Category Archives: ClownCollege
“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.
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.
Over a year ago, I entered a contest to win a copy of Michael Stelzner’s book “Launch”. This was my application>
My greatest marketing challenge is reaching beyond the ‘low hanging fruit’ of birthday parties and clowning/ comedy consulting/ laughter yoga as a sideline. My goal is to parlay 10 years of experience in education to book enough school gigs, clown camps, and adult “playshares” (they’re not workshops) to pay the rent each month. I have reached the salary ceiling as a para-educator, and always run up against the same fearful, fatalistic, and authoritarian attitudes regarding students. It’s always: Walk! Quiet! You’ll lose your recess! That’s sloppy! Quit fooling around! #2 Pencils Ready! Line Up!
I’ve read Godin and Stratten and Baskin and Shankman.
I deliver FREE pie-in-the-face to published authors as a special celebration for their achievement (1st class travel and accommodation the responsibility of the piee). [See my blog for pics of Patch Adams, Monica Drake, Charlie Williams, et. al]
I think Stelzner’s new book Launch will help me take the next uncanny leap of my career. It doesn’t hurt that his name looks like Seltzer… hey, I can see a photo op in that… I hope he’s got a sense of humor.
(p.s. send me a msg if you want the password to the slightly risque “6 Ways to p/u Jusby”)
Then I made a direct appeal via instant message to as many fcbking friends as I saw online before the contest closed.
I was able to get 44 votes to my rival’s 13. A roaring success. A landslide election sweep.
The book arrived, and I absorbed its marketing ideas and added them to my uniqueness. The prize also included a series of interviews (valued at $1500) to be published on Becky Cortino’s blog. After the jump is a recreation of the first one. Her website has since crashed and simply refers everyone to fcbk. The 6-9 month follow-up article never happened.
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.
This is “Crystal”, my First of May Clown intern. Because I first discovered my clown at Evergreen, it has long seemed a natural move to become a clowning mentor for other greeners. So I decided to offer to sponsor either an internship or (as in my experience) an individual learning contract.
http://www.evergreen.edu/individualstudy/internshipinformation.htm < Find or List an Internship Here
I posted a position on Wednesday, August 9th. On Friday, August 12 I got a response:
This is your future employette, MBC.
I have a deep respect for clowning and particularly the history of clowning, as archival research and humorous entertainment are my most developed passions. I live in Olympia Washington and I am ready and willing to work to help you ensure the success of your clowning empire. I am attending a second year at Evergreen starting in late September.I will gladly send you a resume once I am on a computer that contain’s that coveted file. Please let me know if this position is already filled so that I may devise a plan to usurp the throne. I have studied clowning for three years at Wavy Gravy’s summertime circus Camp Winnarainbow in Laytonville California.
We met on the 16th and she worked her first gig on the 21st. We did a five hour face painting gig for the Love Our Local Fest: Northeast Neighborhood Block Party, and I soon found that she possesses mad skillz with paint and brushes.
By the 29th of August I had a 2nd potential intern contacting me. However, we soon discovered that unless the position was a full-time paid position she couldn’t pursue it.
I look forward to the day when I have more than enough work to cover all my expenses and can afford that kind of intern!
I immediately rewrote the internship description to clarify:
Assist the clown at parties and other events. Support the clown archives: written/ photo/ video documentation.
Position is on-call. No guaranteed monthly wages. Each meal is a banquet, every paycheck a fortune.
This is a hands-on, work-related learning experience. It is not a job-job. Opportunities for compensation will be handled with a fair mix of Show & Business.
I got a message on my phone that some DJ’s on 92.9 KISM Classic Rock saw the Seattle Times feed about clown camp and would like to talk to me…
I was otherwise engaged during their 5:30 – 10 AM show [working at Juvie]. They went ahead during their “I Can’t Believe It’s News 8/3 early” segment and had a little fun with the idea of it.
“It’s time to get serious about college. My dad told me I need to buckle up!”
“Son, have you finally figured out… four years at college… have you finally figured out where you’re going?”
“Yes, father, my career track is taking me into clowning.”
“I knew we never should have sent him to Evergreen!”
I recently jointed the Youth Enrichment Foundation as a Platinum Participating Merchant > You can now buy $100 gift checks through them toward my services. They invited me out to their annual Block Party at the Hawk’s Prairie Home Depot Parking lot. They had 60 vendors and shows every hour on the hour. I took the 2 o’clock spot and also offered to improvise during set changes with some witty banter. Since I was so close to breaking the 500th pie mark I played that up.
I reached the 500th pie by 12:45!
Kai Lyn got pied
Clown campers, Smoothy, Memo & Checked the clowns showed up and helped with the show. We did 15 minutes of Laughter Yoga and then they handled pieing another dozen faces .
the sprinkler laugh
I stuck around until after the Kids at Play set. They had about 50 youth singing and dancing selections from Honk, the musical (based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “the Ugly Duckling”). I got it into my head that I would try for a new record of faces pied ALL AT ONCE. I figured that I’d get each kid to hold a mini-pie, and I could run down the line pieing them in a wave.
They had other plans…
complete chaos and mass hysteria! They pied each other and then pied me! Oh, well. It guess I had it coming.
Is it more fun to give than receive?
Share your opinion in the comments
The Campers got their turn to be pied… and, of course, to pie Jusby!
Campers also had the chance to do their own make-up or have it done by a counselor. Memo, Smoothy, and Monstro did their own; they’ve been trying different types of make-up each day in the same basic pattern. Mini-Silly had her face done by Miss Kate. Miss Kate did her own and created a new speaking clown, Curley. I recreated Checked’s checker-board face using grease paint instead of water-based face paint.
We reviewed the skills by rotating at 1 minute intervals through 12 stations:
- juggle balls
- juggle rings
- juggle scarves
- balance stick/pole/club/etc.
- laughter yoga – hula hoop
- devil sticks/ flower sticks
At 1pm we were joined by an Olympia Parks & Recreation Camp and put on a show for them. We concluded by inviting counselors up to supervise several of the stations (stilts, hula hoop, parachute). We replaced the unicycle with the wagon and miniature bicycle.
Silliness wasn’t required – but it certainly was encouraged last week at one South Sound day camp.
Technically, there were only three rules at Clown Camp, according to instructor Justin “Jusby the Clown” Wright.
“Just be safe, just be supportive and just be challenged,” he said.
Guest counselors: Elliot (gibberish & laughter yoga) & Juliette (brain dance & balloon twisting)
“Unexpectedly walking up on clown camp made three elderly ladies (91, 83, and 82) thrilled today….and I hope the kids could feel that joy. Thank you for sharing your happy campers!“
We looked forward with great anticipation to being overrun by new clowns for the FREE & All-Ages Wednesday.
At least Juliette showed up.
Education reporter, Lisa Pemberton & photographer Tony Overman of the Olympian asked lots of questions and took lots of pictures for the Beyond the Classroom summer series. It’ll be in Monday’s paper and online at http://www.theolympian.com/education/