Have you ever received a request to entertain for a large group of people but they want something different than face painting and balloon animals? Well we clowns are clever and creative so of course we can give them more than princess face paints and balloon dogs. Past articles have featured ideas on ways to entertain the masses like picnic games, silent clowning also the article Life with the Big Top, where John Winslow talked about bringing a circus style show to smaller venues.
Many of my clown friends have come up with fun games which can be put together very inexpensively, sometimes with items from the local dollar store and can be played indoors as well as outside. In addition to games maybe do a short skit or act out a story using kids as helpers. If you can juggle even just a little, this is the perfect time to hone your skills, juggling scarves is really fun and you can get the kids involved too.
Games: Things like the ring toss, shooting gallery or knocking over milk cans come to mind when thinking carnival games. These are things we can duplicate for our clown carnival and often times at a low cost. Set up the games in a midway fashion to help monitor the activity. Hiring helpers to run the games is a great idea, this would increase your fee, I like to suggest the client lends me a few helpers so I don’t have to charge them extra to bring in my own assistants. This is also a nice way to make your client feel part of the entertainment.
Shooting Gallery: Plastic Solo cups make for great targets and they won’t shatter and make a mess. Use a Nerf gun for obvious safety reasons but limit the foam darts so the contestants don’t just have a free for all.
Ring Toss: Sometimes you can actually find a ring toss game at a toy or sports store but the small cones seen at youth soccer matches work great as well and throwing rings are usually easy to find at the toy stores.
Ball Toss: I like to use colorful plastic trash cans (which I found at the dollar store) and little plastic balls for a tossing game. This can be easier for the little ones than the ring toss. The tots toss the balls into the plastic cans set at varying distances and this will keep them very busy and entertained.
Milk Cans: Now here you have several options for targets; Milk or creamer is sold in the small jugs that resemble the cans used at the carnivals, also some of the sports drink bottles make great targets. Just remember once they are empty wash them thoroughly to avoid unpleasant orders or stickiness. Light weight juggling balls or a similar weighted ball work great for throwing. This way even if the kids get too wound up on the throw, the ball still throws softer, less likely damaging the targets.
Putt range: A kiddie golf set from the toy store which contains plastic clubs, balls and a cool plastic golf bag to hold the supplies is just the ticket for a putting game. I also bought extra plastic golf balls since the kit only had a couple included. This is so simple and fun, just lay two or three plastic cups on the side and put a metal washer inside to help hold them steady when the ball goes in. If you play this out side it’s easier on a hard surface as the plastic balls don’t roll far on the grass.
Time to mingle: Interacting with the crowd is very important and not being tied down to a face paint or balloon twisting line allows us that opportunity. Even if you haven’t been booked to do a full magic show, now is the time to show off the cool pocket magic that you have been practicing. Mingle through the crowd, pose for some pictures, pass out some stickers and just have fun. This is the type of environment that will allow you to show off your may other talents as an entertainer.
Be creative: Remember, the client asked you to entertain the crowd, so you can set the stage. Perhaps you are a good story teller or have a nice singing voice, there is nothing wrong with introducing other artistic talents into your clown act. I’m sure you will come up with some clever ideas that you will soon be sharing with your friends.