Discussion in 'Hospital Clowning' started by V, Aug 21, 2012.
Hospital clowning in the news...
Baskets - FX clown comedy by Louis C.k. & Zack Galifianakis. I'm sure it's not going to do the general clown community any favors but it's probably going to be a funny show. I'm a fan of both of them and will be watching.
CNN Op-Ed - about clowns being seen as scary. Obviously an opinion piece but it's out there and simply because it's reaching a wider audience that your average clown, it's worth considering.
CNN on Clown Shortage - discussed here in another thread recently.
I just watched a segment on CNN similar to the oped above. Basically a creepy clown spot for Halloween that repeated a lot of the article above with some video from various horror clown flicks and footage from recent clown scare pranks. It also had a psychotherapist discussing the phobia. I couldn't find an online link to the segment but it will likely repeat at some point today on CNN.
This week, Randy Christiansen published an apologetic on his blog in which he contrasted real clowns who sincerely entertain audiences with the sort of fakery intended to shock and scare, associated with Halloween.
While, I appreciate his effort at bringing a bit more clarity and thoughtfulness to things for a general audience, I do think it falls short in one critical area: education.
It isn't enough to simply assert that someone is a legitimate clown because they engage in a certain type of preferred entertainment and someone else isn't because they offer another image which, unfortunately, clouds the sort of family friendly impression which others are attempting to make (and do business at.)
It would be much more helpful to discuss some history of clown and its relation to contemporary interpretations.
Until circuses enlarged to three or more rings and clowns were not as in ready relation to the audience, they often were baudy characters using satirical and off color humor. The entire image of clown being some sort of saccharine children's friend is entirely a creation of advertising artists and marketing campaigns. The birthday party entertainer clown, a creation of mid twentieth century family affluence.
Is the theatrical clown who seeks to lead his audience on an emotional journey illegitimate? What about a bouffon, who keeps you on you toes and even enables a bit of fear? And, then, there are characters of Commedia, which has an awful lot in relation to and influence upon the art of clown. Shakespearean jesters, anyone? Real court jesters? Native American personalities which served this purpose, along with similar likes from other ancient cultures?
Until the public (and, first and foremost, the average performing clown) develops an honest understanding of what clowning REALLY is, it will not be genuinely possible to try to root out what clowning is not.
I'm one of the few that think clowns have no place in a birthday party setting. Honestly, most party clowns creep me out. I'll actually take that one step further in that most modern clowns creep me out. There's just something bothersome to me when a clown tries to adopt a childlike voice and such.
I also think the concept of 'child like innocence' has become bastardized in modern clowns to equate acting and being as a child rather than a broader naive character. Personally, I'm not a fan of 'kid clowns' but equally have been audience to brilliant performers who play a naive soul in a modern world - mostly on stage; never in someone's living room.
That leads me personally to the conclusion that I don't ever envision seeing myself enjoying a clown that isn't on a stage (I've seen some great shows) or on a sidewalk (I've also seen some clever activist clowns and street performers). The moral of the story goes back to Tim's post in that virtually every clown that I've ever seen that doesn't irk me, has been geared towards and older audience. Even Bob Bell's Bozo to a degree. While that was certainly a kid's show - it's one that adults could watch and be just as entertained because Bob didn't dumb his act down to what we almost universally see today.
I don my grease paint clown in two arenas - festival and sidewalk, and both performances are similar in that I'm essentially doing my busking act at festivals more than going around and making balloons or magic for kids.
I actually refuse to clown for private parties. If I get a call looking for balloons, face painting, and clowning I explain that I can offer the first 2 along with a comedy act but not in costume. My tramp is geared towards much older audiences when I'm doing anything other than standing around in costume. I will flake out and dress like a clown for Halloween if I'm doing a bulk balloon event, but haven't done that in a few years. I'll occasionally take my clown to a casino costume party where he feels more at home with the 21+ crowd.
As an agent I never book clowns for private parties and honestly deal with very few clowns. Part of that is prejudice I guess, but equally (or more) is that it's extremely difficult to find clown talent that I'm willing to put my name on as an agent.
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