The Art of Clowning
Down through the ages,
the art of clowning has included the use of various talents...
Drama, music, dance, wit, acrobatics, juggling, riding and, of course, make-up are all used in various combination to make people laugh.
One of the greatest skills used, however, has been in the art of pantomime. Pantomime has attracted some of the world's renowned artists.
Charlie Chaplin's silent films are considered classics. France's Marcel Marceau delights the audience wherever he goes. Many American comedians of stage and television have relied strongly on pantomime. Joe E. Brown, Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, and Dave King are among the many mime talents that come to mind.
Clowning is a real art. It requires physical skills, dramatic ability, a firm understanding of human nature, imagination, wit, and a strong sense of the comic. It uses timing, surprise, anticipation, slapstick, and sometimes pathos, as elements in its humor.
Clowns should not try to be silly, for clowning is a dignified art and profession. Clowns should omit anything off-color or offensive. Costumes, words, or actions that are in bad taste, or that ridicule any race or nationality have no place in a good clown skit.
The amateur clown might find it difficult to realize that all action is planned action. Even the professional clown does not leave laughs to chance.
It is sound advice to be seen only when there is something specific to do. Hence all clown skits should be written out in full detail and should be rehearsed until action (and words) are exact. As much practice and rehearsal should go into each clown skit as goes into any other professional act.
Every clown should be aware of the gadgets and props which will enhance his own clown persona. Perhaps it will be a flower on the lapel that squirts water. Maybe it's a small horn to communicate for a clown that uses pantomime. Experiment and you will find what fits your own clown character.
Want to find out more about pantomime?