Monday, February 22, 2010


A schmaltzy jazz guitarist playing in a local restaurant on Thursday night doesn't detract from Django Reinhart.

The inept drunk singing karaoke in the hotel bar doesn't change how you feel about the Rolling Stones.

Your brother's video of his kids at Christmas doesn't make Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless any less of a film.

Your grandmother's paint-by-numbers lovingly framed in her back room doesn't diminish Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters or Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat.

So why is it that when people see this... means that all clowns are amateurish and incompetent?


Billy The Clown said...

Because they don't see the good ones often enough..

I hate to say "most" of the clowns in this area are "amateurish and incompetent"

Pat Cashin said...

It's often quoted that 90% of any disciple are filled with the amateurish and incompetent, be it art, music, acting, dance... we understand that there are well intentioned amateurs, part-time pros and those professionals who lead the pack and drive the artform.

I'm not understanding why that isn't more clearly understood by the general public. Why is it that the blanket understanding is "clowns suck"?

Ajina said...

I think it's because unlike all those other artforms, an overwhelming majority of the population ( in America ) never sees good clowns.

The Rolling Stones are very visible.

George Carl is not.

Pat Cashin said...

OK, so if the problem is visibility, the question becomes how do we increase visibility of more accomplished clowning?

Anonymous said...

Nobody sits back and thinks that if they only *tried*, they could really be Django Reinhart, Mick Jagger, or Van Gogh. It's way too obvious how many hundreds of hours they put into their craft.

But when clowning is done well, it looks EASY. So everyone thinks they could do it too - and that's how we get crappy clowns.

It's a lot like improv comedy. People don't realize it takes years of training, and constant rehearsals with a group, to become really good at it. But most people deep down believe that if they just waltzed on stage, they'd be awesome at the hilarious make-'em-ups too.

Anonymous said...

What you are not up on, you are probably down on.

Anonymous said...

This may sound meanspirited... but the guy in the picture doesn't know what he doesn't know. By his appearance alone, he seems to the low-caliber type of clown that would think it funny and appropriate to squirt water into an audience member's face.
No comparison should be made to those who take the art seriously, except at a parade where we are both considered clowns...where he waves his gloved hand, and squirts a water pistol, and threws a couple of pieces of wrapped tootsie-rolls to the kids (he probably refers to them as kiddies), or honks a Harpo horn while he zips around in his size 17white Nike tennis shoes on a chrome- plated razor scooter... the only noise comes from this little clown as he attempts to barter a laugh from the disinterested crowd -
while I trot down the parade route, being the brunt of the joke...interacting with the crowd seemingly without a script or a clue...gaining more laughter at each stop, seeing people nudge each other before I come into full view, people are pointing and laughing...and saying "Did you see that?" and "You got that right!" Actually, when you earn this level of response from a crowd - they know the deal ...there's no comparison.
But I still cringe a little also.
Keith "Bobalouie" Karas

Anonymous said...

All of the above. I think another thing to consider is that clowns have to present themselves, in varying degrees, as clumsy, simple minded perhaps, destructive and in general at odds with the world they inhabit. There are many examples of this found in film stage and circus clowns.
That being said, there are exceptions to the rule as well but in general that is the persona most beloved physical comedians of the past and present use to present their craft.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that as a clown one isn't after respect, he's after laughter... often at the cost of some dignity.

Billy The Clown said...

Also, we need to keep in mind

To the general public
The Rolling Stones are a rock group

George Carl is a Comic (Not a clown)

The general public does not classify anyone without make up as a clown.

Anonymous said...

This gent is clearly dedicated to his craft. What pains he must have taken to match his teeth to his trim. Subtle attention to detail. How clever.