In pursuit of a successful career, one key is to look professional. Success does not just mean a wealthy business person or movie star, rather could refer to an Olympic champion or a great chef. Dressing for success can mean very different things to each of these lifestyles, an athlete would not bode well in a business suit and dress shoes, nor would it be a wise choice to wear a swimsuit to a Fortune 500 board meeting. The chef would wear clean clothing befitting the kitchen, the board of health would not approve of clothes that were worn to clean out a pig trough.
Should a clown follow this rule?
Clowning is serious business; sounds strange but this is true. We work hard to learn skits, magic tricks, juggling and other skills to impress our audience, so we should also look the part. People judge by appearance and if you show up to a gig in a sloppy half attempt of a clown costume, this will certainly set the tone for their opinion of you. You might be an amazing performer but it is hard getting past looks. If an attorney walks into a court room looking as if they slept in their clothes while carrying important papers in a cardboard box, the confidence level of the client will not be high. We want the first impression to be, WOW look at that clown, then dazzle them with our skills.
Part of creating a clown character is coming up with a look. Are you a spiffy looking Whiteface with neat clothes or a rambunctious Auguste with crazy patterns whose pants might be a bit baggy or a lovable Hobo with tattered but colorfully patched clothes? Your wardrobe helps define who you are as a clown and can be a key part of being recognized by selecting things unique to your character. This is part of the fun when creating a clown character, so why would you want to skimp out and have a less than amazing wardrobe. Don’t forget, people love to have their photo with clowns and you want to stand out as the star of the show, not fade into the crowd with a less than impressive ensemble.
But I don’t clown:
For those family entertainers who are not a clown, this rule also applies. Face painters can have some sort of uniform, often times a shirt printed with the business name is a good look and great advertisement piece. Many face painters also wear an apron or artists smock that helps keep clothes clean and creates a cool professional look. Magicians are no longer stuck to the tradition of the tuxedo or even suit coat but having a look is still a good idea, you want people to recognize that you are there to entertain. A restaurant magician my choose to still have a jacket, for one this is a great place to store the magic supplies and also will also set you apart form the busboy. A children’s stage performer may want a fun brightly colored shirt and casual slacks or jeans for a more relaxed feel. I know a balloonist who wears a tie dyed shirt with a big smiley face on the front, he also makes himself a balloon top hat to wear as he twists balloons. He has created a fun look that works for him and the balloon hat helps him be spotted from quite a distance. You may even have the chance to create a new character for a show, embrace the opportunity and let your imagination run wild. I was hired for a Renaissance themed banquet to portray Merlin and entertain the guests with magic. Fortunately I know the owner of a local costume shop that had an amazing wizard costume to loan, I had the beard and wig already to complete the look. Creating a version of Merlin which worked for my magic style was the final step and “poof” I was Merlin. The show went very well and I received many compliments on the wizard garb.
Proof in the pudding:
I’ve worked with a great comic juggler who has an act in which he appears as a wacky waiter. His wardrobe; a white shirt, bow tie, slacks and apron, a look easily recognized as a waiter. In the show he spins plates, juggles cutlery, catches silverware in a glass and many other zany stunts, all while keeping the audience in stitches. He has taken seemingly ordinary kitchen items to create a hilarious juggling act. If he were to perform in normal street clothes the act would still be great but far less memorable. His extra effort to dress the part truly pays off.
So don’t sell yourself short, work on a look and wardrobe that is special to you, one that will make you proud and have people remembering you down the road.