For the Beginning Clown

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Taupie, an Auguste Clown, with Balloon Bicycle
Taupie, an Auguste Clown, with his new "bike"
Are you thinking of becoming a clown? First ask yourself, “What is the reason I want to become a clown?”  Are you a person who gives freely to others, has a good sense of humor, likes to have fun and lift peoples spirits through laughter and creative talents, have a great deal of patience? If you said yes to any of these you are well on your way to what it takes to inwardly be a clown, now for the exterior.

Can you wear makeup and a costume? Many people don’t think of the simple fact that applying clown makeup can be physically taxing especially in the heat. Clown costumes can also be very warm and difficult in the hot season. This is not to scare anyone away from becoming a clown but to make you aware of the physical demand we carry even before we start to perform and make people smile.

So now let’s get you started on your journey of becoming a clown…


Tippy, a White Face Clown Tippy, juggling
White Face Clown - Tippy, juggling
 
Reading a book such as Strutter’s Complete Guide to Clown Makeup by Jim Roberts is a great way to get insight into the three types of clowns: Whiteface, Auguste and Tramp/ Hobo, and the make up and costuming requirements of each. If at all possible, try to find a clown class (check with your local continuing or adult education programs), or try to finding a clown mentor by joining a local clown alley; a seasoned professional can help you mold yourself into and excellent clown.

Your first step in developing your clown character is to decide which of the three clown types best suits you. Will you be somewhat neat and reserved like the Whiteface, slapstick and goofy like the Auguste or best suited for the sad Tramp or a Happy-Go-Lucky Hobo? Once you decide on the clown type, design your face, which needs to be unique to your character and your facial structure, don’t just copy a face out of a book and try too make it your own. Always use a professional line of clown make up, as this will deliver the best results for a professional looking clown face and minimize any possible allergic reactions (they’re rare, but it happens).

Next, begin building your costume; there are many routes in choosing a costume, remember again to follow your specific characters costume requirements. Before purchasing an expensive clown costume, try a visit to the used clothes store, with a creative mind one can find some great items that can be modified into a good beginners costume. Also, if you know a seamstress, it can be more affordable to have them sew a simple clown costume for your first wardrobe and it can be made more personal to your character. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a professional costume right away; this suggestion is just to help keep the cost down for your first steps in to the clown world.

Rustopher, Tramp Clown, in a sad situation
Rustopher,  Tramp Clown, in a sad situation

Somewhere between choosing your clown type and stepping out in front of your first audience you need a good clown name. Choosing a name might be as simple as your favorite emotion like Happy or Zany, perhaps your favorite sound Snap or Crinkle, or a childhood nickname Like “LuLu” or “Bizy.” Make sure the name suits the character you are portraying; it wouldn’t really fit to have a neat Whiteface named Droopy or a sad Tramp called Sparkles.

Whatever the type of clown you wish to be, practice your skills and always be willing to learn something new!

Joining a local clown alley is very good for broadening your clown horizons, this will allow you to see the many types of clowns and the tricks of the trade in action such as balloon twisting, skits, face painting, juggling and more in action. Many local clown alleys are listed on the Clowns of America Intl (COAI) and the World Clown Association (WCA) websites. Finally, attend local, regional or even national clown classes and conventions if you’re able, see the Clown Antics Clown Events list to get started. Even if you just learn one new thing, or make one new contact, these conventions are worth it!

 


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