Oct 19 – Burning Ring of Fire

Well another clown class has come and gone. I have to say that before hand I was filled with a sense of dread. Mostly because of our assignment. We had to come with a trick to do. Not only a trick that we can do, but a trick no one else can do.

First of all the category of trick is quite broad.

Card trick, pony trick, a trick you can do with you body (like crossing your eyes, or wiggling your ears). Standing on your head? Is that a trick? Juggling? They all sound like tricks to me. Since I can’t juggle, I can’t stand on my head, and I don’t have a pony, I was left with cards and the body. Cards seemed to me to be more magician-like than clown-like, and anyone can do a card trick, so I ruled out the cards.

I do have a trick I can do with my body. Actually I have two, but the second one requires some nudity, and I didn’t think that was appropriate to a classroom environment. I have this thing I can do with my fingers, where I make them wiggle back and forth like a snake. It is hard to describe. If I can figure out how to get some video of it, I will put it up. It makes my fingers look boneless, like the bones have been replaced with cartilage.

Anyway, I put my index fingers together and do a snaky movement. Wiggly Snake Fingers. That’s it. That’s my trick.

Not very many people can do it (that I’ve met), so it seemed to fit the bill. It also seemed sort of lame. I had envisioned that everyone else would be bringing in all sorts of cool things, and doing all sorts of cool tricks, so I had a back up trick. The problem was I couldn’t really do my back-up trick, which was balancing a stick on my head, while I tried walking on my knees.

I was torn. Try the finger trick that I could do, or the back-up trick that I couldn’t do, but which seemed cooler.

When I arrived at class (I always get there really early because I come from work which is only a mile away), one guy was there. He had brought a skateboard, and some croquet balls and a mallet, and a bucket to hit the balls into as he was riding the skateboard. It all seemed vary elaborate to me. Just like I had imagined, people had cooler ideas than me. My finger trick was looking lamer. I would go for the stick.

Then class started and we did our warm-ups and our exercises (more about a particular exercise in the next entry). Then came time to do the tricks. We set up the ring with our chairs, and put our props beside us. I set my stick next to my chair.

The first guy went. He had a rough time. The flames started rising and George’s maniacal laughter started cackling through the smoke. OK, I am exaggerating, but there was some definite grilling going on. The first guy had no props and he didn’t really even do a trick, which is what got him in trouble with George.

He showed us that he had nothing in his hands, and then pantomimed a magician making something disappear. Then he showed us his empty hands again, and said, “Gone,” in a little sad clown voice. He made nothing disappear; he made nothing happen. George challenged him. So the guy took a quarter out of his pocket and pretended to make it appear. Magic.

George didn’t let that go either. “Clown, Did you just pull that out of your pocket?”


“Are you lying to me?”


“Well, then make two more quarters appear.”

And of course he couldn’t do that because he had no more quarters. Lesson learned: You have to have a trick that does something.

I went next. I wasn’t planning on it, but after the first guy, no one got up to go, so I did. I have been going first or second consistently because I like to get it over with, but I thought I should give others that chance.

At the last minute I decided to do my finger thing instead of the stick thing that I couldn’t do anyway, which turned out to be a wise decision, because someone else got grilled for having a trick they couldn’t do.

I came out, showed my index fingers to the audience. George said he hoped this wasn’t a trick he had seen before, and apparently way to many times by his expression. I assumed that this wasn’t likely, but who knew? Maybe many other people can do Wiggly Snake Fingers.

I clapped my fingers together and let them go. I could tell then by George’s face that he hadn’t seen Wiggly Snake Fingers before. I wiggled them center stage, then I circled the ring so everyone could see up close. Then I stopped, because really, I hadn’t thought any further than that.

Luckily George “saved” me by asking me to sing the song that went with movement. I started with the snake charmer song (you know the one), but that seemed to predictable, so I just started la-la-la-ing, very off key and no particular melody. I went on for a while wiggling fingers and singing, roaming the ring, trying to match the sound and movement, but I couldn’t sustain it, so I stopped.

“Is that it?” Implied: You’d better keep going.

“Um, no, that was just the first verse.”

I started up again. Even more exaggerated, and I started to laugh because it was ridiculous. Luckily I noticed through my haze of nerves, laughter, and silliness, that other people were laughing too. OK, so this wasn’t going to bad. I went on stopped.

“Is that it?”

“Oh there is an interlude.”

I started up again. It was getting hard to breath in my clown nose. I was breathing hard enough that my clown nose was almost coming off my face as I breathed out and then sucking onto my face as I inhaled.

Finally, I stopped. “Thank you, Clown.”

I got out of the ring, out of breath, and sweaty. Wahoo.

I watched the others. Some were hysterical, some were a painful, some were both.

Afterwards we got some notes. I got a couple of small critiques from George about trying to be too clever with the interlude comment. And a note that when I crack up to let it be the clown that has the laughter. Good notes.

Then we got our next assignment. Bring in another trick.

Now what am I going to do?


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