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Madonna clowns around during intimate Melbourne, Australia concert

The iconic singer took a break from being a material girl and turned up as a girl with a red nose on a tiny bicycle.
/ Source: TODAY

Over the years we've seen Madonna don just about every kind of outfit possible, from conical bras by Jean Paul Gaultier to a red kimono during the 1999 Grammys. But until Thursday night, we're pretty sure we never saw her dressed up like an actual clown.

Taking a small detour from her ongoing Rebel Heart tour, Madonna rolled out onto Melbourne, Australia's Forum stage done up with an askew top hat, pink wig, striped stockings and pedaling a girl's bicycle several sizes too small for her. The music playing in the background? Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns."

"Everyone was like, 'Oh, s---, that's Madonna doing laps on the stage on a tricycle," music critic Lachlan Kanoniuk told the Guardian.

The performance, a special show for a group of 1,500 contest winners, was Madonna's first show in Australia in 23 years (the official stop in Melbourne is on Sunday night). While the show was scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m., it was closer to 1 a.m. by the time Madonna appeared on stage, at which time she apologized if anything seemed rough, Kanonick said.

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During the two-hour performance, the pop legend told stories, including one about visiting her mother's grave, and played "Mer Girl," a song she wrote inspired by that visit. She also shed tears while discussing losing custody of her 15-year-old son Rocco to ex-husband Guy Ritchie, then played "Intervention."

When she talked about visiting then-husband Sean Penn in jail and mentioned that his fellow prisoners at the time included a serial killer, she kept things off-kilter. "It was quite a serious story, but punctuated by these sound bites of goofy cartoon noises," said Kanoniuk.

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The rest of the show was a combination of dirty jokes, puns and vaudeville. She even cracked jokes about the titles of her songs: "I don't have bipolar disorder but I am a little borderline," she reportedly said before launching into "Borderline."

So is this a preview for a potential run on the Vegas strip? Don't count on it: Madonna said she would "rather die than work in Vegas."

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We'll see if that sticks. After all, Madonna tends to do whatever she wants — including putting on a red clown nose.

Follow Randee Dawn on Twitter.