Book review of Be a Clown!, by Mark Stolzenberg (2002)
(Editorâs note: this book should not be confused with Turk Pipkinâs Be A Clown (complete with nose) nor the childrenâs book Be A Clown, and has no relation to Cole Porterâs classic song “Be A Clown”)
Another good introduction to clowning, by a well-rounded professional clown. What makes this book stand apart from the crowd? In a nutshell, two things: character development and photographs.
This book focuses intently on character development, and does it quite wellâbetter than any other book that I can think of off the top of my head. How does your clown think? Why does he think that way? What exercises can you do to stretch your “clown muscles”? How does your clownâs hat (attire, really) pertain to his character? How is that communicated to the audience? All these questions, and many, many more are answered here.
One other area where this book shines is in the sheer number of photographs. It contains several skits, and does an excellent job at visually presenting them via the crisp black & white photographs. For example, the wire walker skit has 18 photographs in 7 pages, showing step-by-step the mechanics of the routine.
A few things of note about the author: first, Mark Stolzenberg is a professional clown, and his love of his craft shows clearly throughout the book. Secondly, as should be clear from the cover illustration, Mark believes in the minimalist style of clown make up. He focuses much more on the character and actions of the clown, which I wholeheartedly agree with. I simply donât want anyone who uses a more traditional make up style to be “turned off” by this; Mark understands clowning, and teaches it quite well. As someone once said, “Clothes may make the man, but make up does not make the clown.”
In summary, this is an excellent book that neophyte, beginner, and “first of may” clowns will benefit from. Published in May 2002, itâs 160 pages, available in either hardcover or paperback.