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Help with family

Discussion in 'Newbies to clowning' started by Hindssm, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. Hindssm

    Hindssm New Member

    I am new to the possibility of clowning and I am meeting opposition with my wife who finds clowns "weird" and is not overly fond of the idea of me doing any sort of clowning.

    I have a stage theatre history and have been in musicals, straight plays, street performance and children's shows. I feel like I have what it takes to be a clown but I hate thinking my wife would find a new passion of mine as off-putting and strange. How might I approach this subject sensitively and have any of you dealt with similar things?
  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    People won't always understand some things until you are successful and making money. Being a clown isn't always easy and some will say that movies like "It" hurt more at a time when there are fewer clowns performing at events. In some ways, now is a great time for those motivated to build their business because there are fewer clown and entertainers available. Many have shifted to doing balloons or face painting which seems to be very popular at events. Although a clown can entertain a crowd of people with a 30 minute show while a face painter is busy painting 10-15 kids in an hour.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  3. Hindssm

    Hindssm New Member

    Thanks Dukes! It might take some time before I am fully "in the biz" but thanks for advice! I'm trying to get better at my physical humor and making a look for myself for now.
  4. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Clowning, circa 2017, is off-putting and strange...

    I would recommend developing a comedy act. If you want elements of clown or physical comedy then absolutely add them to your act, but the traditional clown is on its way out... There is a nearly endless list of grease paint free performers who capture every bit the element of clown without the strange factor of donning a red nose. The clown is migrating to the horror show or the haunted house and away from birthday parties and festivals. Please note that I'm not suggesting that any of the modern horror clowns have caused this. I firmly believe that Clowns of America International, World Clown Association, etc have done more damage to clowning than any fictional monster clown could ever accomplish. I'm simply suggesting that the natural oddity of the clown seems to be moving in a darker direction than he has historically performed in...

    I would look at the Mac Kings or Bill Irwins (or more regional - Hilby the German Juggler Boy, Christopher T Magician, etc) for inspiration. All of them, in my opinion, fill the niche of clown (and then some) while avoiding the clown stigma. Most of them have even developed costume choices that aren't too far removed from that of a clown, while being far enough away as to not be recognized as such. I've stated for a very long time now, that when acting as a booking agent, I have not (and can not imagine doing so) booked a clown as a clown for any event - private or public. Other variety entertainers easily fill the role while basically avoiding all of the negatives of having a clown on site. I personally only know 1 person who still works as an actual clown - their act has been terrible for a very long time btw - and all she basically does is facepaint or do balloons while wearing a clown costume (so really, she isn't a clown at all.... Irony), and I only run into her at one event that she has done for years. As soon as the person on the booking committee that she is friends with dies or retires (small town festival - she performs off-peak monday-thurs of an 8 day event, for peasant's wages) then I'll probably never see her again..
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I agree with half of what V says. You can be successful creating a comedy act that uses the elements of clowning without the clown makeup.

    Yes, clowning is on a major decline. I see hope in the fact that there are still a few vibrant clown alleys who do multiple clown events every year, from parades, nursing homes, and other special events. I just don't know how to tap into their success to spread it to other groups. For several years, many have said that the average age of hometown clowns is in the 60s and getting older each year. I know many who have retired or cut back most events. I think it is a myth that children (and adults) are afraid of clowns. There are a few people with a real fear, and some kids who are just weary of strangers, which might include Santa, the Easter Bunny, and store mascots. Teens and adults think it is fun to be afraid, but they do know the difference between a horror movie clown and a real entertainer. They wouldn't have a problem going to the circus or watching an entertaining clown performing on a street corner, festival, or their living room.
  6. Hindssm

    Hindssm New Member

    Thanks for the advice and info fellas! For the time being I am unsure what route I want to go with my clowning and how much of a "job" I want it to be. I am working on coming up with comedy acts and getting back into shape for physical comedy (something I have sorely neglected in the past few years). I live in a very rural southern town, so finding a venue for clowning of any kind seems to be a difficult one.
  7. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    To be more specific and accurate, certain types and expressions of clowning are experiencing decline. But, overall, clowning is experiencing a revival of interest and expansion of understanding.

    No less than John Towsen, who literally wrote the book on clown, has said that clowning in on the curve up. But, of course, climbing up is a more serious challenge than riding a high or gaining off of what has been built up as things slide thrillingly downhill.

    If you have a background in theater, then that is how I would approach things with your wife. There's a great history of clown characters from Shakespeare to Commedia Dell'Arte to Silent Film to tv sitcoms, to now. Much of what is happening in contemporary clown is coming from theater. Explore it!

    Now, if what you really want to try is variety arts and kids/family entertainment, that's fine, too. There are a good number of pros out there who are worth watching and learning from. Some, I'd even call clowns since they use classic clowning concepts effectively (often sans the trappings of traditional costume and makeup.) And there can be decent money in it, also, if you know what you're doing and excel at business to develop a market.

    Now, if you still have a passion to express some sort of classic clown character, just do it well and be different and unique. In such cases, one has to truly attract an audience in order to be effective. And that requires an audience to want not so much "a clown" as YOU!

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