For those of you who are familiar with J.T. “Bubba” Sikes you certainly recognize his catchphrase, “Normal is Boring”. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting him in person at one of his public appearances then you know that this statement fits Bubba to a tee for he is far from normal or boring.
Recently I had the pleasure of hanging out with Bubba at an event hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Magicians or FCM. This event was a collection of clowns, magicians, balloon twisters and other entertainers who all have the common goal of using their talents to help spread the Gospel message. Vendor’s tables were full of props and supplies that would help any one get their start in Gospel Magic and Clowning. Bubba was there teaching workshops and also was featured in the evening show with his friend and fellow Christian entertainment Duane Laflin.
I was able to get some Q & A time and here is what we learned.
1. What got you started into clowning and entertaining?
While serving in the U.S. Navy, I would visit orphans overseas when I had time off. I would always do my best to make them laugh and smile. When I retired, I wanted to continue that service to mankind and I used Clowning to open doors of service and ministry.
2. Tell us a bit about how your talents help you in your ministry.
I grew up watching the Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, Bud Abbot & Lou Costello, Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Jerry Lewis and the Bowery Boys. They molded my character with a little piece of each of them. My skills came from reading books on Magic, Comedy Improv, Juggling and books on humor. God put a burning desire in my heart to make people enjoy life. Laughter happens to be my best assistant for my limited talent.
3. You have a few characters tell us about one of them.
Dr. whack-O is my very special clown character that ministers to Children of all ages in the Hospital or Nursing home. My specialty is dealing with cancer patients. Thru this character, patients, family members and the medical staff welcome me into their world to a few moments of Fun and Laughter. If I can make them forget the cancer for just 3 minutes, my work is successful.
4. Share with us the purpose of creating different characters and the process involved.
Different characters usually come from a need to entertain a specific audience. Once you identify that need for a character, study what makes that character unique, what are the identifiable traits. Ask yourself if this character wears a uniform or special type clothing, hats, hairstyle, shoes or identifying emblems. Once you figure these things out, make a list you will follow to get everything together to become this recognizable figure. Don’t forget to study the walk, speech patterns and gestures. You want your clown character to be immediately recognizable. When you get all this figured out, put it together and start working on your routine.
5.What advise would you give for up and coming clowns and like entertainers.
Please remember this, Clowning is an art form and in an art form, the artists MUST be allowed to interpret that form of art. In clowning, there are No rule books. We do have guides and suggestions to follow, but you must interpret what your clown will be, do, look like, wear and say or not say. Study working clowns, clowns of years past, books, video, You Tube, go to the circus, whatever it takes. Follow your dream for your service to mankind thru laughter.
Having spent a better part of a day visiting with and watching the man in action I can tell you these words he shared are definitely words by which he lives. I had so much fun laughing a listening to stories of his travels; I didn’t want my time with Bubba to end. The evening concluded with a show that combined the talents of other entertainers gifted with song, ventriloquism, magic, comedy and even chalk art; all of this graced with Duane Laflin as the Emcee. Bubba rounded out the evening with his unique show filled with song, magic and clowning around all being brought together with the story of his own commitment to Christ.
We hope you found this story both fun and inspiring as you continue on with your pursuit as an entertainer and don’t forget “Normal is Boring!”