Category Archives: Communities
groups in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater or elsewhere
I got a call from Drew Perine asking if I’d like to be part of his photo-essay on Work Clothes for the Tacoma News-Tribune. It would also appear in the Olympian. Both are McClatchy papers. Well, duh. The Trib has a 78K+ circulation and the Daily O has 33K+ circulation! What did he want? Well, to interview me as I got into character and see me in action.
I conscripted a few confederates and arranged to deliver pies to their willing faces at the Tacoma Museum of Glass on Tuesday the 5th of August. [Thanks to the speedy opportunism of Hillary Ryan, the head of their PR dept, seeing my Facebook post.]
Hillary and her two children were among the five confederates to accept pies in honor of National Clown Week. I also brought artist Bil Fleming and patron of the arts, Erin Oly, with me from Olympia. Erin had supported my Quest for the 100th pie in the face and wore her limited edition hand screened commemorative T-shirt for the occasion. She was honored to be the 1101st pied face on that day.
I chose to do the pie-ings on the Chihuly bridge of glass outside the museum to allow for public interactivity and appreciation. Sure enough, as we were basically blocking traffic, I was able to convince a random traveler to accept a pie. Breezy was a good sport. When offered a complimentary pie-in-the-face her two companions declined, but she said, “Sure.”
I returned to Unity of Centralia today to deliver a message about Laughter Yoga and the Sacred Fool. It was full of hysterical stories of historical and prehistorical clown pie rituals. I also quoted liberally from Monica Drake‘s essay “The Clown Continuum” in which she describes getting pied.
I got 8 more willing faces to accept the sacramental pie including one woman whose birthday just so happened to be today.
“Bapak Utan” sang “Ol’ King Kong” by Sandman the Rappin’ Cowboy.
I read “A Birthday Clown for Archer” by Kathy Mashburn about a boy who convinces his coulrophobic mother to hire a clown for his birthday. After all, it’s HIS BIRTHDAY!
PLEASE MOM PLEASE MOM PLEASE MOM j/k. He’s a nice kid that Archer. Not like some people’s kids. This lady here has a kid. The middle kid. I worked with him. I have lots of notes. A real sweet heart and funny guy but he could turn on you, start throwing crayons faster than you can say Jack Asperger’s.
In March, I came out to Elliot’s 7th birthday to pie his parents. He wasn’t interested in a pie for himself, but his friends lined up.
For his 7th birthday, I pied 7 faces, I hit the 777th mark and passed it, reaching 782.
One of the guests was a boy named Malakie who was VERY into getting pied,
So.. his mother asked me to show up for HIS 7th birthday.
We did 9 willing faces, most of them LARGE pies, including his mom. Current total is ~873, almost a hundred more in less than two months!
Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of… afternoon… will stay this clown from the sloppy delivery of his appointed pies!
First of May Intern, “Spontgomery” debuted today for a 3 hour party in rain and hail. He translated, juggled, and documented these 8 faces getting pied.
New Total ~792 Willingly Pied Faces
We arrived on schedule and were told to wait a bit longer, which is hard when you’re in clown and people can see you and want to begin interacting with you, so we unloaded as slowly as we could and began to set up the comprehensive equipment.
We were expected to entertain for a THREE HOUR PARTY, so it included:
- Enjoying a meal
- A trunk full of pre-made balloons courtesy of Ken Trombley of Chehalis
- Mardi Gras bead dogs
- The soundtracks of Cars & Cars 2 playing through my kindle & audio reinforcement system
- Dancing in the rain, lip-synching & playing air guitar to “Hotel California” (their jukebox)
- no faces were painted due to inclement weather, but I was prepared to do characters from Cars (cheats were loaded on the kindle)
- Playing in and under the parachute in the hail
- a short demonstration of magic scarves & juggling
- working pinata safety
- distributing goody bags
- cutting (sloppily) and serving cake to ~50 guests [I could bring my own candles (they forgot to get some), knife, & serving utensil]
- delivering Mexican flag toothpicks to cakes & hamburgers
- and although I had almost THREE PAGES of sign-ups, only 8 faces were actually willing
It was a good day to be a clown.
As the 6th month approached I realized that I had some hot gigs on the burner, so I put off my recap until after the April Fool’s service. Then I waited until I had something to report about the Spring Break Clown Camp… Pretty soon it was Summer Clown Camp, and then it was National Clown Week. That’s when I found out that all of her sites had been hacked and she was not able to do the follow-up article after all.
Now it’s been 14 months since the first article. Here are the updates I was going to share with Becky Cortino.
In “Launch”, Michael Stelzner emphasized the power and necessity of collaboration, and his examples and suggestions helped me focus on a better collaboration strategy. Per the suggestions in “Launch”, I have continued to seek out and involve Other Great People and “exchanging offerings” with them. Notably, I actively recruited successful peers and industry experts to visit the local clown alley, the Red Nose Brigade. I convinced Guinness World Record Winner, Alex “the Zaniac” Zerbe, to give a skill share workshop. He later called me needing a pie-in-the-face consultation for a regional library promo video he was shooting.
Each year around Halloween I spend time working with the scary clown stereotype instead of against it. I did three consecutive years at the Tumwater Halloween House. On the third year the owner also accepted a pie-in-the-face, and I inaugurated a scarier look complete with prosthetic teeth.
In 2011, I negotiated with several non-profits for an 11 night run as a scary clown in a Haunted Firehouse. In addition to cash and logo placement on the flier, one perk was a pair of season tickets to a local theater.
I sponsored a successful 10 week “First of May” internship with an Evergreen State College student, who studied clowning through a Marxist feminist lens. This gave me a chance to reflect on suitable reading and viewing lists. Books included: “Pie any means necessary” (the Biotic Baking Brigade), “Clown Girl” (Drake), and “the Death of Ben Linder” (Kruckewitt). I shared videos ranging from Danny Kaye in “The Court Jester” to Chaplin’s “the Circus” to the inner city Krumpin’ Clowns of “Rize” and the spacey clowns of Cirque du Soleil. She accompanied me on a variety of gigs: a parade, a birthday, a drive-by pieing, several workshops and spring break clown camp. I introduced her to a half-dozen members of the local clown community, and she interviewed them for a wider perspective on the craft.
My Laughter Yoga practice has also grown beyond the free weekly club meeting at the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation (OUUC). A PE teacher from Elma hired me to give a lecture-demo for her school’s staff meeting, and the Olympia Occupy Solidarity Social Forum invited me to give two workshops.
Since April Fool’s fell on a Sunday this year, I coordinated with the minister, worship arts committee, and eight clown confederates on a church service around the theme of “How Humor Serves the Soul”. I led a Laughter Greeting & Laughter Meditation portion.
Several Sundays later I led a church service at the OUUC on the topic of “Laughter: opens minds, fills hearts, and transforms lives” partnered with another Certified Laughter Yoga Leader. We made the connection between the church’s mission statement and the use of laughter as a tool to achieve those goals. After the service I was approached by a man from a smaller church to the south. They don’t currently have a minister and they share the responsibility for a weekly message. His official title may be President of the Board, but he was actually also a talent scout. He offered to hire me to do a service for them.
I was the “2011 Best of Olympia” Staff Pick in Tacoma’s Weekly Volcano for “Best Pie (in the face)”.
I also got good publicity by offering a free class in “Esoteric Red Nose Clowning” at Waves, a local dance studio, as part of their Community Event Nights. A reporter from Olympia Power & Light attended, and his article made the front page.
I hosted a spring and a summer Clown Camp. I taught a total of eleven students, and I was able to bring in five additional part-time counselors. The larger success, however, wasn’t the number of students who actually enrolled, but the scope of the advertising I was able to achieve by partnering with the Parks & Recreation department. They published several photos with the camp description in their catalog that went to thousands and thousands of locations. The school districts allowed me to send fliers home to students because the parks department is a non-profit organization. After the spring camp I decided to upgrade my flier and made a deal with local illustrator, Chelsea Baker. She stays busy drawing a 4 panel comic every day. It was the best advertising investment I’ve ever made.
It was my 3rd year pieing at Festival of Purim and 2nd with a large entourage of clowns. The rabbi was on sabbatical, but I’ve already pied him twice. This year I stayed for the whole megillah.
It’s come down to a “Go Big or Go Home” mentality. Technically, it’s a “Go Big and THEN Go Home” thing. If other clowns sometimes offer a 2nd clown, I like to offer half a dozen. I like to arrange a multi-clown team to accommodate the balloons, Laughter Yoga, singing, dancing, and piñata bashing. Clown OVERKILL is really my favorite thing. It’s especially efficient when we’re doing one-on-one activities like face painting and balloon twisting.
Some clowns work in pairs. I like to roll about 5 deep whenever possible. I keep a clown in every corner and one in center stage. Guess who gets center stage.
These are INSIDE JOKES for Chivers and Chivettes. Visit http://thechive.com to get clues what they mean.
10. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Bo. Bo Who? Bo Red At Work!
9. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Bernie. Bernie Who? Bernie Bra Day!
8. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Emma. Emma Who? Ehrmagehrd! Kunerk kunerk jokes!
7. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Effell. Effell Who? FLBP!
6. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Ida. Ida Who? Ida What I Want!
5. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Kasey. Kasey Who? KCCO!
4. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Keith. Keith Who? Keith Calm and Chive On!
3. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Moe. Moe Who? Motivational Monday!
2. Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Merri. Merri Who? ‘Merica!
1.Knock-Knock. Who’s There? Sawyer. Sawyer Who? Sawyer Got Wasted!
Plz tag me on facebook if you took a pic at the Meet Up.
Allow me to expand on the details about this event, which goes a bit contrary to typical clown parties *ahem*. However, my philosophy about clowning has always emphasized absurd rituals of taboo violation, and that includes taboos within the mainstream clown community.
My pal, Steve Eggleston, has now written THREE on-line pieces interviewing me AND wrote a character into his latest book based on me!
His first piece was in 2009> https://jusbytheclown.com/2009/05/23/folkshine-at-blue-heron-bakery-pie/
His second piece was in 2011> https://jusbytheclown.com/2011/02/19/folkshine-2/
He used his new iphone and went even more multi-media.
His book “Pilots” is available on Lulu > http://www.lulu.com/shop/steve-eggleston/pilots/paperback/product-20191459.html
The character Jefferson Spee appears in the short story “Alpha” (p172), and has a dozen characteristics based on true facets of my story. In a dozen other ways Steve made the character his own and created believable and more literary tangents for the narrative.
Jefferson’s clown character was known to show up at parades and local festivities and people in Olympia were familiar with the clown that juggled on stilts though the streets and gave out balloons to kids. Of all the facts that every Olympian knows, that the artesian well is cursed, that Kurt Cobain wrote most of his famous songs in Olympia, that basically the entire cast of the Simpsons is based on people who lived in Olympia, most people don’t know that the straight-up pastry guy is also the parade-clown-juggling-on-stilts guy.
“Yep. I am him. But we’re at odds sometimes. He wants to just go laugh all the time and turn everything into a joke, but someone has to pay the bills. Somebody has to actually get some real work done.
“I do parties, all kinds of parties. I’ll cater to my audience. People think they don’t like clowns, and that’s when I really enjoy clowning. I love the reluctant laugher. I love the guy who’s like, “I’ not going to laugh, there’s no way I’m going to laugh. Those are the easiest ones. Ducks on a pond. I also do a camp for kids. I’m not talking about people who want to grow up and actually be clowns, and book gigs, but kids who just want to experience what it is like to be a clown, to be allowed to be a clown, even encouraged to. Kids want to be outrageous. If they don’t, that worries me.”
Most recently, Steve did another interview with me… over Facebook Instant Messaging.
It was published on-line at http://www.ladybottleblues.com and looks something like this slideshow.
1st client to have repeat business the same calendar year! Daughter’s party in March, Mom’s in November!!
I debuted the mini flaming pie with 151 at this gig. Still a few kinks to work out.