I’ve been teaching clown workshops around the world since 1998. And I can honestly say that they attract all kinds of people, from all walks of life, for all sorts of different reasons.
Diego, for example, had never experienced any failures in his career, but precisely because of that, the thought of failing brought him out in a cold sweat. He was an entrepreneur who ran a consultancy company in Bogotá, Columbia. He knew his fear was limiting his creativity and came to my workshop in the hope of breaking through the barrier it had set up.
Helena, on the other hand, was a young and enthusiastic scientist who was completing her Master’s degree at Barcelona’s Biomedicine Research Institute. She was passionate about her discoveries but felt like a freak whenever she tried to talk to normal people about them. She came to my clown course wanting to find a new language with which to communicate her passion.
Javier was a very talented actor but had one serious problem: he secretly suffered from OCD (Obsessive-compulsive tidiness disorder). His psychologist had recommended he take my course.
Three very different people with very different problems. But all three believed that the best solution would be to put on a red nose.
And they’re not alone in this belief. Worldwide, thousands of people are choosing to try out this radically different way of overcoming inner and outer obstacles. They’re looking to this ancient art for new ways of being; new ways of perceiving, interpreting and understanding themselves and their lives.
Because, let’s face it, being human is both a joy and a blight. All too often we are faced with life’s hardships and our own imperfections; our faults, our frailty, and our failures. But it’s just not the done thing to show that we feel vulnerable. There’s a huge pressure on us to be strong, intelligent and successful… all the time. Tortell Poltrona, a fellow professional, says: “We don’t become adults, we become adulterated.” And he’s right. Slowly we lose sight of our true self; of how it feels be expressive, playful, idiotic, funny and authentic in public.
Our clowns on the other hand, have miraculously avoided this conditioning. They have no compunctions about sharing how they feel, admitting their own ridiculousness, or applying a healthy sense of humour in the face of all life’s knocks and kicks. I say “our clowns” because, even though this may surprise you, we all have a clown inside of us, just waiting for the opportunity to be given centre stage.
I have been a professional clown for 30 years and a clown teacher for 19 so know this to be true.
I first taught clown in Las Vegas for Cirque du Soleil. My husband was working as a clown in Cirque’s show Mystere. We were asked to help the gymnasts and acrobats with their performance skills. When we moved back to Spain we continued teaching together, developing our own pedagogical system. We both have dedicated our lives to understanding every aspect of clowning; not only the techniques used by clowns to make people laugh (such as timing, honesty, gags, etc.) but also clown philosophy and clown psychology. Truly, the results we have seen are incredible, which is why I wrote the book, The Clown In You, sharing our experiences and findings. Our students experience huge, life-changing shifts over very short periods of time.
Diego, the businessman who felt limited by his fear of failure, wrote to me after his first four day workshop saying: “This has been one of the most enriching life experiences I’ve ever had. I now feel very powerful, able to laugh out loud about my mistakes.” In fact, Diego was so enthused by the effects of clowning that he invited me to train all his company’s staff. He himself now gives talks in which he advocates that all leaders need a red nose.
Helena, the scientist who came to learn comedy and communication skills, trained with me for four months. On completing this training she founded The Big Van Theory with a group of other crazy scientists. She now travels around Spain giving humorous talks about her scientific discoveries. She recently filmed one of these monologues for Ted Talks.
And Javier, the actor who could not abide disorder, found his clown whispering these words of wisdom to him after taking a weekend course with me, “Make the bed? Are you mad? Wouldn’t it be more fun to have a pillow fight with your flatmate?” And that is exactly what he did, and he’s never looked back!
Our clowns, if we let them, will release us from the straight jacket we have unwittingly placed on ourselves. The experience of finding your clown will not leave you unmoved. When clowning you’ll be amazed by the creative, charismatic and comic talent you possess. Diego, Helena and Javier let their clowns show them how to be all that they could be. Don’t underestimate what your clown can do for you. Take a clown course – you’d be a fool not to!