Grimaldi’s innovative ideas may seem familiar to us today, but at the time they were unique.
Taking a cartload of fruit, vegetables and everyday objects , Grimaldi, would deftly arrange them into comic sculptures of upper class figures. He was known to manipulate a coal scuttle, a muff and a coat to become recognisable as the Prince Regent. The late actor Ken Campbell did the same thing in his stage shows, creating a statue of the scientist, Stephen Hawking.
Grimaldi involved the audience in his shenanigans. One of his most well-loved songs was Hot Codlins:
"A little old woman, her living she got by selling hot codlins, hot, hot, hot. / And this little old woman, who codlins sold, tho' her codlins were hot,she felt herself cold. / So to keep herself warm she thought it no sin to fetch for herself a quartern of .......".
As Grimaldi paused the audience would gleefully yell, “Gin!”.
Grimaldi would look at them with mock disgust and cry, “Oh! For shame!”.
Grimaldi would bring tears to his audience’s eyes by telling the tale of a man who went to see his doctor because he was feeling so sad. The doctor said, “You should go to see a performance by the great clown, Grimaldi. That will cheer you up”, to which the response was, “But doctor, I am Grimaldi”.
Grimaldi understood tragedy. His first wife died after only eighteen months of marriage. His son from his second marriage was an alcoholic and died at an early age.