Thursday, June 22, 2017

Clown Day

Hello everyone, Steve Copeland here. Things are going well at Circus World; it is just crazy to believe that we have been open for a month now! It really feels like we just started yesterday....if yesterday was a month ago.

One interesting event that happened this past weekend was Clown Day. I don’t know when it started at Circus World, but we were part of it last summer.
A large number of students from the LaCrosse, WI based Clown Camp made a trip down to visit Circus World and see some of the shows. They then went to the International Clown Hall of Fame, also located here in Baraboo, to get a tour of that amazing establishment as well.
In addition to our special guests, on Clown Day, anyone dressed as a clown can get into the park for free.

Last year it was hyped to us that all fifty or so visiting Clown Camp students would be in full makeup and costume. We braced ourselves for that overwhelming tidal wave of bright colors and exhausting one-upmanship, but we were actually disappointed when not one of the students came dressed up. I guess they opted out when they realized they’d have to be in makeup and costume all day. You know, like you do when being a clown is your job....

I can just hear “Frosty” Little singing, “So ya wanna be a clown…..”

This year there were only about thirty campers that made the pilgrimage to Circus World. We were happy to see some familiar faces, as well as many new ones. Everyone was very excited to come see our shows, and they were all very nice and complimentary. 

Our morning Be A Clown show was a definite hit for the campers. At the start of the season it was a makeup demo, but it bored the audience to tears. Since we've changed it to a more generalized show about being a clown (covering makeup, wigs, noses, big shoes, props, and slapstick), and infused our own sardonic wit into the proceedings, it has been much more of a success.
In fact, since it plays so much like a class in clowning, we had several of the students and staff ask if we had adapted the show just for them.
Nope! We like to give every Circus World guest an in depth understanding of how we work, so they can come along in the future to undercut us and take our jobs! 

After that first show Ryan and I had the pleasure of visiting with Kenny and Brenda Ahern, Darlene Campo, and Joe Dieffenbacher. 
Kenny and Brenda are now in charge of Clown Camp, and I am excited to see what they do with the program.
Darlene and Joe both went to Clown College with Kenny back in 1983 (a great year…I was born then!) and Brenda went in 1987. All four toured on Ringling, the Aherns on Blue (I saw them at my very first circus in 1989), and Joe and Darlene on the Red Unit’s Pink Panther themed show in 1984.
Ryan and I enjoyed talking clowning and swapping road stories with the funny foursome.

Like I said earlier in the post, anyone dressed as a clown could gain free admittance to the park on Clown Day, but I was very disappointed that we saw only three people take advantage of that. Unfortunately, two of them were just a couple of jackasses that really tested the definition of what is considered a clown.
One was a girl in a one piece jumpsuit. She had white makeup smeared on her face, and she had painted a huge red smile reaching from one ear to the other. On top of her head she wore a ratty rainbow colored afro wig. I was upset that so many people went up to her and asked if she was Steve or Ryan.....
Her boyfriend was wearing a scary clown mask and a dark, dingy looking one piece jumpsuit; he wore the frightening mask the entire show.

Everyone in the cast asked Ryan and I if we saw the strange couple in the seats; I guess they were trying to get a rise out of us on account of the scary clown. Our thoughts were if that moron wanted to sit in that hot tent for over an hour wearing a rubber mask, more power to him! It might sweat some sense into him!

I was really hoping that they would show up to Nothing But Nonsense, because Ryan and I had a great bit planned.
Ryan was going to announce that our friends from Clown Camp were in the audience, and then he was going to introduce the leaders of the program, Kenny and Brenda.
I was then going to say it was a special show because our mentors were also in the audience, and I was going to introduce the two scary clowns: the girl as Ronald McDonald’s sister, Myrtle McDonald, and the mook in the mask as “Sparkles”.
Unfortunately the dynamic duo didn’t show, so we weren’t able to unleash our “ad-lib” on the guests.

Last year, one of the Clown Camp students auditioned for the opportunity to perform an act in the big top show.
We were told that there were no acts of a high enough caliber to go in the show this year, which was disappointing to hear.

Instead, Bruce “Charlie” Johnson, one of the staff members, performed a routine in the place of our pants chase.
I know Bruce because he and I are on the Board of Directors of the International Clown Hall of Fame, and I also know him from my youth because I would see his name on various clown websites when I was researching the art form. Bruce is a clown historian, and has many articles published online and in different clown periodicals. 
I enjoyed chatting with Bruce during the big top show about his time with Circus Kirk and the five ringed behemoth, Carson & Barnes.

As the cast was exiting the big top to meet and greet the guests in the reception tent, a little old lady clown whose costume made her look like a cupcake was just arriving to watch the show.
We informed the cupcake lady that she had just missed the performance, which she was upset about. We informed her that there was another big top show at 2:30 p.m., which seemed to buoy her spirits.

As Ryan and I were walking to the Hippodrome building to set the props for Nothing But Nonsense, Ryan and I saw the lady walking determinedly towards some unknown destination…a cupcake on a mission.
That was the last we saw of her....

At the end of the day I remarked that we hadn't seen her at the second big top show, and I wondered where she was.
The only logical assumption is that she is still roaming the sixty acres of Circus World grounds, sleeping under wagons for shelter, and eating rabbits and geese for sustenance.

Aside from Clown Day, everything is going swimmingly in Baraboo. I say swimmingly because it has been raining almost every day lately.
When we opened it rained for about a solid week, and then we seemed to have two weeks of wonderful drought.
Now we're back to mud in the backyard and standing water in the tent's backstage. Ah, just like the good ol' days!

Leave a comment and let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to hear about in any of my next blog posts. I'd much rather write about things that people want to read about.
In the near future I'd like to talk about our show, Nothing But Nonsense, but I know that's going to be a monster of a post, and it is too daunting a task for me right now.

See you all next week!


Lisa said...

Thanks for all the details of the life of a clown!! Very interesting, and allows us to get to know you quite a bit. happy, mad, sad, rainy, all that. Keep writing, we never get to hear details like this, anywhere. makes me feel like I'm hearing the inside scoop!! see you in July!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for what you do.. Can not wait to meet you in July. . god bless you all.sincerely Connie Pritchard Reinhardt

Debbe said...

Steve and Ryan.
I brought my 5 year old grandson to Circus World June 15th. He was enthralled with your show. Before the Big Top show one of you asked him how his popcorn was and he gave you a thumbs up. That was one of the highlights of the day. He told everyone about it. He though your show was hilarious. It was a toss up as to whether I got more pleasure from watching you perform or watching him watching you perform. Thanks for the wonderful memories. You guys are terrific.

Steve Copeland said...

Thank you, and see you in July!

Steve Copeland said...

Thanks, Connie. See you next month!

Steve Copeland said...

Thank you for sharing, Debbie.
I think it is great that something as small as asking him that question made such an impression on him.
That's definitely a good reminder for us.
Thank you for coming to see our shows!