A Week Late Love List
Scary Os

No Contract For You!

On Wednesday, Joe and I are flying to Baraboo Wisconsin to attend a reunion in honor of the 40th anniversary of the founding of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Clown College. I think it's going to be a great time!

I had a pretty memorable experience at Clown College. I flew to Sarasota Florida in September of 1975 with another girl from the DC area who was also going. We sat side by side and chattered the whole way. We decided that we would be roommates if we could.

Bill Ballantine, the Dean of Clown College, picked us up at the airport and took us to our lodgings, the Venice Villas. Venice Villas was a cheap motel comprising a set of efficiency apartments -- one bedroom with twin beds, living room with fold-out couch and kitchenette, and bathroom. All the Clown College students stayed there. 

During the next eight weeks, the 47 of us (36 boys, 11 girls) worked our asses off to learn how to be funny.

I worked as hard as I could, but even I knew I wasn't going to make it. Mostly, I kept getting hurt, but I also just wasn't that good. (It's okay; I'm over it.)

Of course, the fact that I hooked up with one of the boys almost immediately, cussed a blue streak, and smoked dope every night on the beach probably didn't help a whole hell of a lot.

At one point, more than halfway through the session, we were told that we had to sign an agreement that said we would take a contract if we were offered one. Evidently the Felds were tired of training clowns only to have the most talented ones decline to work for Ringling Brothers.

By that point it was pretty clear to me that I was not going to get one, so I signed without hesitation. There were a few folks, though, who had no intention of accepting a clowning contract with Ringling. Since they refused to sign, they were invited to leave. They did.

The night of the big graduation show was the Night of Reckoning. After the show, which I did on crutches, the deans and the bosses got together and decided who got contracts. I went out and got drunk at Big Daddy's Bar and Grill.

About six in the morning, a knock came at the door. My roommate was sleeping on the couch, so she jumped up and answered it. It's a good thing, because the clown master told her to get dressed and report to the arena to sign her contract. She came running into the bedroom to tell me, but I had heard it go down. I congratulated her, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Of the 47 of us, 24 (3 girls, 21 boys) got contracts.

Later that morning, I packed my stuff, said goodbye to my friends, and headed for home. I did get this lovely certificate, though. Gee, thanks.