You’re not a real clown! or are you?
A recent posting in the Forums triggered a thought, which resulted in this article – what do you do when some darling child says, “You’re not a real clown!” I recently had this happen when my alter ego, Raynbow D. Clown, was entertaining children at a wedding reception. At the very beginning, a child yelled out, “You’re not a real clown, ‘cuz I can see your skin!” I had made a mistake applying my makeup, and had left a large patch of skin visible on my neck — what to do now? I smiled at the youngster, made a childish face and said, “Oh yeah? Well, you’re not a real kid! (pause for audience reaction) I bet you’re a midget in a kid suit!”
After about 10 minutes of clowning around, I asked the youngster if I was a real clown — “Oh, yes!” he said, and the other kids agreed, which made me feel much better :o) Part of the reason that things went so well was that I’ve had several years of clowning experience under my belt, and was secure in my own skin — in short, I knew that I was a clown and that knowledge gets transferred to my audience. But how do you get that security?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is time. Most clowns who have been clowning for any number of years can tell you stories of when they knew they were a clown, or at least were well on their way to that point. In my case, several years ago, I stopped in a grocery store in a town far away from my home, where I had never performed. As I’m walking down the aisles, a little boy in his momma’s shopping cart kept pointing to me and saying, “Clown! Clown! Momma, there’s a clown!” After passing by me several times as we were both doing our shopping, the mom felt uncomfortable enough that she felt she had to apologize for her child calling me a clown (I wasn’t in makeup — in fact, I was wearing a suit and tie). I smiled and explained that no apology was necessary – as I pulled a balloon out of my pocket, inflated it and twisted it into a dog, handed it off to the child and left the mother with her jaw hanging wide open.
How did that young child recognize me as a clown? I don’t know, but it’s happened since then as well; it must be clown magic.