This Halloween I made the decision to go out as a sad clown; an oddly easy choice considering my normal disdain for clowns.
I, like many people, find clowns to be disturbing and not at all humorous. Although I am not coulrophobic, I do not welcome images of clowns into my dreams despite (or perhaps because of) having grown up with Bozo.
During one of my all-too-frequent YouTube marathons, I came across this segment with Emmett Kelly on What’s My Line in 1956:
I was mesmerized This man was truly in his element, able to communicate a full range of emotions with little more than expressions and grunts. In a six minute segment, Kelly elicits a range of emotions from the panel and audience. Initially they laugh at his amusing entrance and antics with host John Daly. Later, as we discover that he isn’t allowed to speak when wearing his makeup, you can feel the sympathy from the panel and studio audience.
In today’s world we have forgotten how to communicate without using words. We’re so obsessed with them that we have even created systems to limit ourselves from saying too much. As anyone who follows a prolific Twitter user knows, that doesn’t exactly work as intended.
|Me, as a sad clown. So, so sad.|
And so, suddenly, I knew what I wanted to be for Halloween. A silent, sad clown. Just like Emmett Kelly. Over a period of two nights I went out into the world and didn’t speak a word. Here is what I discovered, with some advice thrown in for anyone considering a night out as a sad clown:
- Doing the makeup is extremely difficult. It should be considered an art form.
- The outfit is fun because when you wear it you don’t worry about how you look; you’re already absurd. No one is checking out your ass when you’re clowning, unless you’re showing it to them for comedic effect.
- If you go to a club as a sad clown, drunk women will through themselves at you and offer you anything to make you smile. Don’t. You’ll get free lap dances. Sadly, you have to pretend you aren’t enjoying them. You usually aren’t anyway.
- You can earn money as a clown. I made $0.81. $0.31 of it I found on the floor but the other $0.50 I got from a lovely young lady for brushing her boots with a pool table brush. One woman offered me a handful of $20s to smile (which, obviously, I refused). Everyone else spent money, but the sad clown came home richer!
- Someone is always going to be looking at you. Never break character. Don’t check your phone. Don’t talk, and never smile. If one person sees you out of character the magic is lost. One of my favorite things was when someone would see me a second or third time and say “Oh no, you’re still sad!” That’s when even the hesitant break down and give you a hug.
- Speaking of hugs, you can pretty much hug anyone you want as long as they aren’t clearly afraid. This is wonderful. I wish this is how people treated each other when they were sad without makeup on.
- You know you’ve go it right when people want their picture taken with you and they look at it and say “awe”.
- If you really get into the character you will forget who you were and suddenly find that everything is so much easier. You can make eye contact with the most beautiful woman in the room and bashfully look away sadly, and when you glance back she’ll be smiling. That rarely works when I try it in my business suit.
- Everyone is going to want to touch the nose. Don’t let them. I never figured out what to do when this happened.
- People at parties and clubs can only handle so much sadness. Eventually they start to get angry because you won’t smile or speak. This says a lot about people in general. You will eventually need to leave or things will get tense.
- The clown walk is murder on the knees and lower back. I don’t know how professional clowns do it.
- Carry a spare case of makeup. Something will happen and you’ll need to fix it.