Often when one decides to become a clown the first things that they think about are:
1. Clown Name
2. Clown makeup
3. Clown Costume
As important as these are they are not the most important. - And often what we neglect to consider is our “Clown Character!” The development of our Clown Character is the MOST IMPORTANT!!!
How does your Clown Name reflect your Clown Character?
How does your Costume reflect your Clown Character?
Will your Clown Character be Silly, Boisterous, or Quiet & Soft Demeanor?
Ask yourself, “How will I be Funny???”
What comedians would you like to emulate? (For me I was raised on the Three Stooges, so Slapstick Comedy has become a part of my Clown Character! Also I love the old Abbott & Costello movies and they have been incorporated into my Clown Character.)
I also watched other performers at Library Reading Clubs. Later I often worked with these same performers and I learned by watching them. I also went to a David Ginn seminar that was most helpful! “Pack Small-Play Big” “Abracadabra” to “Have-a-Banana” and much more. You can learn by joining a local clown alley, or a juggling club. With every performance you learn more. What worked? What did NOT work? What was Funny? What was not funny? Often your audience will throw out a good line. Remember it and use it!
Your "Patter" is your connection to your audience. You are building TRUST and building a relationship with your audience. Whenever Boocoos first comes out to an audience or birthday party, Boocoos comes out very softly and timidly. You don't want to scare any little people. Boocoos does a balloon popping trick to gain the children's trust. I ask a volunteer to help me stretch a balloon. They hold their end, Boocoos pulls the balloon (the kids always let go!) and the balloon snaps back. Ooouch! The kids ALWAYS LAUGH at this very simple gag. But when they see that the clown doesn't get mad and that its OK to laugh, the children are put at ease, you are gaining their Trust!
Always be aware that there are often some children (and even adults that are scared of clowns (they're also scared of Santa Claus so don't worry!) I tell the children that I saw a clown just "Today, and it scared me!" And then I ask, "Do you know where I saw him?" ... IN THE MIRROR!!!" It takes a few seconds and then a kids says, "THAT WAS YOU!" I exclaim, "That was YOU in my mirror!" Now we have a bunch of kids replying, "That was YOU!" I argue with them, that they were in the mirror. This is simple-stupid but it crosses a threshold of building a relationship with the kids putting them at ease and letting them participate and enjoy the show!
I heavily rely on my patter, but sometimes the music is soooooo loud that you can't hear; so I rely on a pantomime with physical hands, arms, legs, etc. to get my point across. Avner the Eccentric does a complete act with a Kazoo as his only voice! Yes, sometimes obstacles like too loud music can be a learning opportunity!
One thing that I am proud of as Boocoos is that Boocoos uses many, many volunteers of different ages. Boocoos has tricks for a toddler and tricks for older kids, and even humor that the adults will enjoy.
When you ask for volunteers MOST of the kids will raise their hands; that doesn't mean that they are brave enough and willing to come up to the front to volunteer and to help the clown! One time I called for a volunteer and a little girl was timid to come up to the front. She had an older sister, so I asked, “Would you like big sister to come up with you?” And she consented and said YES! Now if I realized that the two sisters had a brother with them; well you can’t leave him out. So I ended up with 3 volunteers instead of one! Improvise! Incorporate all three kids into the act. YOU never want a kid to feel like they were turned down and rejected. The parents will love that you selected their little timid-a-bit child!
· Day 1 Boocoos did a “Where do clowns come from?” where I put my makeup on right in front of the audience. We also had Andy from Kudos ‘Clown & Magic’ did a Christian oriented show for the kids and Logan Daffron the Juggler did a show and workshop on juggling. All were a great success!
· On the 2nd day the kids were told to bring a funny hat and costume. They were not to buy costumes from the store. They had to use their imagination. And the kids really did use their imagination; they wore old big clothes from their parents and they all looked great!
This day they put on their own makeup. Main rule: NO Greaseballs!
Too MUCH Grease Paint will NEVER stay on...
But will ALWAYS smear off!
The kids looked absolutely darling in their clown faces. With their clown faces on they were given a challenge: Think of skits that you can perform for the residents of the nursing homes. Again they used their imagination and came up with good skits.
***There was only skit that I had to omit; they wanted to do a skit where a clown would get doused with water. I decided against this skit because of safety concern. Wet floors at a nursing home seemed like a bad idea.
· On the third day the kids put on their makeup and costumes and out we went. At the nursing home the kids were nervous at first. The residents were truly over joyed to see the children and they laughed at the kids clown skits. My only rule with the skits were ‘No dead/down time’ the show must go pop-pop-pop!
As we were navigated to other parts of the nursing home, the kids started to sing as they were walking down the halls. They used their minds and their imagination and far exceeded my expectations. Their singing was a big hit! The kids also really connected with the residents. Many liked to hold their little hands. This could bring tears to your eyes.
Later we went into an elevator to go to another floor. There was a sign that stated, “Password is XYZ.” The kids couldn’t understand why the password was in the elevator. We were going to a Alzheimer’s unit. We explain that these residents had memory loss. Despite the residents disabilities they loved the skits and the singing of the children.
***Later when we returned back to the church, I asked them, “Do you see why we didn’t do a water skit?” The kids with a sigh of relief were grateful that they didn’t have a water skit. They understood the risk at a nursing home.
We also visited a Retirement center and a Head Start. The kids did a fantastic job of entertain the kids. Later on our way back to the church the kids kept singing in the van.
The kids learned about clowns but more importantly they learned about volunteering to help senior citizens and helping disadvantaged children! This was truly a Blessed Day.
The littler (littler-not a real word.) and smaller the volunteer the better you will look! I believe that the kids are the Star of the Show; NOT Boocoos!
If a little 2 or 3 year old steps up in the middle of your show; USE THEM SOMEHOW! Don’t just return them to your seat! At the same time you MUST maintain Order in your Show. You’re in Charge!
It is always easy to spot the cute, outgoing child in the audience. They just simply standout. These children make very good volunteers and can get your show off to a good start. They raise their hand to volunteer with great enthusiasm; they are truly hard to miss. But throughout the show, I also look for the timid child (afraid of the clown) I try to make eye contact throughout the show. I also look for the kid that no one ever picks to be on their team. A child with physical disabilities or mental disabilities also needs to be incorporated into the show.
Boocoos will always look for minority children to be a part of the show; and they make some of the best volunteers. If I notice Muslims in the audience I will make every effort to include them in a trick that is suitable for their age. Boocoos is “Colorblind!” Minority children will always get special attention.
For Boocoos a great accomplishment is getting that timid child to participate; this is the most rewarding!
At the end of the show Boocoos always sits on his box to ‘Meet & Greet’ with the kids. This is a casual time, but Boocoos is still in character. I believe that the‘Meet & Greet’ is very important. In past years I went to see The Flying Karamazov Brothers; a premiere world-class juggling troupe. At the end of the show they would always come out to visit with the audience. If these world-class performers can do it; You can do it!
Boocoos’ clown character is Boocoos’ main asset! Boocoos’ clown character fully expresses his ‘Love for ALL Children’ and ‘compassion for ALL people, and Patience and Gentleness for ALL!’ My Clown Character is as close as I can get to being “Christ-Like!”
I often speak of Boocoos in the 3rd person because we are truly two different characters. I can never approach the kindness of Boocoos. Boocoos is a better person than I can ever be!
My clown character has been developed through my faith; ‘Love Your Neighbor.” NO exceptions! My Neighbor is anyone that Boocoos may meet. Again NO Exceptions! Race, creed, nationality, gender it doesn’t matter!
I hope this doesn't sound too self righteous or arrogant. I truly speak of this humbly: When I am Boocoos the Clown, I pray to fully be an Expression of God's Love.
The entire law is summed up
in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
If you really keep the royal law
found in Scripture,
“Love your neighbor as yourself,”
you are doing right.
How Important is a Clown?
How important is a clown? Years ago at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church I helped with a field trip. We had a 3-day workshop of turning kids into clowns and visiting nursing homes and retirement centers!
I asked the kids just how important is a clown? The kids kinda shrugged and admitted that a clown wasn’t that important. I told the kids, If you are sick, you call a doctor; not a clown. If your car breaks down, you call a mechanic; not a clown.
But what if you are 5 years old. Your mother has invited their entire kindergarten class to the party and many of their parents would be there also. Relatives and grandparents from out of town will be there too. Neighborhood kids and parent s have also been invited.
The parents want this special occasion to be perfect, fun, a wonderful memory. Now a clown is to perform at the party. The parents made the arrangements almost a month earlier.
Family and friends start to arrive for the party. All of the kids are anxious for the clown to arrive. Oh NO! The clown is late. Worse yet the clown never calls or shows up. The birthday child is disappointed, the parents are mortified, the guest are also disappointed.
Now I ask, “How Important is a Clown?”
A clown not showing up at a birthday party is like Santa Claus not showing up for Christmas morning! Inexcusable!
Look at the Pictures Below!
Look at the Expression on the Children's Faces!
The CHILDREN ARE THE STARS!!!
The MOST IMPORTANT are the Expressions on the children's faces. The JOY comes not from juggling, or tricks, or your costume and makeup; The JOY comes from your Loving Clown Character!