This past week it became known that this great country could very well be suffering a clown shortage. Yep, a clown shortage. Although the evidence is just based primarily on dwindling membership to the trade’s national organization, the Clowns of America International, it didn’t stop people from having a little fun with it over the last several days. Social media users posted the news on the Facebook walls of friends who claim to be petrified of clowns (still a mystery to me on how people are afraid of clowns) and comedians and columnists had their own hay days. Okay, fair enough.
I guess I am a little indifferent to clowns. By no means am I afraid of them. I would never chastise, mock, or embarrass one. Likewise I don’t have a passion for “clowning” as the industry calls it. I have never aspired to dress up in makeup, don a rainbow colored wig, put on a big red nose, and waltz around public places. But to each their own. In my opinion I think clowns serve a legitimate purpose. Just because I don’t get overly excited about them doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize the joyful impact they have on others…I have seen it countless times.
Just because I could live with them or without them doesn’t mean I don’t have a few clowns who have stood out over the years. In fact when I heard about the possible clown shortage I immediately thought about a few of these crazy jokesters who stick out in my mind whenever I hear the word BOZO. So for today’s blog post I would like to recognize my top five favorite clowns starting with my fifth best and working down to my all-time favorite.
5. Doink the Clown – As hesitant as I am to admit it, as a kid I was a huge WWE fan. Starting from probably the age of seven and lasting through about sixth grade I watched the weekly programs, collected the action figures, and even attended a couple live events when the organization invaded Spokane. For many years the WWE featured a wrestler named Doink the Clown. He filled the demented clown profile with wild green hair and messy face paint. He usually got dominated in the ring and was a running joke within the WWE.
4. Buttons – As a kid on special occasions my family would go out to a restaurant called Swackhammer’s in north Spokane. Think of this place as an earlier version of Applebees. On certain nights the restaurant would have Buttons the Clown go table to table making balloon animals. Of course this trumped the tasty food, the company we usually had, and the cool toy trains that ran on tracks throughout the restaurant. An older heavier-set clown with suspenders and a top hat my first question whenever my parents said we were going to Swackhammer’s was “Is Buttons going to be there?”
3. Scary Clown from Halloween 2011 – I don’t have too much to say about this clown that I met during Halloween 2011 other than it makes my favorites list solely because he didn’t kill me.
2. The Clowns of Mystère – To this day the best Cirque du Soleil show I have ever seen was Mystère at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. Everything about that show is amazing, starting with pre-entrance entertainment. As my family waited to enter the theater some 15 years ago one of the clown performers poked through the door and came out in the lobby area to have some fun. Playing an awkward, goofy angle the clown would come right up to us, look us in the eye, and make a noise while doing other shenanigans. Dressed in a suit that probably cost thousands of dollars and covered in top grade makeup, this was by no means your stereotypical clown. My family laughed hysterically as this Cirque cast member performed for us. As you could imagine, the gift shop didn’t have to twist our arms to shell out the money for the prints that the photographer took of the clown interacting with us.
1. Uncle Curly the Clown – Back when I did all the marketing and gameday entertainment for the Griz soccer team I tried to think up something original that would go over well for the Kids Day game I was planning. After coming up with the idea during my daily workout I decided that I was going to hire a clown to work the stands during that particular game. After putting in my research I settled on doing business with “Uncle Curly the Clown” from Montana Clown Work. Played by Thomas Plovanic I traveled to his home and met with him about the gig. We discussed expectations and rates and had a good conversation. At his home I talked to him in his street clothes but when I met him on game day at the soccer stadium he was in his clown outfit but to my surprise there wasn’t a major transformation. He wore a modest suit, a couple dabs of face paint, and a yellow hat. He still looked very much like the guy I talked to in that living room. But what really changed was his personality! His already outgoing and goofy persona that became known to me at his place had been amped up about ten different levels.
He delighted the crowd, interacted with Monte brilliantly, and kept a great balance between having the attention focused on him and the action on the field. About a week after the game I got a very nice thank you note from Uncle Curly thanking us for having him at the game. To beat out a Las Vegas performer in the best suit money can buy for the number one spot on my clown list is quite the honor!
Although I think this “clown shortage” is a little exaggerated I hope the industry doesn’t go the way of the dinosaurs. Do you have any favorite clowns or, better yet, pictures of you with clowns?! I think I might have to do something special for you if you can provide me with a decent clown picture. Have a great weekend everyone. Don’t Blink.