Hey, it's my first guest post! Or first post by a guest! Or first guest to write a post! Or something. You know what I mean. Anyway, the lovely and talented Golf Widow has a pretty nifty offer out there, to wit: Donate two bucks to her "I've Just Gotten Laid Off and I'm Panicky" fund and she will write a guest post for you, on the subject of your choice.
Well, Golf Widow is wickedly funny, and I had just gotten a rather nice bonus, so I thought, "Hey. I like Golf Widow, and I have two bucks. I will give it to her, and I will let her write whatever she chooses."
By the way, you should also buy her book! Or make someone buy it for you! It's here:
And here is her official Red Nose Guest Post.
Hi - I'm guest-posting for my favorite lady clown, today.
I'm sort of inspired to talk about the circus a little, obviously.
I actually have two clowny blog-buddies. Andy Martello, who is also my podcast cohost, is a Ringling graduate, though he doesn't work in a circus environment anymore. This is because, in a mad fit of irony, he married a woman who is terrified of clowns.
I used to be afraid of clowns myself, when I was a tiny kid. It wasn't anything personal. I was afraid of anyone who concealed their faces in any way, even by accident. My poor uncle had to cope with my hiding whenever he and his newly-cultivated mustache approached me. Our neighbor, another mustachioed gentleman, used to wait at the bottom of the slide so we wouldn't fall. I'd let him catch me (I wasn't allowed to slide without a grownup), but I kept my head well turned away. My mother once had to calm my terror just because a bottle of ketchup splattered on her cheeks.
Eventually, I got over my fear of clowns, but it was still years before I got to go to a real circus.
Circumstances conspired against me. The circus wasn't in town when I was in kindergarten; it was, when my brother went to kindergarten the next year.
The first circus I went to was the one my brother's kindergarten class put on, after their field trip. My brother was the ringmaster. I was hellaciously, inordinately proud of this fact, even though he was way littler than my first-grade self.
You think I don't remember any of this. His top hat was made of green construction paper. Take that, memory banks.
The Big Apple Circus came to town a few times over the years, but I missed out on it every time for a while, there. It seemed they scheduled their tours to coincide with strep throat season. Everyone else was having popcorn and watching clowns. I was home having ginger ale and watching The Price is Right.
Finally, finally, the circus was in town at the same time I was actually healthy enough to go, and we went.
And I hated it.
The animals looked sad, and scared, and they smelled bad. The clowns looked happy from far away, but when they got close, you could see that that was just makeup - underneath, they looked ... bored.
I later learned from Andy that that couldn't have been any kind of quality circus, and that his own training was rigid about making sure you were In the Moment when you were being a clown. I rather agree with him, on that score. I still didn't like the fact that the animals couldn't get on a bus and leave if they weren't happy, but I eventually got over the whole bored-clown trauma.
My mother went to see "Barnum" at dinner theater, and had to convince a clown that he couldn't have anything to eat off her plate. I was sorry to have missed out on that experience (though I did go through a similar exchange with a hippie when I saw "Hair" performed in the round).
I haven't been to a traditional circus since that one-ring when I was a kid, but I do occasionally watch them on television, and I enjoy reading about them.
I wept copiously over the film "The Greatest Show on Earth," but it was a good weepy movie.
And Andy makes fun of me for liking Cirque du Soleil, but it is what it is: no animals; and the clowns are funny not because of their makeup, which is minimal, but because of their antics.
As is only right and proper. They don't call it "clowning around" because they're good at applying greasepaint.
By the way, Andy was not in my Clown College class, because he is just a precious darling boy and attended way later than I did. But he's totally right -- we were taught to always be in character and in the moment.
Honest, we're not all scary.
Thank you, Golf Widow!