Be Playful

How to be an Everyday Clown

Posted on: 5 May 2008

everyday-clown
Photo by SlapBcn.

Clowns are brilliant. They bring joy and laughter to the world. They’re larger than life, clumsy, confused, very silly, and full of nonsense.

I’ve been reading a lot about clowns and jesters recently, working out how to be a clown in my everyday life. Here’s what I’ve learnt.

Unpredictable Free Spirits

Clowns have a freedom and unpredictability of spirit. They are willing to say, do, and be something different, taking the risk of being ridiculed.

One of the keys to being playful is having a freedom and unpredictability of spirit. In the midst of daily drudge and routine everyday clowns bring sparkles and smiles through a moment of unconscious sillyness or spontaneous dancing.

It’s also true that the world cannot become a better place without people who are willing to do and say things differently, to risk being ridiculed. To stand up against the norms of society is brave and can be dangerous, so getting a few laughs on the way is no bad thing.

Larger than Life

happy-clown
Photo by dct.

Clowns are larger than life; they are disproportionate to the world. This is both in terms of their physical appearance (huge shoes, red noses, crazy hair), and in terms of their emotions and charisma. The happiness and sadness of clowns is both more wonderful and more terrible than happiness and sadness in everyday life.

Maybe wearing a red nose every day isn’t the way you want to go, but think of other things you can do to stand out, make people smile, and get others talking to you. Wear three watches or a kooky scarf, a sparkly brooch or a flower in your hair.

One of my favourite things to do is to wear a cowboy hat when I travel on trains. It’s amazing how many more people talk to me just because I look a bit different, and it definitely makes people smile too.

Clumsy and Confused

Clowns often get confused between what is valuable and worthless, and struggle to tell the difference between truth and folly. In doing this, they embody the confusion and darkness of the unconscious world. This is good for making others think about what is valuable and true. As one academic writer on clowns, William Willeford, puts it:

‘It may be true that our action and knowledge rest on beliefs which we assume to be more adequate than they are.’

A lesson to be learnt from this is the need to embrace complexity. As much as we might love to find a final answer to our problems, a final truth to solve our worries, it can be helpful to realise that the world is rarely as simple as we would like it to be. In knowing this complexity, we are set free from the need to control everything and everyone.

This isn’t an excuse to wallow in our problems and not seek a way out, but it does make us aware that the way out is more likely to be a long and winding road than a hop, skip and a jump.

The confusion of a clown can help to clarify things for ourselves. In the confusion of clowns, we see a dissonance between what is valuable and worthless, and we begin to realise the times that we have listened to the pedlars of broken dreams. We also realise the times that we are truly listening to our real dreams, the inner dreams from the depths of our being.

Full of Common Nonsense

ducks
Photo by Yodel Anecdotal.

Jesters – the clowns in the courts of Kings and Queens – would wear bells on their hats. This was so they could shake their heads if anyone tried to instil some ‘common sense’ into them. The bells would drown out what was being said to them.

There is often a lot of sense in common sense, but equally often there is a lot of nonsense. The next time you hear someone peddling nonsense in the name of common sense, remember the bells on your hat, and give them a shake.

The magic tricks that clowns would perform in the courts of Kings, and on the streets, were designed to contrast with the ‘magic’ of the kings and priests that was accepted as common sense.

Some kind of ‘magic’ today means that the majority of the world is caught in the trap of poverty whilst a small minority feast on riches. Some kind of ‘spell’ makes us think that this is normal.

Magic tricks make us aware that we may be believing illusions, but also offer the possibility of magical moments of change, when hope breaks through in the most desperate of circumstances.

In Summary

  • Clowns are free spirits – a good example to follow.
  • Clowns are wacky and larger than life – another great way to be.
  • Clowns are confused and clumsy. This can help us navigate the confusion and clumsiness in our lives that we’d prefer to ignore.
  • Clowns don’t think much of common sense. They know that being sensible can be a lot of nonsense.
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25 Responses to "How to be an Everyday Clown"

hehe! yeah, we need more random clowns around town!

*inspired*

Darren Daz Cox’s last blog post..Beauty is as beauty does

clowns are scary

@ Darren – I couldn’t agree more – random clowns around town would be fabulous. Thank you 🙂

@ joe – Clowns are creepy sometimes aren’t they? I think that’s part of their appeal – the whole range of emotions that they embody. I know that as a child there were times I was petrified of clowns.

What a wonderful post, David! Very inspiring. I, for one, will be wearing a flower or colourful scarf tomorrow as I embrace clownish ways. Thank you so much, for waking me up to the value of the everyday clown.

amypalko’s last blog post..If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

David –

Clowns teach us how to remain positive by laughing at their own mistakes. Often, we get into despair at our own failures due to ego that drains our goodness and makes us quit when persistence is required.

Great post my friend.

Shilpan

Interesting what you said about the cowboy hat on trains – I got dreadlocks about a year ago and I really felt people reacted more cheerfully to me!

Cheers, Robin

Robin’s last blog post..But I’d get so bored!

Amy,
I hope your flower/scarf wearing went well. I’d love to hear about how you got on.

Shilpan,
Having a sense of humour is so important in life. Seems to be a post in that somewhere…

Robin
Dreadlocks are very cool. I wish I was brave enough to have them!

Hi David,

I love clowns. They make me laugh and whenever they’re on the sidewalk advertising for a business, I always honk.

Thanks for sharing a smile. 🙂

Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Build A Pyramid – Increase Blog Traffic

Barbara,

Glad to make you smile. We don’t get many clowns advertising businesses in the UK – maybe you could make it as a marketing guru here?

[…] you’re going to want to add this blog to your feed reader!  Just check out this great post, How To Be An Everyday Clown: Clowns are brilliant. They bring joy and laughter to the world. They’re larger than life, […]

Love the concept of common nonsense!

Joanna

Joanna Young’s last blog post..What I Learned From The Gifts I Received At SobCon08

Joanna,

Thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment. And do beware of the common nonsense that’s about!

David

I heard that the most successful people, businessmen, politicians, athletes, are usually people who have a very good sense of humor; which means that they really don’t take themselves too seriously thus keeping everything in the right perspective.

David, I’m glad I found your blog. This will be another thing to remind me to keep smiling and laughing.

every day clowns…But George Bush is scary. not funny…

Chris,
I’m glad you found my blog too! I hope beplayful.org lives up to your expectations. And I totally agree with what you said about humour – it’s vital for keeping life in perspective.

Kudzu,
Maybe George Bush could do with a Jester in the White House to give him some common nonsense…

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Hello David,
I love all you say in your post! I couldn’t agree more!! Well researched and discovered!!
I work/play as a clown and I love it! I have been privileged to be able to make people smile, laugh & be happy for over 20 years and expect I will be doing it for 20 more!
I am a bit of an everyday clown as well really, often acting like a clown but forgetting I haven’t got my costume on …. but that’s okay!
When I am Rainbow the clown it’s a version of me with my volume dial of love, fun, sillyness and common nonsense turned way up to full volume!
The world looks ever so much happier when I am a clown…cos everywhere I look people are smiling back at me! It’s nice!!
Try it sometime, just once!!
and remember to Keep Smiling !!

With Love and Nonsense from Margie G & Rainbow the Clown
Adelaide South Australia.

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