Professional clowns will congregate at the International Clown Fest in town soon, say that clowning is a serious art form.
For these guys, making somebody laugh is serious business. And while you may have simplified clowns by defining them as ‘jokers’, this is the time to do a double check. Watch another side to clowns at the second edition of the International Clown Festival India, to be held in Mumbai end of this month. The fest will feature stage shows, pantomime, jugglers, magicians, puppets, stilt walkers, balloon sculptors, face painting, parades and educational workshops.
Martin D’Souza aka Flubber, a professional clown and an MBA, received an encouraging feedback when he brought the fest to India last year. But he rues that the government and sponsors are yet to show support. “I realised that we need to package clowning well. A clown has to interact with people and that’s not easy,” says Martin. There will be a show with street children in support for Childline, an NGO. “This festival is dedicated to the children who have no families. The theme is family reunion. We will be releasing our music CD on this occasion,” he says.
Ron Johnson aka Toto, who’s coming to the fest from the US, fell in love with stage clowning at 10. “Many simply see clowns as folks who dress silly and do silly things. I let folks know that I’m very serious about being silly. We clowns are just as dedicated to our art as are ballerinas or opera singers or any other ‘respected’ performing arts.” Toto, who has taught at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus’ Clown College.
Toto is excited to meet his student Joe Vecciarelli at the fest, who’s currently working with the Cirque du Monde program in Florida, for at risk youth developed by Cirque du Soleil. Says Joe, “Clowns do, sometimes, play the part of a ‘joker’ when entertaining. Think of a clown like a cartoon and watch with the knowledge that he is someone who is going to do funny, magical and amazing things.”
Another professional, Gregory Parks, insists, “Clowning means inspiring laughter and sometimes thought. Clowning adapts to the environment in which it’s being performed. One doesn’t just put on a nose and makeup and a costume.” Martin agrees and puts it best: “We don’t just make people laugh, we make them happy.”