Are clowns fading away?
We have to take a stand on not watering down the clown.
I’m not saying we need to cling to old make-up styles and traditions. But we need to be ready to push back at a misinformed public when it comes to our identity as clown performers.
“Clowns scare kids; can you come without your make-up?”
How would you answer that question?
First, agree with the statement:
“Yes, some children can be a bit hesitant at first, but I have great success with my kid-friendly look and approach. The children love my fun colorful look and everyone will have a great time.”
Second, send them pictures of you entertaining children. Be sure to have a collection of laughing happy kids, not just posed shots of your face painting. You can also follow it up with testimonials and quotes from satisfied customers. This would be a great idea for your website, then all you would have to do is send them the link.
Enlighten; Don’t Bludgeon
We as performers need to be ready to defend our art form without coming off as defensive.
You have to know your market as well. Some parts of the country are more clown-phobic than others.
Sure, there is real coulrophobia. But 90% of the time it’s a child’s normal fear of strangers, or — worst yet — older kids acting as if they are scared. You can tell the difference between the truly fearful and those who are simply seeking attention.
You know what? Quite often it is well-meaning parents worried about their kid’s reaction to something new. Mommy asks her 4-year old “Are you okay? Are you scared of the clown?” Of course the child is going to think “Should I be afraid of the clown?” and then react with fright.
You can educate them without badgering them or being confrontational. Be prepared, just like a politician with the party line: “We’re not scary; we’re fun! You’ll see!” And then be sure to give them your best!
Be careful of giving in to these silly fears
Sometimes clowns are so eager to please that our first response is to submit to the pressure.
First we take off our wigs, then our noses. Next we fade out our make-up, and down play our costumes.
Before you know it, the clown has disappeared from the landscape of performance art. The only thing that is left in the public’s memories are the scary clown images in horror movies.
…that’s great, just great.
So what can we do?
When creating a kid-friendly clown in the phobic world it is a matter of measure.
- If you take off your wig, then be sure to do something funny with your real hair.
- If you wear less make-up, then wear a nice-sized red nose.
- If you don’t wear the big shoes, then be sure get a pair of colorful sneakers.
Colorful costuming does NOT scare children. They love it.
Need a few tips on how to alter your look without giving up the clown? Read this article about “plain clothes” clowning!
Clowning is not a dying art, but the image of what a clown is supposed to look like is in danger of dying out.
Of course, I’ve heard the argument that you can look to Lucille Ball or Harpo Marx or Charlie Chaplin, and call them “clowns” without them ever slapping on the greasepaint. That’s true. But you can’t argue with the unmistakable difference between the traditional American clown image and those masterful comedic actors who have embraced the spirit of clowning.
…However, that’s not what this article is about. I’m here to warn clowns about what they should prepare for in the future. Are clowns fading away? Not if I have anything to say about it!!
So don’t water down your clown! Soften it a bit if you have to, but don’t dilute it.
Resist the urge to give in to the pressure. Stay true to your character. Don’t fade away.
Read more articles about coulrophobia and defending clowns:
- Stopping Scary Clowns – Part 1
- Stopping Scary Clowns – Part 2
- It is Coulrophobia? Or is it bullying?
- Responding to “You might scare kids”
- Clowns are gifts, not creeps
- She faced her fear of clowns!
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