Recently I finished directing, costuming, and being a chorus member in my local community theater’s production of Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Ahh…ya gotta love a small town! Our motto has always been: if you show up for auditions you are in the show, if you don’t you might get the lead!
Every year we scratch and scrape together to put on a show that will get us through the winter doldrums. Many a time, during the process I ask myself “What the heck am I doing?” I have so many other things I should be doing with my business, home, family, etc.
Yet, it never fails that I find a certain truth in these shows that speak louder than words. It’s not about the show; it’s about the people. You never know who is watching that might need a smile. You never know what dreams you may inspire.
As clowns, we need to focus on that idea every time we put on our red nose, silly clothes, and floppy shoes. Of course it’s about the audience as a whole, but it is more about the individual connections you make with the clowns we perform with as well as the kid in the front row jumping up and down, or the one in the back hiding behind his mom.
For the people we perform with, it is about the time we spend together creating and learning from each other, laughing with and supporting one another. It is about what we shared during the time we carved out of our busy lives, and the quality of our joy on stage. It is more about the smiles and surprised looks on the faces of the audience than numbers at the end of the day. I know, I know, tell that to the bank!
Yet my life in theater and as a circus clown came about because my parents performed in a community theater production over 45 years ago. Seeing my parents perform on a simple cement stage changed my life. It ignited a passion for theater, a burning desire to make people laugh, and more. It set in motion a need to be a part of a group of people coming together to do a show.
I never got over it. I’m sure my folks never knew what dreams they inspired with their small town show.
After I left the circus I had a short career as a solo clown. I was miserable.
It wasn’t until the resurrection of the Maple Lake Community Theater that I found my joy in performing again.
It wasn’t until Mooseburger Camp and the bringing together 100 clowns every summer and putting on a show in one week that I was able to recognize it was about the people in the show as much as the show itself.
And this month it will be about dancing down the street with a wet or frozen mop as an Irish Washer Women with my best friends in my home town St. Patrick’s Day parade that will make my heart soar!
I encourage you to bring your joy of clowning into everything you do, whether you have your nose on or not. Find ways to support your community with the lessons you have learned walking in those silly shoes. As clowns we have so much more to offer than what popular culture deems funny and current!
You Never Know…
I will tell you a personal story:
A man’s adult son committed suicide after a long struggle with alcohol. The father was retired. He went into his house, shut the curtains, and didn’t have any reason to come out.
One night he heard a terrible racket outside on his street. He peaked through the curtains to see a group of the town’s finest upstanding citizens practicing their silly kazoo band instruments for the up-coming centennial parade, with yours truly leading the charge.
He laughed for the first time in months.
We never know who we inspire when we perform.
You won’t realize whose life you’ve changed, what it really means to those folks in the seats, or how you’ve enriched the people we perform with.
It’s enough to know we do. I know what it has done for me, and I thank all of you for giving me a reason to keep at it.
In Love & Laughter,
Be inspired! Read these other blog posts to help boost your confidence and get you thinking:
- How to cope with grief and keep clowning
- A widow regains her passion for clowning
- When “funny” isn’t enough – Dealing with depression and suicide
- How to say “no” when you are overwhelmed
- Dealing with transitions in your life
- How should clowns react when tragedy strikes?
- Here are the steps you should take during an on-site accident
- “Don’t Over-Think It” How to create a clown character without too much stress.
- “You Are A Gift” Feeling down? Remember, each time you put on that red nose, you’re going to make someone’s day!
- “Clown Goals” We need to set goals in order to grow. How do we do that?
- “National Clown Shortage” Where have all the clowns gone?
- “Clown: Plain Clothes Division” What do you do when your client asks for no clown makeup?
- “Are You Funny Enough?” Sometimes it’s not about the costume or the props.