During our recent contest that just ended, we had a great turnout of amazing clown stories being sent in. Although one winner has been chosen, we also have some truly awesome Honorable Mentions as well. I've decided to catch up with those honorable mentions and strike up a conversation with them, asking some questions that I'm sure you all will love the answers to. Below is what came about from said Interview:
Question 1: First of all, thanks for spending some time to have this interview. Could you give us a quick outline of where you got to today as a clown? Did you always know you wanted to be a clown? If not, how'd you find out that you were meant to be one?
JP (woody): "Let me start off by saying I never wanted to be a clown, I was never the type of person that liked the smallest amount of the spotlight. I never liked the idea of “putting myself out there”, even in my time in the US military, we operated in the dark far away from the lime light. When I became a Freemason, I started to get to know a few Shriner clowns and they spoke about their mission to help children. After hearing the stories of smiling children, I was sold, but had no idea how to clown."
Question 2: Care to share a favorite story of yours of a time you were in clown?
JP (woody): "One story that comes to mind is one that happened only a few weeks ago. The Rhode Island Shriners hosted NASCAR night at the local 1/8th mile racetrack. We arrived early in the afternoon to set up all the tables and what have you, as the crowds started to arrive and the events of the night started to unfold. A little girl came up to me and asked for a balloon animal, I pride myself on making “puppies”. I made her a balloon puppy and a smile that could light up the world came to her face as she happily ran off to show everyone that would pay attention to her. A few minutes later the clowns had to go on to the track and present the track announcer with a green Fez. While I was on the track, the little girl, I made the balloon puppy for, was upset because her puppy had popped. My super supportive wife that always accompanies me told her that there were other clowns, that had not gone on to the track, that would be more than happy to make her another puppy. As my wife recalls, the little girl was “not hearing that”, the girl politely but very adamantly told my wife she will wait for “her favorite clown, Woody”. As soon as I came off the track I was greeted with open arms from the little girl, I made her another puppy and told her I would always be “HER” clown."
Question 3: I love asking this question to fellow clowns; what is being a clown mean to you? What makes a clown "a clown"?
JP (woody): "Wow, what does being a clown mean to me? That is a truly deep soul searching question for me, one that I am happy to answer. Serving in the military for the last 17 years has come with extreme highs and even more extreme lows. I have struggled with PTSD for a few years and the pain and heart break that goes along with it, but with the help of my fellow clowns I have been able to overcome many things. What it means to me to be a clown is the ability to put a smile on someone’s face that might be dealing with something deep inside. When I put on grease and become "Woody" everything melts away and my “mission now” becomes one of fun and joy. Woody gives everyone that sees him a break from the burdens of everyday life. So, what it means to be a clown to me is: I (Woody) am life’s pause button. When Woody is around, bills, deadlines, problems don’t matter even if it’s just for the briefest of moments.
What makes a clown a clown? I would have to say the ability to make people smile and forget life for a while. As a clown, we break down barriers of race, color, creed and social economical barriers that seem to get in the way of everything now a day."
Question 4: Where do you see the future of clowning in today's society and on? Do you have any advice to those who are interested in pursuing this art form?
JP (woody): "I think that now the world needs clowns more than ever. The world is too serious and needs to be put on pause so we can just laugh! My advice for anyone thinking about becoming a clown is first of all, DO IT! Second, realize that becoming a clown is all encompassing. When you have the ability to make people smile it becomes addictive. Third, leave attitudes and fears at the clown room door. I know when I put on grease, everything that I am dealing with melts into the background and I am focused on making people smile. Ego has no place in clowning, so learn from other clowns and listen to what the seasoned clowns must say and heed their advice."
Wow! Some pretty powerful words. It never surprises me that clowns tend to be the best people to talk to about life and to gain wisdom from. Something about the "clown" that's so much more open to life itself than others in the "normal" world.
Thanks again to Joseph "woody" Pine for taking time in sharing his stories and wisdom with all of us, and congrats again on being a Clown Spotlight & an Honorable Mention.