Have you ever skipped through the workmen-lined streets of Soho in silence, with your sweaty hand being held by a stranger as the winter sun warms your cheeks?
You should try it. It’s beautiful.
This was day one’s warm up on the Dr Brown ‘Clowning’ workshop, and it sure was a great introduction to what lay ahead. There were 18 clowns in training and we just about made it through to the other side. We played, we tickled, we massaged each other’s bums, and got deep down and vulnerable. A talented group of stand ups, improvisers, actors and writers but none of that mattered. We were equal in clown world and quite frankly all pretty shit - but that was the point!
“The clown is allowed to get it wrong, be horrible, be in the shit.” Phil Burgers aka Dr Brown would keep reminding us.
“Drop the act, stop acting. Act on impulse!” he would shout as he banged his drum for you to get off stage. Ouch!
You had to get real and take time to look at the audience as yourself, not the character or persona you’d normally adopt on stage. It was hard, but when I felt like I had no ideas and was at my most vulnerable that was when I truly acted on impulse. This resulted in me slapping my bum, then by boob and then my fanny…. which, and I’m not just saying this, was hilarious! I felt it! The rest of the class were really laughing, which in turn made me laugh too. It was my moment…. but then I lost it! This was ok though as I knew there was a point where the audience loved me, and Phil kept reminding us to go back to where the audience loved you the most.
“The audience is your instrument and as the clown you need to learn to play it.” Another great quote from Dr Brown!
It was really refreshing to hear how he started clowning and how hard it was for him at the beginning. The art of clowning is not something you can learn in 3 days, it’s a journey, a process. But if I can bring a little clown spirit into my performance and life in general, then the world will be a better place.
So whatever you do on stage or in life just remember; “You are enough”.