Shakes the Clown is a dark comedy that follows a bumbling, alcoholic clown as he tries to get his life out of a rut. Shakes the Clown (Bob Goldthwait) lives in Palukaville, a town full of clowns and mimes. He's barely making a living entertaining children at birthday parties but dreams of one day hosting his own television show. In spite of his ambitions and a loving girlfriend, Judy (Julie Brown), he spends most of his free time drinking at the Twisted Balloon, a ramshackle tavern where the local clowns hang out and make fun of mimes.
When his rival, Binky the Clown (Tom Kenny), gets a coveted TV hosting job, Shakes becomes even more bitter. To make matters worse, he gets fired by his agency for repeatedly showing up to work late and with a hangover. Shakes handles this piece of bad news with an epic drinking binge. When he finally wakes up, he discovers he is the primary suspect in the beating of his former boss, who was attacked with a clown's juggling pin. Shakes starts to sober up and goes undercover as a mime. He takes a mime class from Marty Fromage (Robin Williams) to help him maintain his cover.
He soon realizes that it was Binky that framed him for assault and who has also kidnapped one of his friends. As Shakes pursues his nemesis, he realizes he is an alcoholic and must change his life completely. The film includes many future stars in the Palukaville population, such as Adam Sandler as a fellow clown and stand-up comedienne Kathy Griffin as a local named Lucy. Florence Henderson appears as one of Shakes' one-night stands. This 1992 comedy has developed a cult following for its crude humor and black-hearted clowns.