I am neither the most skillful clown, nor the funniest, but I know what will work and what won’t. Usually…
Yet there are times when I let someone else make the decisions and I get into trouble. Or Mimi The Clown gets into trouble! When asked to clown at a school near Tunis, the capital of Tunisia recently, I knew from experience that 200 first and second grade students in an open space (in the hot sun) was not going to work. As a professional, I suggested that Mimi visit the students for 20-30 minutes, moving from one classroom to the next.
As you can see in the pictures, I didn’t force my suggestion. I was just going to ‘go with the flow’. Everything was actually okay for a few minutes. The kids were great; having a good time playing with Mimi. And Mimi was just getting warmed up.
And then it was chaos! The kids kept getting closer and closer! I know that I can’t control the audience when I am in costume. That is my fault. I rely on authority figures who are present to handle crowd control for Mimi.
With a smile, I picked up my clown bag, moved intentionally through the students, and walked back into the office. I communicated to the leader that I couldn’t do anything with all the kids crowding around me, pulling my hair and costume. I really wanted to do more than just stand there.
After some discussion, the students went to their classrooms and Mimi proceeded to visit them in a nice, orderly manner. Mimi was able to do some entertaining bits with the kids where everyone could see and enjoy the fun, one classroom at a time!
To be perfectly honest, it’s been over a year and a half since I have been in costume so I was pretty nervous. I thought my clowning days were over. I was disappointed in more ways than one when I couldn’t do anything because of all the kids around me. I thought the event was a failure and a sign that I shouldn’t be clowning anymore. I was relieved and happy to visit the classrooms.
I guess it is true: it is not how you start that matters, it is how you finish. The day ended well and Mimi will probably be back in costume and makeup again soon.