Clown Ministry by Floyd Shaffer & Sewall Penne – a how-to manual and dozens of skits for service and worship
From the “father” of modern clown ministry (and one of his students) comes this book dealing with the how & why of clown ministry. Although I don’t agree with everything here (for example, the book promotes silent clowning exclusively), it’s a very good insight into the heart of clown ministry & how it works. It starts with the underlying theory of clown ministry, and proceeds to the design and application of the four major styles of clown make up. It includes an outline for a seminar on clown ministry as well as 30 different skits.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Genesis of Clown Ministry
- A very good introductory chapter. It talks about what ministry is (in a general sense, not limited to clowning), and expands to cover the concept of the vulnerable lover, and giving yourself away. It talks about some of the major concepts of clown ministry. Mr. Shaffer expands on these wonderfully in his book If I Were A Clown.
Chapter 2: Exploring the World of the Clown
- Various exercises, for relaxation, for working with other members of a clown troupe, for becoming childlike, for communicating non-verbally (almost mime techniques)
Chapter 3: Creating Your Clown
- This chapter deals with introducing the four basic clown types (whiteface, auguste, tramp and character), as seen by the authors in clown ministry — for instance, they deal with the Whiteface as the Joy Bringer. The chapter goes on and covers the basics of designing your clown face, and applying makeup (although some additional photographs would have been nice here).
Chapter 4: A Clown is Born
- A short chapter dealing with “taking the plunge” and actually engaging in clown ministry. It contains a discussion of different venues and opportunities for clown ministry.
Chapter 5: Bits and Skits
A discussion of clown skits, starting with a list of ‘bits’, short ideas that can be used either as the starting point for a skit or as part of a larger skit. In addition, it lists the following 30 skits:
- The Great Bull Fight, a skit for 2 clowns – dealing with humility
- The Dive of Your Life, a skit for 2 clowns – “pride goes before destruction” – dealing with the ‘sensational’ dive of one clown into a cup of water (this always makes me think of Yosemite Sam & Bugs Bunny’s cartoon about the vaudeville high diver, Fearless Freep)
- The Fishing Expedition, 2 or more clowns, “fishers of men”
- The Bread of Life, 2 or 3 clowns, used in conjunction with a communion service
- A Salty Tang, 3 or more clowns, — using a cooking theme to talk about being “you are the salt of the world”
- The Carpenters, 2 clowns dressed as carpenters, using the skit to discuss the cross, as the clowns bumblingly attempt to build a cross.
- We’re All In This Together, multiple clowns, illustrating “the body has many members”
- The Good Picnician – multiple clowns, displaying a variation on the Good Samaritan parable
- Clean Heart Cleaners, multiple clowns – “though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” – a skit set in a cleaners, dealing with washing away sins (with Pray & Wash!)
- No Longer Two, But One – 1 clown – an excellent skit for a wedding celebration
- The Balloon Man – 1 clown – an excellent pantomime skit just for fun
- The Dark Spots – 2 or more clowns – a skit demonstrating the weight of sin, and forgiveness
- Feed the Hungry – 3 or more clowns – a nice skit, demonstrating Jesus’ commandment to feed the hungry – for a church setting, with audience participation at the end
- The Cross At My Fingertips – 1 or more clowns – audience participation to form a living cross
- All By Myself – 2 clowns – an excellent silent skit, very powerful, illustrating that “it is not good for him to be alone.”
- Using Your Talents – multiple clowns – re-enacting of the parable of the talents
- I’ll Give Him My Heart – 1 clown – good for Christmas, or stewardship – giving your heart (literally) to Jesus
- A Confessional – multiple clowns – demonstrating how God works through our problems to give us new possibilities
- The Home Builder – multiple clowns – a skit demonstrating how the family can become fractured, and how the Carpenter can put it back together. Good for a family night.
- The Wall – 2 or more clowns – an excellent skit, in which two (or more) clowns take turn building a wall between them, with the ‘bricks’ being boxes labelled hate, greed, etc. — with there being a ‘break through’ at the end
- Noah’s Ark – 1 clown – an excellent re-enactment of the story of Noah’s Ark, with much audience participation, using audience member as the building materials for the ark, as well as for the animals inside
- The Lost Piece – multiple clowns – an excellent skit, where different large ‘puzzle pieces’ (labelled after the different ministries at the local church) are brought out and held by various clowns — but there’s a missing piece? Can Sherlock Clown find it?
- The Happiness Skit – multiple clowns – “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” – an excellent skit for illustrating that happiness isn’t from possessions
- Actually, 7 skits – The 7 Myths of Hunger