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State of the Industry Address (or a discussion on clowning)

Discussion in 'The Clown Café' started by V, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Curiosity of the larger performing world in 2018.

    This forum has obviously seen a significant decline in active membership, or at least activity and with the demise of Ringling,the 'Killer Clowns' of the past few years and such, I'm just curious as to the state of clowning in the modern era.

    I know of a few party clowns in my area but have never really connected with them and besides, I'd like a census that reaches beyond my regional market. I guess my inquiry is to how clowns are doing? Most everyone I know as a Magician, Balloon Artist, Variety entertainer still gets work within a margin of error that doesn't suggest a decline, but I remember the fervor over the 'It' remake that suggested clowning was being negatively impacted (which I still don't believe are related. The film was disappointing however much I was anticipating it being decent).

    A few direct questions for discussion..

    Clowns - are you still going out in greasepaint, or are you marketing as a balloon artist, children's entertainer, magician, etc and going out sans makeup?

    If you do both - what are your %'s of in makeup bookings versus plain clothes?

    If you abandoned makeup, why?


    ---

    I'm in the camp that abandoned greasepaint and over-sized shoes. No real heat from the scary clown stuff, but to be honest, I stopped wearing the outfit well before that started. I simply didn't see what role I was filling in that costume that I wasn't capable of doing in a suit (for more formal affairs) or a t-shirt and khaki shorts for more casual events.

    I think that by going that route as an entertainer, I came around to (at least what I perceive to be) the general public's view on your standard clown in that they're generally unappealing to down right horrifying (and I mean a significant portion of working clowns, not horror genre clowns). I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw a clown give a quality performance (or perform at all as many party or festival clowns simply go about their business while happening to be wearing a silly costume).

    My thoughts on this are that proper clown education takes a large part of the blame. First, the format of education is that it seems to be perpetually aimed at the novice clown and because of this there is rarely any genuine educational opportunities that challenge more seasoned performers or encourage growth. All of the major camps and conventions offer largely the same things by the same instructors geared to the same entry level clowns. I'll look at a schedule of classes on occasion and sometimes they're literally disgusting to me and the only reasons I can imagine anyone ever attends them is that a.) they are part of previously mentioned newbie clowns who are hoping to get an idea of where to go (and I feel are lead astray) b.) they're really just looking for a social event where other clowns are and don't mind paying an entry fee to go to such an event (perhaps they don't get an opportunity to socially perform any other time of the year) or c.) which is really just basically point a.) with a more nefarious twist, is that would be clowns are bamboozled into registering by more seasoned performers for one reason or another (not to be inflammatory, but I'd always heard so-and-so was a great clown instructor or whatnot and actually almost went to one of these damn things before coming to my senses!).

    Second, at it's closely related to my first point, is that up-and-coming clowns don't take the opportunity to become educated. Part of this is because a large portion of clowns are essentially retired persons looking to make a quick and easy buck and figure party clowning is an easy method of accomplishing this, but there are plenty of people out there in the industry who have never bothered with stage or theater experiences, or public speaking classes, etc. I've seen an infinite amount of socially awkward clowns who frankly, have no business billing themselves as entertainers. I've also seen a stead supply who are clumsy and have no talent for stage presence or movement or most especially in relation to the clown; comedy. So many of them seem to be part of the "how hard can this be?" crowd and just blindly jump into the industry. I imagine most of them fold eventually, but they still have a legitimate negative impact on the entertainment industry - much moreso than any horror clown could ever hope to achieve. I think part of this is because the professional clown community offers no encouragement to become educated because of their weak convention and camp scheduling, but just as much, individual laziness is likely to blame.

    Anyway... This is getting long, so I'll pause for responses (if they come - lack of activity and all) - just rambling..
     
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I never put together a clown birthday party package. Magic, puppets, and games weren't my thing. I switched to balloons and face painting at parties. For the most part, the only clown events I do are parades and charity events. From time to time, someone will ask me to do balloons as a clown, but that isn't the same as doing a real clown party. With a Mohawk and blue, green, purple, or whichever color hair I have any given day, my unclown self is fairly unconventional.

    Based on what I see on Facebook, there are still some clown who are very active and do a wide variety of events. Others seem to do almost nothing. I really do think it is an issue where you have to see a clown perform to want to hire a clown. So, the places with a few active clowns are good markets for it to continue. The rest of the country, it would be harder to build up a clown party business. You would need to do a lot of free events to show people that clowns can still be fun.
     
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  3. sillydaddyatl

    sillydaddyatl Member

    When I go out clowning, I am in full costume and makeup. Personally, I find it fun to do, it helps me get into character, and the responses I get when people see me are wonderful and very encouraging. If that were not the case, I'm not sure I would do it as I don't believe clowning is tied to one sort of appearance. It's just a tool, and it has been working for me.

    As far as the "decline" of this forum, I think most people have moved over to Facebook.
     
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  4. The NORMAL One

    The NORMAL One Active Member

    To me clowning started out as a hobby and now I believe it has turn into a vocation. I do not clown for money ( if they want to buy me a meal or give me a tip that ok ) but I do it for my enjoyment and my audience enjoyment. Laughs and smiles is where is at. I do only parades ,a few festivals and charity events. I have more gigs than I ever thoughts that would have. It totally amazing the people I have met and how many lives I had touch, and I do not do balloons or magic.
    I would have to say that in our area (Central Illinois ) the number of clowns has drop a lot . I only have been clowning 8 years. When I started there was 4 alleys and maybe 100 to 125 clowns in a 60 miles radius from where I live. Sad to say now there is no active Alleys and maybe 20 's clowns.
    What happen, old age for some, no younger ones coming up they probably think it dead because it not hook to a computer or a cell phone, money went to other forms of entertainment, number of places that you can learn about clowning, there are all kinds of reasons. I would say do for the fun and joy of it and do it the best you can and the rewards will come to you in many blessing.
    Laughs and Smiles
     
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  5. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    I find that "clowning" goes in cycles. Living in Chicago, there's always interest from a sort of theatrical standpoint. But, that rises and falls a bit based upon who the popular teachers or performers are, and what sort of workshops or performance stages are offered, at any given time. Contemporary expressions of puppetry seems, to me, to be a bit more of the hip thing, at the moment.

    As for entertainment as a clown character, it's a good market here if you speak Spanish and can entertain a Mexican audience, especially, which is still into Payaso.

    Personally, I like to use at least red nose and lite makeup for gigs, if for no other reason than it breaks the ice in allowing people to perceive something fun while inviting them to play. Usually, clients find that acceptable. As long as I'm entertaining an audience effectively, that's all which matters. But I can just as well perform at a party in a colorful coat and hat. Strolling is a little more challenging, as I'm usually doing some basic interactive juggling, and sans clown people instinctively have more significant technical expectations of a "juggler" than what I'm attempting to accomplish.

    My full, classic clown presentation with full auguste face and big shoes is generally reserved for a specialized sort of client who is really into that image (and willing to pay a bit extra for the time and effort.) I'll also put it on for an occasional classic circus oriented event, where I know it will be appreciated and present effectively.

    Typically, though, I do ok with the general client and audience expection as "clown", considering how I present and entertain. While the modern reservations may concern some, and I'm able to accommodate if it isn't a desired offering, I've always thought that what a client wants is "you." So, that's what I try to sell, and find that most people are happy with what I believe that I can best offer.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018 at 7:56 AM
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  6. Grandpa Weatherbie

    Grandpa Weatherbie Well-Known Member

    "Stand up Comics" The Atlantic Weekly
     

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