Category Archives: :o)
Jusby the Clown
Once upon a time there was a little blond girl named Sydney. Sydney could be a boy’s name too. It’s also the capital of Australia, but this was a little blond second grade girl named Sydney. One day Sydney said to me, “I have a woos toof. See my toof is wiggawee!”
On this particular day Sydney’s class had PE. P.E. stands for Physical Education. Usually a P makes a Puh sound, but when it’s PH it says Fuh. Physical Education happens in the gym. It’s when they try to teach kids how to use their bodies better. Second graders have lots of energy and can run and jump and throw balls but they don’t always have great coordination and they sometimes run into each other or the walls or they jump on each other’s toes or fingers or they throw the balls into each other’s faces. The gym is a hard place, and the balls are hard and it’s possible to lose a toof when someone runs into you or throws a ball in your face. Even a toof that is not wiggawee.
At the suggestion of the Small Business Development Council, I contacted Inside Lacey magazine to get a plug in for the upcoming Timberland Regional Library Crash Course Clown Camp.
The editor (“Centralized Publication Manager”), Pete Kennedy, replied asking me if I would be interested in an email Q&A, and that I should send 10 High Res pictures. Ah-hem. Yes. Here there are, and what are your questions?
He sent two dozen questions and gave me 48 hours to answer them.
The final piece included answers to 8 of the questions and all 10 pictures.
What I had not realized what that they produce a sister magazine, West Olympia Life. For Inside Lacey, this became a featured article. For West Olympia Life it was the COVER STORY!
One question that didn’t make the cut was this one:
—You also have interns through Evergreen. How many interns have you had through this program, and have any gone on to be professional clowns themselves?
I have worked with emergent clowns as interns and assistants and less-formal collaborations over the past few years because I felt the profession needed more in the way of apprenticeships. When I work with college students I have recommend texts and videos and expect reflective journals in exchange for my evaluation of their work. All my collaborators should expect a fair mix of show and business when we gig. One of my partners, Honey the Clown, now offers pie-in-the-face in New York.
A little video I helped with this week at the request of Alex “the Zaniac” Zerbe.
An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.
Similarly, we clowns have an ancient legend that First Clown will grant a wish to anyone who delivers a thousand pies in the face.
Clowns provide many surprising gifts but none are quite as powerful as a pie in the face when it comes to pleasing First Clown enough for wish granting.
We do not ordinarily count how many balloons we have twisted. I know colleagues who have undoubtedly re-enacted that ritual well over a thousand times. Balloon twisting also goes back to the ancient times. Early clown shaman twisted the intestines of sacrificial animals into the basic dog/ quadruped sculpture. It symbolized a resurrection and primacy of breath as life. The dog/ quadruped was also sacrificed to indicate the inevitable end of human creation.
We do not ordinarily count how many faces we have painted or arms tattooed/ bejeweled. We accept that these are a constant part of the ancient tradition of body decoration/ modification. The clown shaman performed a magical transformation on members of their tribe with pigmentation and design. We call for the characteristics of animal totems or admirable human role models when we assume their faces. We recognize this practice as part of the infinite flowing process of becoming. The face paint washes off and the tattoos/ jewels are only temporarily affixed in place.
A pie delivered to a willing face is a different matter. Although it is also symbolic of things ephemeral, the memory of that sudden moment lasts a great deal longer than most complicated multi-balloon sculptures, full face paintings, or even arm-length henna tattoos. It has to do with the trust generated between the clown, the clowned, and those around. A pie delivered as a spectacle can help those in attendance to face their fear and believe that in spite of it all there is sweetness in life.
While soliciting donations toward the 1000th pie in the face expedition, I was asked whether I had documentation for each of the pied faces I’ve been claiming.
Yes and No.
When I pied the first face on April Fool’s of 2007 I never imagined I would be celebrating the 1000th now.
It took a year for things to get rolling. On April Fool’s of 2008 I set out to see just how many I could do in a day by bartering and bundling with other visits. [It was eight.]
My birthday is also in April, so I made pies available to guests at the party. Eleven more faces.
I brought a pie to a family member’s 60th birthday and thought ahead to bring extra whipped topping. Sure enough, FIVE more people agreed to accept pies.
I (almost) always have people sign a waiver, and I (almost) always take a photo.
Problems with the Waivers
- I haven’t kept all the waivers!
- I don’t usually date the waivers.
- I continue to use waiver sheets when there are blank lines left.
- Sometimes people get in line without signing up.
- Sometimes people sign and never show up for their pie.
- I can’t always read the names because of the GIANT PENCIL and because sometimes the children’s handwriting is illegible anyway.
Problems with the Photos
I have sometimes had technical difficulties with my camera during a pie-ing.
- Sometimes I haven’t brought it.
- Sometimes the batteries run out.
- Sometimes I accidentally leave the SD card in the computer.
- Sometimes the hosts or guests at a party have their own cameras, and I think I don’t need to prove anything. I think I don’t need to spend my time processing & uploading all those before/ during/ and after shots.
- Sometimes I forget to take the picture.
- Sometimes an assistant is taking pictures, and they miss the shot.
It was the Fremont Solstice Parade of 2008 where the count got a little blurry. I estimated that I had done 15 pies in 90 minutes for a new personal best. It brought the total to ABOUT ~45. I estimated based on the number of dirty pie pans and empty canisters of whipped topping I had at the end of the parade route.
Let me tell you what qualifies and what does not qualify as a pied face for this count.
- any sized pie that I personally hand deliver to a face
- any sized pie that I provide to an assistant which is hand delivered to a face (including mine)
- any sized pie that I provide to a willing face, who then hand delivers it to their own face
- each new pie-ing occasion of a face. (i.e. I pied Bill Fleming on different days, each had a separate count)
- any delivery of whipped topping directly to the mouth as long as some spills beyond the lips
- a face that receives whipped topping by accepting or initiating a kiss with a pied face
What Doesn’t Count
- multiple pie-ings of the same face at the same event (i.e. The kid who says ‘Again, again, again!’ is counted only once)
- pie-ing myself once a day just to boost the numbers
- having an assistant pie me on a regular basis to boost the numbers
- pie-ing animals
- pie-ing inanimate faces (statues, paintings, dolls, action figures)
I update the count on Twitter as soon as possible after each delivery. It feeds to Facebook. I then switch the count on Jusbytheclown.com.
Indiegogo Campaign is up and running…
I took the opportunity of my aunt’s wedding to schedule a clown quest with my wife and son to Washington DC from October 2nd- 9th, 2013.
1000th Pie in the face for… Somebody
I deliver pies in the face to willing faces only. As of today I have delivered pies to ~962 willing faces. I believe the pie-in-the-face symbolizes innocence, purity, new beginnings, and the sweetness of life.
A willing face HAD agreed to rendezvous with us on the 8th, so we booked our flights to coordinate with his schedule. However, he abruptly walked away from the project, and our tickets are non-refundable & non-transferable. Typical clown reversal of fortune.
Click on the link or picture above to help crowd-fund this project. Some great perks are offered in exchange for your generosity.
This is a preview of a limited edition, hand silk-screened T-shirt. The first batch is only 20 shirts. 10 Large, 5 XL, & 5 XXLs. And Six of these have been claimed. For a supportive gift of $25 you can have one.
You could also receive: Pie shaped soap, a DIY Pie-in-the-face Kit, a Pie shaped paver stone, the NW guide to clowns, the original Flaming Pies, and much more… including discounted services or a party every year FOR LIFE!
I was a few years ahead of the Drunk Baby Meme when I wrote these.
I was at the birth of our pal Gavin when I started inventing these jokes to distract and amuse his mom. I posted them to an old livejournal account in 2003. Luckily, I kept it archived, so here it is for no reason other than to continue the theme of going in bars (Oly Pub Crawl, Chive Meet-Up, Bloodwrestling at the Urban Onion).
A baby walks into a bar and orders a milk. The bartender says, “I can’t serve you. Don’t you see the sign. It says No Minors!”
The baby says, “I’m not a miner, I’m a baby!”
The bartender says, “Get outta here and go home to your mother”.
Well, if you were in labor you might laugh.
An hour or so later I came up with this one.
Another baby walks into another bar and orders a milk. The bartender asks, “Have you got any ID?” The baby reaches into his diapers and pulls out his sonogram.
The bartender says, “How do I know this is you?”
The baby says, “What do ya mean? That’s my nose, that’s my thumb I’m sucking! See, that’s me!”
After a moment the bartender says, “Hey! You gotta be 21 YEARS old, not 21 WEEKS old! Get outta here!”
A baby walks into a bar and orders a double shot of their best cream with a binky chaser and says to “put it on my tab!”.
The bartender asks, “Who do you think you are!?”
The baby says, “Aw, Daaad, you know me!”
A baby crawls into a bar and pulls himself up onto a stool and says, “A bottle of your house white.” Then he notices the well-endowed barmaid and quickly corrects himself, “On second thought, whatever you have on tap.
and just because I’ll be subbing in Kindergarten next week, another baby meme – Success Kid!
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.
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.
A strange man asked if he could hit me in the face, straight on, with a pie. He said he was a clown, pies were his thing.
“Sure!” I emailed back, complete with the seemingly uncontrollable enthusiasm, perhaps a little forced, implied by an exclamation point.
“You’re a good sport, Monica,” he wrote.
His words unnerved me.
When I tell people about the story, I want to talk about the clown. I want to say that Jusby the Clown has a degree from Evergreen State College. A degree! He’s worked to forge “a bridge between Eastern and Western forms of clowning.” He’s interested in “the special healing role of the clown around the world” and “the organic link between the clown and the shaman.”
I want to build his credibility because that builds mine: I didn’t just meet a strange man in a park to let him smear my mascara in his whip cream in front of children. I opened myself up to a spiritual experience.
Jusby & Juliette partied with Blayke in Rochester last August and returned this year with Sweetpea… and the Photographer was also called Sweet Pea!
We hit the 707th Willingly Pied Face Today!
I was flattered when Ned Hayes asked me to provide some professional face painting to support Kids at Play during Sunday’s Sand in the City. It also provided another opportunity for intern “Crystal” to shine.
In email exchanges before the event, I quickly found out that an emergency comedy consultation was in order. They let me know they were providing two palettes of Diamond FX 12 Essentials with four #2 & four #4 brushes. It’s the same palette I use. However, the Hands On Children’s Museum (who sponsors the event) had suggested that painters be prepared for 2500 faces over the course of 7 hours! [uh… six faces a minute?!]
I would get way more brushes of varying sizes and shapes. And sponges. And baby-wipes. Just saying.
Especially if you let kids say ‘Tiger’ you need to get a square foot of orange (for example) up in a hurry.
Sidebar: if the paints are not depleted I might suggest you trade those for (a portion of?) the labor of my assistants. Those clowns have been using my paint!
Luckily, it made sense to them, and we had enough paints AND brushes to cover many many faces. Of course, we didn’t serve anywhere near the estimate. In the end, I was able to bequeath my used palette to Crystal and accept a brand new & unopened one as a perk.
“Justin is the consummate professional clown. He loves his work — and it shows! He knows his way around kids, makeup, crowd control, and parents. What I love most about working with Justin is that he strives to create a complete atmosphere of fun — with pies, music, professional props, and all the accouterments. Justin is great to work with — and I highly recommend him to anyone who wants to have a GOOD TIME !!!” Ned Hayes
Then I rushed home to get into clown and gather supplies [pies, Coke & Mentos, and water balloons]. I had a previously booked party for that evening. The client had called Marie from Sustainable South Sound asking whether I would extend my coupon from last year. She was especially excited when I further offered to bring Crystal as a Buy One Get One special.