Folks love to talk about being spontaneous. As a performer what does that mean? When you take an improv class they call it “saying yes” to your partner. It’s about the attitude you bring to the performance. Accept everything that is being sent your way. Never shut down the flow of ideas. Be willing to go where the creativity takes you.
But on a more practical level what does it really mean for the everyday clown on the street?
What could possibly happen?
The weather, for one thing!
Rain at a parade is a common occurrence. Being spontaneous means having a funny umbrella handy to walk folks to dry shelter! It may not be what you planned, but your audience will find it clever and thoughtful.
So there is a sudden heat wave? Get yourself a cute colorful fan, either the flat plastic kind you wave or a battery-operated hand-held version. You can use that umbrella again to shade yourself from the sun.
Be ready with a low-tech standby
Being spontaneous is having a collection of clown jokes or a quick one-person skit on hand ready to pass out to your fellow performers. You never know when you may be needed to fill time during a show. Computers fail, internet is unreliable, music downloads disappear, there’s no electricity, microphones break or produce feedback. Sometimes a clown is the perfect distraction to fill in while the technical difficulties are being dealt with (or when there is an accident or emergency).
Don’t be afraid to bring something new along with you
Did the airline lose your suitcase of props? Work with what you’ve got or grab something at the local dollar store! Tell the kids it is new and you are very excited, but you are not sure how it works. Do your best, ask their advice. Kids love to help you. Asking for help opens the door for them to be kind. We all can use a little more kindness.
The important thing: Don’t lose your cool!
We do take our clowning seriously and want to do our absolute best. However we do need to realize we are clowns! Our audience expects things to go wrong and may not even know it when it does happen. Being spontaneous in performance can open the door to delightful opportunities. But we need the proper mindset.
Before you go out to your event: take a deep breath, quiet your mind. Ask for the grace to bring joy and laughter to your audience AND see all the possibilities before you. Tell yourself: “I can do this! No routine is routine! Let me see the fun in everyone!” Enjoy the moment; be in the moment.
Not feeling funny?
What if you feel burnt out, or just have no ideas? Clowns who have been clowning a long time sometimes fall into this rut. They don’t seem interested in learning anything new. They have a closet full of magic, props, and balloons, but they haven’t challenged themselves with them in years. It’s not just the seasoned clowns. New clowns often tell me, “I love the kids, but I am just not funny.”
Find Your Tribe
You know what makes you feel funny? Being with other clowns and working together on new ideas. When you collaborate with others it is a great opportunity to be flexible and spontaneous. Every clown club should have a skit rehearsal day outside of their monthly or regular meeting. It builds teamwork. It fosters new ideas. (Be sure to have snacks!)
Let folks try a routine they have never done before. Resist the urge to have the same clowns always perform the same routines. Very few routines are originals. Most are classics that were written long ago and shared. It is natural for clowns to have ownership in a routine they do well. But the only way your club is going to grow and stay fresh is to get everyone involved and be willing to change things up.
What if you don’t belong to a clown club?
Okay, so there’s no alley in your area? This can be a bit harder to get those creative juices going. But it is still doable. First try and get some local folks to play along. Think outside the box: contact your community theater, high school drama coach, 4H club, etc. Make it easy for them to participate. Have a spare costume, do their make-up, get them in a parade or easy walk around.
But be careful when you engage in these online groups. Sometimes discussions can go off the rails and get hurtful. Avoid these threads. No good comes from it. Walk away. Don’t feed the trolls.
Real human connection is key
I am a firm believer in live and in-person contact for the best motivation! Nothing sparks creativity like a brain storming session where you can see and hear all the people around the table getting silly. This is why I believe conventions, workshops, and camps work well for all kinds of clowns. While I am not a big fan of competitions myself, some people keep energized by creating new material to compete with.
The real benefit of any of these things is being around other clowns. It is just that simple. When we are together we laugh more, create more, and become the best clowns we want to be.
That is why I am encouraging you to consider doing something totally spontaneous. It is not too late to come to Mooseburger Clown Camp. We do have a few spots left. I promise you a wonderful fun-filled and encouraging time! Call 320-963-6277 today to talk to me about your performance goals and if Mooseburger Camp is a good fit for you!