Clown Tutorial – Choosing a clown name
“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act II Scene ii
“A rose by any other name
Would still give ya hay fever.”
How do you choose a name for your clown? Is it important? Should you worry about it?
Yes and no. It is important, but it’s not the most important thing in the world. For many clowns, choosing a name comes naturally from the character they want to portray (Hobo Jim, Weary Willie, the little Tramp, Yankee Dan Rice, or Will Rejoice & B. Glad, for clown ministers, for example). For others, it comes from a nickname (like Frosty Little, or of course Groucho, Chico and Harpo), or their birth name (like Kenny Ahern). Others choose their name from seemingly happenstance things. For instance, Floyd Shaffer chose his clown name, Soccataco, from watching a TV show with the catchphrase “Sock it to me!” combined with a box of tacos on his table. One of his students, Wobniar, took the word Rainbow & spelled it backwards.
Common names for some clown ministers have Biblical roots. Dooley (or Douley) is a common name, coming from the Greek word Doulos, for the worker who does the lowliest, most degrading work without recognition.
Regardless, find a name that fits your character, and that you are comfortable with; as with your makeup and costume, you may fine-tune it or change it over time, as you become more familiar with your character.
One rule that is ironclad, however, is to make sure that you are not using the same name as some other established clown in your area. It will lead to confusion, and possibly hard feelings between yourself and that other clown. Don’t do it. If you have an established clown name and move to an area that has a clown with that name, give serious thought to changing it; at a minimum, contact the other clown, and try to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Above all, don’t get stressed out over choosing your clown name – remember, clowning is supposed to be fun; so let’s enjoy it :o)
Next time, we’ll talk about whether your clown should be silent — or at least start that way. See you there!