Nov 1 – A clown is born

Yesterday I mentioned that I had two assignments for my Clown class. One was to write about what I had learned so far, the other was to come up with my clown’s name. The writing part was relatively easy considering I have been doing this blog, so I have been in the habit of writing about my learning experiences. Coming up with a clown name, however, was a different matter.

I had three days to figure it out. At first I would try and think of something and get frustrated and stop thinking about it. Then I would have a panic attack when I suddenly remembered I had to come up with a name, and I hadn’t been thinking about it. Then I would think about it, and then get frustrated, etc., etc.

Finally on the last day I had managed to come up with a name. I had been soliciting people for suggestions, and my friend Bucky submitted a long list. None of them rang quite true, but I chopped a few of his suggestions up, cobbled them together, and came up with the name Quilby or Quilbee (spelling wasn’t decided yet.)

I was now ready to go to class.

We started class off by almost immediately getting into clown clothes. We warmed up in clown and did a lot of vocal warm ups to get ready for the evenings exercises. The main exercise we did was a clown emotional competition.

The clown emotional competition consists of two clowns dividing the performance space in half, left side and right side. Each clown tries to get the audience to pay attention to them and not the other clown by using emotions. The audience votes during the performance by pointing at whatever clown they think is more interesting, giving the clowns immediate visual feedback on whether they are succeeding or not. At the end of the competition a vote is taken to see which clown won. There are points taken off for rule violations, like crossing into the other clowns side of the stage, or using something other than an emotion to lure the audience into looking at you.

So that’s the rule breakdown, but what does it look like? Imagine two clowns on stage side by side wailing with sorrow, laughing hysterically, stomping angrily, cowering in fear. Writhing, begging, flailing, jumping, moaning, waving to get attention. It is pretty exhausting after a minute or two. My score was one win and one loss.

The next big event of the night was the Clown Naming Ceremony. This is where we were going to get to use our names. Or so we thought. Really, it shouldn’t have surprised me what happened.

Here were the exercise guidelines as given. Come out on stage excited and ready to announce your name, then when it is time to say your name you forget it, you try and try to remember it, and then you do finally remember it, and then say it to the audience. Seems simple enough. Too simple (cue the creepy movie music).

Update:  I used to have a description of the clown naming ceremony, but then realized that people actually read my blog on occasion who might take this class.  And that takes all the fun out of it.  So I’ve removed the gory details.  If you want to know, take the class. My clown name is Smarly.

Ta da! A clown is born.

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