Recently I found myself in the position of needing a new clown character. Now it will be my third. I am NOT one of those folks who loves changing different types of characters constantly. I was happy with my whiteface clown “Pricilla Mooseburger” for 33 years! It was bad eyesight and age that pushed me into creating my Auguste character “Miss Moose”.
When the big push for Lite Auguste came along I can admit it now: I was not a fan. I actually teach a class called “Lite Auguste not Lazy Auguste”. My reason was I was sick of folks dabbing on little bits of make-up because they didn’t want to do the work of developing a decent character face, and calling it good enough.
(Hold on, there are lots of great lite Auguste faces and folks performing with minimal make-up, that is not what I am talking about. Please read on.)
With the creation of the Red Nose Reader* program I needed a face I could put in in minutes — like FIVE or less! It had to be done without a table, with a mirror in one hand and make-up in the other.
Red Nose Readers is our new program to teach kids (and their teachers) that clowns are fun and not scary. The idea is simple: go to a classroom in fun clothes but not a clown costume. You know, dressed like a real person. We talk to the kids about real clowns: who we are and what we do. Once you get them engaged and talking about clowns, it’s easy. They want to see you get dressed, put on make-up and have some fun! They can’t wait for more. It was easy to keep their attention as I read a book. My favorite is a series called The Clown Arounds by Joanna Cole. I love this book series so much I suggested we name our clown club after it! The goal of the program is to give children a fun positive clown experience. No scary clowns allowed!
But there was no way I could put on my Miss Moose costume and make-up in the time allowed. What to do? Here are some ideas if you feel the need for a new character.
First let’s talk about why:
- Location – Some places like hospitals are more interested in a “funny character” than a full blown clown. It is not always the case. Both full face clowns and lite clowns perform in this country. Jay Stewart performs in Boston as a wacky doctor character going room to room. Brian Fason has a fabulous hospital Bingo program in Alabama in full clown face and traditional costume. He is a huge hit. Both teach at Mooseburger Camp. You need to know your location and what your public and audience want.
- Circumstances – As we age the heat is a bigger factor than most of us would like to admit. I had to do less with my whiteface in outdoor events due to multiple episodes of heat stroke. I am happy to have lighter looks at my disposal. You don’t always have to ditch your whole wig and costume. But sometimes you may need to adjust.
- Time – You may not have the time to put on a full face. It all depends on your lifestyle and performance venues. Our Red Nose Readers may be doing multiple shows in one day. We need faces that we can wipe off with a wet wipe in a jiffy so we can do another classroom. Having on a full face with foundation (flesh tone) or a whiteface would be hard on the skin to take off and far too time-consuming.
- Creativity – Maybe you just need a change? I was told to just wear glasses with my whiteface when contacts stopped working. Pricilla with glasses? Nope, not happening. I developed that whiteface and perfected it in my 30’s. But I needed to create a new character to fit my personality at age 57. Now I was ready for something new.
Was I nervous?
Oh boy! There was a worry that I wouldn’t feel like a clown in a lighter make-up. But I will tell you. It’s all about the nose. It doesn’t really matter how much make-up I have on. Once I put that red nose on I feel like a clown.
Case in point: I was in an airport coming home from the WCA convention in Albuquerque. I had my ACME Eccentric round red clown nose on a string around my neck like a necklace. A 3 year old was having a major meltdown behind me while we waited to board. First I showed her a video on my phone of a bunny eating a slice of watermelon. Hilarious! That got her attention. Soon my clown nose slipped on and we had some fun! No make-up necessary. Sure I love my make-up, but this case was a toddler emergency!
For the Red Nose Reader program I first put my costume on. Having a funny red hat that covers my boring human hair helps a lot. But I am not a clown yet. I am just somebody in some fun clothes. Then I pull out a small make-up kit. The kids get a big kick out of watching me put on the red mouth, white on my eyelids, and some blue eyebrows and lashes.
But they cannot wait for me to put on that round red nose on a string. It’s magic. When I am all together I feel like a clown and am ready to perform.
How do you feel?
That really is the key isn’t it? Does your make-up and costume make you feel funny? Is it too hot? Does it wear you down? Have you grown out of that character? Or did your community get bit by the scary clown bug and you are not as welcome as you used to be? This reason breaks my heart.
I love a beautiful whiteface with all the spangles and trimmings! My heart leaps for a circus style Auguste character ready to take a pratfall or pie in the face. But we need to assess our situations and create accordingly. Clowning is a creative art form. You might be surprised where it takes you!
* Red Nose Readers is a non-profit organization working to promote literacy, kindness, and joy through the art of clowning. Our secondary secret mission is to make clowns welcome in the community again and banish the image of scary clowns forever! Learn more at www.rednosereader.org
Read more about developing a clown character or new look:
- Don’t Over-think it
- Naming your clown character
- Ways to perform at Halloween without being your clown
- Setting and reaching goals with your clown character
- Working with what you have and making the most of it
- Are you brave enough to make a change?
- 4 Reasons NOT to wear your regular clown costume
- Don’t water down your clown!
- Have you thought about themed party characters?
- Clown costume needs VS wants
- Face your fear and try something new
Would you like to be a clown?
Mooseburger Clown Arts Education has been running one of the world’s most well-rounded clown schools since 1996. Performers from all over the globe travel to Minnesota each summer for a fun and intensive clown training program. Each aspect of our clown camp is designed to meet your needs and boost your confidence as an entertainer.
Whether you want to join the circus, visit nursing homes, run your own birthday party business, paint faces, or twist balloons, there is something just for you at Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION! Or call me toll-free to discuss your education and see if Mooseburger is the right fit for you: 800-973-6277