Nov 15 – How many clowns can you fit in the eye of a needle?


Another clown class down. It’s hard to believe but there are only three classes left. I feel like I need at least another year doing this, if not more. I could not say I achieved any sort of competency yet, unless consistent failure is a kind of competency.

More clown games. The other night in class we played clown keep away. Similar to the clown relay race in its purpose of letting our clowns out to play. We had two teams of two clowns each. One team would throw a ball back and forth between them, trying to keep it away from the other team. If the other team got the ball the roles were reversed.

I can only imagine what it looked like to someone watching from the outside. At some point I was at the bottom of a clown pile-up as we were all struggling to get the ball. I have some skid marks on my kneecaps from diving to get the ball.

Clowning is dangerous.

I also whacked my head good last night being a monster under the table. In that game one clown gets to be under the table (the monster), while the other clown has to get on the table from one side, and jump off the other side without getting touched. In trying to reach up and get the other clown I kept forgetting I was under a table and whacked my head repeatedly. I did finally succeed in dragging my victim under the table and chewing on his leg a little, so I guess it was worth it.

Last night we had to do a trick. I have written about doing a trick before, but this time we had to do it with another person. We didn’t get to practice before hand because our schedules conflicted, but it didn’t really matter. The trick isn’t really the important part, it’s what we do in the process that is important.

Our trick was that one of us would hold a stick that had a ring, about 8 inches in diameter, tied to the sitck by a string. Then the other clown was to bounce a tennis ball once on the floor and have the rebounding ball go through the hoop. Simple really. Of course we didn’t get it right.

But then as we keep getting reminded, success isn’t the most important thing. It is the interaction that is important. The focus of these exercises is to be able to spot “threads”. What’s a thread? It is sort of hard to define, just as it is hard to notice while we are up there in the ring and doing our tricks.

Threads are a moment, an event, that can potentially lead to another state of interactions. Maybe someone sticking out their hand for a handshake. It’s a proposition, that can then be followed. You take the hand, or you don’t. You take the hand and you don’t let go of it, even when the person wants you to. You don’t take the hand and then the person is hurt and starts to cry, and then what follows?

The hard part is learning to recognize the potential in all these moments (some are better than others), and have the imagination, and commitment really, to follow the thread to the end.

Too often we drop the threads before we get to the juicy part, mostly out of indecision and fear of doing the wrong thing. It’s that commitment thing I keep hearing over and over again in my classes. I guess it must be important.

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