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Jonathan’s Surprise Visit

I got a call around 11 AM from California.  A mom’s travel plans had fallen through, so she was looking to surprise her son with a pie-in-the-face delivery that evening.  She used to plan elaborate theme parties for him, so when he had heard the news he remarked, “You’re not coming? What, no clown either?”.

Quickly google-ing, she found a clown offering “a twist” on traditional birthday clown services: C’est Moi!

jk

Jonathan is turning 23.  He’s a senior at Evergreen, my alma mater.  He’s the proud father of a 6 week old.  I asked him, “Is it too early to ask what you’re doing next?”

“Graduate school,” he answered without hesitation.

“Well, there is one economical alternative in post-baccalaureate certification I can recommend: the food handlers’ permit!” (said while donning fingerless dishwashing gloves)

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His mom originally scheduled me for a 6:30 delivery, but pushed it back until after 7.. which coincidentally had me arrive during the middle of another epic hailstorm.

jkd

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Never before seen follow-up from Book Contest

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.

http://www.evergreen.edu/individualstudy/internships.htm

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.

 

1st of May’s 1st Parade

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First of May Clown Internship

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.

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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.

 

Brad & John of KISM Bellingham

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.

https://jusbytheclown.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/bradnjohne.mp3 LISTEN HERE<

“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!”

 

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