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Laughter Yoga and the Sacred Fool

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.

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I got 8 more willing faces to accept the sacramental pie including one woman whose birthday just so happened to be today.

Pie in the face

SURPRISE!

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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.

 

Lost Article from Book Contest

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.

Read the rest of this entry

The Clown Continuum – by Monica Drake for The Paris Review

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.

For the Full Essay Go Here> http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/08/13/the-clown-continuum/

Here’s a PDF to Download “The Clown Continuum”

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