As we all know, clowns come from many backgrounds, shapes, sizes and skill sets. Some clowns do parties, others the circus or even the rodeo. Not too many people recognize, however, that ministry clowns actually exist! It's awesome to know that we had a couple of them join in on our recent Clown Story Contest that ended some time back.
I don't get to talk to ministry clowns all too often, so I was super excited to get the chance to speak with Cool Beanz (Paul Magnuson):
ME: First off, can 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?
Cool Beanz: "I became a clown because the church that I attend has a clown ministry (The Merry Hearts Clowns). The head clown had a class once a year where she taught anyone who was interested in clowning. I was encouraged by others around me to take the class because they said that I was already a clown, just without the make up. I never pictured myself as a clown but once I took the class, I knew it was meant for me. I always loved being silly but with the make up and costume on, it just made my character come to life."
ME: Care to share a favorite story of yours of a time you were in clown?
Cool Beanz: "My favorite story is the one I told about going to Haiti and being able to communicate with a deaf girl there. Sign Language is my other passion and I always enjoy being able to communicate with deaf kids as a clown. I don't know of any other clowns who are either deaf themselves or can communicate with deaf children. So when I am dressed as Cool Beanz, I love to see the look in their eyes when Cool uses sign language to communicate with them. Sign Language is such an important part of deaf culture, so when they have communication access to things like a clown, it can make a big impact."
ME: I love asking this question to fellow clowns; what is being a clown mean to you? What makes a clown "a clown"?
Cool Beanz: "Being a clown means to me being able to bring joy into peoples lives. This world can be tough at times and we all need a break or a lift. Clowns can take away that burden, if just for a moment, and connect with children. We can let them know everything will be alright. Clowns can make mistakes too and that's okay. If I can put just one smile on a face that is in need of one, I feel better.
For what makes a clown a "clown", it's your heart. You can be extremely outgoing or an introverted person. Once you put that make up and costume on, you can become a different person. Your heart contains your desires. Whether we decide to show it or not is up to each individual. Behind the make up, we can show our heart to anyone and not worry about our own insecurities."
ME: 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?
Cool Beanz: "It saddens me to say that in today's society, clowns are often viewed as "scary". But what most people don't understand is what makes clowns scary. With Hollywood movies and other people dressing up as scary clowns for the sole purpose of scaring people makes what we do difficult.
On a recent missions trip to southern Illinois, our clown group was notified of a girl who was about 11 or 12 who was deathly afraid of clowns and to not go near her. After the show ended, the church provides bus transportation to all of the kids who attend our events. Each bus has one clown to ride back with the kids. The girl that was seriously afraid of clowns was on my bus. All of the kids let me know as soon as I got on the bus and I had to walk past her seat to get to my seat. She was so afraid that she was recoiling in her seat. I told her that it was okay and I was just walking by. I sat in the seat behind her but on the opposite side. As I was talking and playing around with the other kids on the bus, I kept seeing her watching me but loosening up a bit. I started asking her the same questions that I was asking the other kids and she started answering them. By the time we got to her stop, we had a great conversation. Two nights later, she came back to our show. That's what we need to do as clowns. Change peoples opinions of us by showing them that we care about them. No matter what people think, we need to prove to them that not all clowns are bad or scary.
If anyone is interested in becoming a clown, I would say go for it! If you feel it in your heart that this is something that you want to do, then go ahead. Look for a local group or alley and make sure you get the right training on your make up and costume. Some people think putting on clown make up is easy but what they don't know is that there are things to do and not to do so you are not one of those "scary" clowns. Becoming a clown has brought me joy and I want to be able to share that joy with others."
Awesome stuff! Very relevant. Due to the craze of scary "clowns" who, in my opinion, are not real clowns, we have seen a decline in the public's trust in us as clowns. We must show the world that true clowns aren't scary at all. In fact, we should be the ones comforting them, bringing a smile on their faces when they become afraid of the fake clowns (as weird as that may sound).