It’s All Fun and Games Until You’re Caught Clowning Around
Did I ever tell you about my time spent clowning around? Who am I kidding? Of course, I haven’t. I keep that story close to the vest. My multicoured pokadot vest.
For posterity’s sake, I wasn’t a clown. I was a clownicer. Patent pending.
What’s a clownicer, you might ask? A clown and a character smooshed together.
Why clownicer, you may be asking as a follow-up question.
Because I am a very perceptive person.
I noticed early in my clowning days that many people were quite frightened of clowns. I still don’t understand this, but I suppose it may have something to do with Stephen King’s horror novel, It. Thanks, Steve, you made my job a lot more difficult in the early 2000s.
Eventually, I started calling myself a clownicer, hoping that those with Coulrophobia would be less frightened by me. Except if you direct your gaze to the photo below, that theory goes right out the window.
So. How did I get into clowning? It’s not a very interesting story, so I will break it down in a way that may be more relatable to those who weren’t me growing up.
Basically, I was a miscreant.
I ran away from home at the ripe age of 16 years old and shacked up with a houseful of other miscreants, and we lived a happy miscreant life together for a few years. Drinking daily and smoking joints for breakfast, I admit, wasn’t the best way to pursue a successful run into adult life, but my biggest failure was dropping out of high school.
One day I just woke up in my basement; my walls were nothing, but sheets hung from the ceiling to separate my room from the other four teens who were shacking up down there, and thought, huh, I think I’ve had enough with school for one lifetime.
Not wise. I know.
But how does all of this lead to clowning? I hear you screaming into your screens right now.
I’m getting there, thank you very much.
It was pretty simple. After a few months of lazing about doing absolutely nothing with my life, I realized that if I ever wanted to be the rich and famous something (hadn’t figured that part out yet) I had always dreamed of being, I’d need some sort of direction.
I discovered this brainwave when I was writing in my diary and could not spell the word guitar for the life of me. Why can’t I spell guitar? Is there an “i” in there somewhere?
I needed school, and I needed it bad.
But I couldn’t go back to high school. Due to my outrageous personality and dramatic nature, I was bullied frequently in that hell hole of a learning academy.
I know, so many kids are bullied, and they manage to get through it. Well, I’m not made of tough stuff, so I had to put my foot down and find a better way.
And as though the heavens were shining down on me, I happened upon a flyer pinned to one of the local community boards in our town.
It was called The Program.
It wasn’t called The Program, but I can’t remember its actual name because we always just called it The Program.
It was an alternative learning plan for wayward teens who no longer were in school. It provided a place to go every weekday and roadmap one’s life. We learned basic life skills like building a resume and what this GED thing was all about. WHAT?! I can get my diploma without actually going to school?
Fuckin eh rights, dude!
The best part about the program was that we got paid to go there. It was like three bucks an hour or something, but they paid us, so I signed up immediately.
I made some excellent friends at The Program. I won’t name them here because, in our small town, the program was a bit of a taboo place. It was basically advertising that we were high school dropouts and generally no-good kids. That’s probably why we all fit together so well.
One girl wasn’t a dropout. I’ll call her Becky. She had graduated the year before and was the most intelligent and put-together of the group. Becky was going places.
To be honest, I don’t know why Becky was even there.
Here the rest of us were runaways or coming from terrible homes. We smoked doobs in the parking lot in the morning before classes started and constantly razzed the teachers to let us out for another cigarette break. Not Becky though, she was always nearby, just lurking and listening.
God, now that I think about it…was she a friggen narc, man? Oh my gosh, she probably was! That’s why she was always so concerned about what we were doing!
Wow, that was a real revelation I just had there-groovy.
Anyways one of the teachers we had at the program was the founder of a not-for-profit organization that helped fund extracurricular activities for low-income children.
Mainly though, if you got rid of the bells and whistles, it was a straight-up clown school.
I’m not saying that rudely because that’s just what we did there. We, the facilitators, went through rigorous clown training. There are many rules when becoming a mythical creature of which, yes, clowns are considered.
- NO DRINKING while in character
- NO EATING while in character
- NO SWEARING while in character
- MAINTAIN CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES while in character
- NO PICKING FIGHTS while in character
- NO PICKING WEDGIES while in character
Well, you get the point. Once you had built your clown, or clownicer in my case, and were at an event, you had to stay in character. By breaking the magic in any way, you risked allowing the normies to find out that you weren’t actually that character, but just some random weirdo dressed up as a clown!
Here enters Lola Cunningham the Third.
I taught many a child how to craft a balloon animal while moonlighting as Lola.
During the uneventful weekdays, our clowning troupe would give slapdash lessons to kids who wanted to learn the art of clowning. Teaching all those tiny humans how to be silly is one of my favourite accomplishments to date.
However, where the real experiences in clowning came from was when we were hired to entertain patrons at local rodeos and farmer’s markets.
There we’d be our crazy hilarious selves in the craft tent at the rodeo and entertaining (but mostly scaring) the craft-tent customers. We were hired to rile up the people walking the grounds and get them excited about the day’s events.
We’d set up a table during farmer’s markets and try to lure more small children into our clowning culture. Okay, that sounded a little culty, but I swear we were on the up and up.
On one such occasion at an indoor farmer’s market, I had been burning the midday oil.
**Please remember I was a wayward teen and not use to doing work of any kind. Oh, how tired I was, having worked for three hours straight without a break. Don’t clownicers have worker’s rights too?!
I decided I was going to sneak out behind the building for a smoke. Becky, (yes, she’s still in this story for some unbeknownst reason) gave me a grave look and said, “I hope you’re not about to break character, Lola,” in her shitty southern accent, that wasn’t even nearly as well researched as my equally terrible British accent.
SIDE NOTE: Look, I know it’s not cool to mimic people’s accents. I realize that now. But we were teenagers, and this was like 2001.
“Oh, bollocks,” I said to Becky, not understanding what that meant but figuring it sounded right.
I slunk around the back of the building and lit that sweet, sweet ciggy as soon as I was out of sight from the market patrons.
Then I heard, “Oh man, dude, I think we took too much. You fucking seeing this?”
I looked up and saw two, er, how should I say this-two men of…bedraggled nature. Yes, let’s call it bedraggledness. They must have been in their mid-40s, and their clothes looked as though they might have stood erect and body-like even without the presence of a body within them.
One was holding a teeny tiny baggie in his hand that had a smiley face on it.
Cards on the table: I don’t know if it had a smiley face on it; I’m just trying to paint a picture here.
I stared at the men long and hard, wondering what to do in this strange situation I had gotten myself into. They, in turn, stared at me and intermittently looked at one another. Even though I was smoking, I didn’t want to break character more than I already had.
We kept up this silent staring contest until I was done with my smoke, and as I turned to leave, I said in my terrible British accent, “Cheerio boys, hope you have a lovely trip!”
This is one of my last memories being Lola Cunningham the Third. I loved her dearly, but eventually, as is with all life stories, we move on to bigger and better things.
However, I will never forget my fond memories of clowning around as a wayward teenager.
Lindsay Brown is a writer who deeply regrets placing this photographic evidence of her clowning days on the internet. You can find more of her work HERE.
Originally published at https://vocal.media.