I’m not really sure why I decided to attend Caring Clown College. Of course, I thought it would be a fun, summertime activity. As a bonus, my friend, Joye — a clown herself, was doing the training. And anything unusual generally attracts my attention. But I had no real expectations coming into this.
Having lived for years with a companion parrot, a Blue and Gold Macaw named Gabby, I decided to fashion my clown after her. Macaws are natural clowns. They always appear to be grinning and love doing silly tricks in order to make you smile and laugh, just like a great clown!
My character seemed to evolve over time. I think “Ladybird” grew out of different things we learned over time, things I tried that didn’t feel comfortable or right. And the makeup, costume and props have to compliment the personality of the clown, so they evolved as well. Much of your own personality comes through in your clown character, but I think it’s the part that you don’t always show. It’s the playful, childish, “who cares if I make a fool of myself” part. And that is so freeing!
Before this class, I thought clowns did what they did because they like to be “ON” and they like being the center of attention and like getting the laughs. But what I learned is that clowns, at least the ones I know, do what they do because there is no better feeling than seeing someone who is hurting smile because you brought them joy.
Truthfully, I was somewhat doubtful that people in pain in a hospital would want a clown to visit them. Boy was I wrong. Patients welcomed us in groups and played right along with our skits and gags! I don’t know who enjoyed it more, them or us? And I love the variety and spontaneity of clowning. You, as the clown, don’t even know what gag or prop or skit you are going to do until you’re doing it! You do the one that seems to fit the situation at that time.
I had heard of humor therapy, but didn’t fully comprehend what it meant until our last class. After a particularly rough day, I arrived feeling stressed and anxious. This night, in particular, had such wonderful, positive energy, and I was surrounded by joy and laughter. This was humor therapy at work, and I was the patient!
I didn’t know anyone in the class except Joye when we began, but I feel that after a short 8 weeks, I have a new group of friends. Friends who share the same, warped sense of humor I have. . .friends who I really want to spend time with!