After graduating from West Georgia in 1987, Jay Stewart pursued his Master’s degree in Theatre and Communication at Wake Forest University. While doing research for his Thesis project, Jay came across several references to The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College. Professors and directors had always commented that Jay “fell down well”, so he took a chance and was happy to be accepted to the Clown College Class of 1989. This led to a two year stint as a Clown on The Greatest Show on Earth, touring the nation and performing for massive audiences beneath the Big Top. Following his dreams to Las Vegas, Nevada, Jay performed for two years in “The Three Stooges, Live!”, as Moe, Larry, and with the help of a fat suit, even Curly! Jay was also lucky enough to be asked to teach at the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus Clown College for its last five years of operation–slapstick technique, classic gags and character development. What an honor!
Along the way, Jay met and fell in love with a funny, beautiful Clown, Kristin, and they got married, with lots of Clowns and Stooges in attendance. Life on the road beckoned, and the couple ended up in Tokyo, Japan, performing for the Kinoshita Circus, with their 8 month old daughter, Karen, along for the ride! She was a real trooper! The Ringling Bros. called again, and this time, Jay, Kristin and Karen went out on the road as a family, with Jay taking the position of “Boss Clown” for the Clown Alley. About a year went by, and Nicholas, their son, was born, as they say, with “sawdust in his veins.” Being raised in Clown Alley, amid 18 wacky funsters had a huge impact on the kids–one that may not be fully realized until they are older, and throwing pies for themselves!
As the kids grew, Jay and Kristin opted to give them a “normal” life, and left the road, relocating to Myrtle Beach, SC, where they started their own Clown troupe, “The Seaside Clowns”, performing daily, up and down the Grand Strand, most notably at the historic Myrtle Beach Pavilion, a 60 year old beach-front amusement park.
Jay is also a proud member of the NY Goofs Ultimate Clown School, and has had occasion to perform with The Goofs in New York and other locations, as well as performing in Liu Zhou, Shanghai, Hang Zhou and Bengbu, China, with the AEMI International Clown Festivals. And, having relocated again–this time, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts–Jay is thrilled to have been the Clown Coach for Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s International Award Winning Youth Circus, which tours New England all summer. And, Jay can be found at Fenway Park, performing for lots of Boston Red Sox home games, as a 9 foot, stilted Red Sox player–any position on the field, except Short Stop!
Jay is currently the Supervisor for the Laughter League at Boston Children’s Hospital, providing room to room visitation and humor therapy, and proving that “laughter really is the best medicine” for the patients, their families and the hospital staff. Bringing the Clown into the hospital setting, and using his “bag of tricks” to help people through some very difficult times, is a challenge and a joy.
For over 25 years, Jay has been very happy to make his living playing the fool.
Hospital & Caring Clowning MAIN COURSE (Jay Stewart)
Clowns can bring joy and laughter where it is needed most when they step through the doors of a hospital or nursing home. You will find this work challenging but hugely rewarding. Learn how to create material and work with a partner; explore music and skills that entertain, distract and redirect; discover how to “read the room” and make the right choices; and, above all, experience the joy of connecting with an open heart. Jay brings experience performing in playrooms and patient rooms, making the rounds in hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers, working solo and with a partner. This course includes a visit with residents in a local care facility, with Jay supervising visits. It creates the perfect safe and supportive environment to reach out as a Caring Clown.
NOTE: It is recommended that you have the basics of clown make-up and character in place before launching into this specialized field. Please bring any skills you want to share: musical instruments, puppets, juggling, magic tricks, poems, songs and jokes.
The Best Cheap Bits! (Jay Stewart) Thurs. 1:45
A wise clown often said “A cheap bit, well done…is a well done cheap bit!”
(Steve Smith, former Dean, The Ringling Bros. Clown College, all around good egg!) A cheap bit is a beautiful thing, a glory to behold, as it usually sneaks up on the audience and before they know it–POW! They have been hit with that cheap bit right on the funny bone! Cheap bits stand alone, or become essential parts of bigger gags, and sometimes become signature bits that individual Clowns are known for. This workshop will explore the sublime world of the noble cheap bit, learning a few classics as inspiration for creating your own. (Bring writing material for notes, as well as props or costume pieces you may want to work with, such as hats or noses.)
Gag Writing & Material Development (Jay Stewart) Thurs. 3:00
A solid, dependable, funny Clown Gag is like a sack of gold! There are a million “classic” Clown Gags out there, but how do you put together one of your own? This is the million dollar question that clowns have asked for as long as there have been clowns. This workshop will explore writing for the individual, seeking material crafted for you and your clown character–stressing why it is important that YOU are the one performing it, and not a generic gag that anyone can do. What do you bring to the gag that no one else can? What makes the gag yours? Stress will be on both solo routines and partnering. (Bring writing material for notes)
Surviving Physical Comedy (Jay Stewart) Wed. 4:00 Clowns present a promise to anyone who sees them — a promise of fun, excitement, a sense of wonder, and a chance for them to enter the “Clown World”, where anything can happen! Exaggerated, animated movement is one aspect of the clowns’ bag of tricks that helps create the magic of the clown. Terms like “Slapstick” and “Physical Comedy” are sometimes intimidating to performers, especially those who have passed their 20’s, who wants to get slapped, kicked or knocked down. This workshop will explore techniques and approaches to the physical side of clowning that will help you create the atmosphere we all want to inhabit as clowns, bringing the humor without the bruises! Stress will be on teamwork and partnering. (Bring writing materials for notes