Teaching Tips on Clowning
"Clowns are pegs used to hang circuses on."- P.T. Barnum
Do you like making people laugh? Is falling down or getting a pie in the face an appealing prospect to you? Then clowning might be the thing for you!
Clowns seem to be everywhere- at the circus, a parade, or birthday party; but you may have no idea how to become one. Well, no problem. Here we have accumulated many resources to help you on your journey to clownhood.
It might be helpful to define a “clown.” The simplest definition is a performer who makes people laugh. However, if that’s all there was to it, everyone would be a clown! There are many steps involved in becoming a clown.
This guide will help you on your clown path.
Which Clown Type?
First of all, you must decide which type of clown you will be. There are several different options to choose from.
-Classic Whiteface: This is the oldest type of clown, the one people think of most often when they hear the word clown or circus. The whiteface, like the name suggests, uses white makeup to cover his entire face. Makeup is then used to highlight the features of the face. Traditionally, a one piece outfit is worn. The classic whiteface is generally at the top of the clown pecking order. He is considered the “straight man,” or the one who appears to be serious. He often orders the lower clowns to do his bidding and sets up the gag, rather than being the butt of the joke.
One variation is the Grotesque Whiteface or Comedy Whiteface, who uses makeup to exaggerate his facial features to the extreme. The comedy whiteface is a more exaggerated and whacky version than the classic whiteface clown, although he is not as outlandish asthe Auguste clown. Bozo the clown is a famous example of the grotesque whiteface.
-Auguste: The Auguste clown is a zany, physical comedy clown type. He can often be found wearing mismatched and oversized clothing with plenty of bright colors. There is practically no limitation to the costume of the Auguste clown. He may choose polka dots, stripes, bold colors, or any combination that enhances the personality of the clown. Unlike the whiteface, his makeup does not necessarily have the white base of color. Instead he uses a flesh tone base with splashes of color to emphasize the facial features, as well as the bulbous red nose. The Auguste is a prankster who usually has a wide variety of tricks up his sleeve (or in his various pockets). His simplicity gives him a likeable charm. He uses slapstick humor, and is often falling, getting kicked, or receiving a pie in the face. The Auguste is the least intelligent type of clown. He often has difficulty completing simple tasks, yet he can engage in complicated acrobatics. He is usually ordered around by Whiteface clown, and is the brunt of the joke.
-Character Clown: The character clown portrays a specific occupation in an exaggerated and comical way. Some typical occupations include: policeman, fireman, doctor, cowboy, bag lady, or housewife just to name a few. The character clown is a realistic looking clown. Makeup is used to exaggerate facial features or draw attention to the character’s personality.
Some classic character clowns are the Tramp and Hobo characters. These clown types are distinctly American, and are thought to have originated during the Great Depression. The Tramp is typically down on his luck and depressed about his situation. The Hobo, while down on his luck, maintains a positive and optimistic attitude about his lot in life. The Tramp and Hobo share the same makeup and costume. Their makeup usually includes a dark ‘5 o’clock’ shadow, although it is not a requirement. The mouth can be outlined, with the eyebrows and mouth either lifted to look happy (Hobo) or sad (Tramp). They both wear clothing that appears tattered, patched, and dirty. The Tramp and Hobo are the lowest clowns in the pecking order. They are always the brunt of the joke, and may be ordered around by the either the Auguste or Whiteface.
-New Vaudeville: This is a modern type of clown who often does not wear makeup and engages the audience by interacting with them. Two good examples of the New Vaudeville clown are Bill Irwin and David Shiner.
Take a look at this clip of Bill Irwin to see an example of the New Vaudeville style. It’s not the best quality, but Bill Irwin can always make you laugh.
The type of clown you choose to become will be a big factor in how you do your makeup and costume. Remember, a clown’s makeup is as original as a fingerprint. It is an unwritten rule that you must not copy another clown. It’s a good idea to look through pictures of other clowns to get inspiration. Then create your very own look. Clowns can even protect their makeup by sending a picture to Clowns International where their face will be painted on an egg to serve as copyright protection.
When deciding what your clown face should look like, make sure to emphasize your own facial features. The point of clown makeup is to enhance your own features, not cover them up. It’s a good idea to look in the mirror and discover the natural lines and curves of your face. Use your makeup to bring out those lines. You may want to sketch a few different types of faces and makeup designs on paper, and then try out your favorites in the mirror before you decide on your final face.
Here’s a good instructional video on how to put on clown makeup:
How to Apply Clown Makeup
You will need:
Hair covering/shower cap to keep hair out of face and eyes
A few makeup brushes (2-3)
Powder puff/ sock with baby powder inside (use a clean sock, place baby powder inside, tie with a knot)
A tin of clown white grease paint
Grease paint – whichever colors you need for your face (typically red, black, flesh colors, and any other color you want)
Black eyeliner or eyebrow pencil
Optional: Clown nose, fake eyelashes, glitter, etc
Spirit gum to adhere nose, lashes, etc
Baby oil or baby shampoo to remove makeup
Pull your hair back or put your hair covering on. Make sure you wash your face and hands. If you have dry skin, put some moisturizer on first.
Apply your white or tan base first. Take care to cover every inch of your face. After the first layer is on, make sure you remember to “set” your face with the powder puff or sock. Apply the powder liberally. Setting every layer of face paint with powder is a crucial step in applying makeup because it helps keep the colors in place. Forgetting this step leads to the colors running and blending together. This creates a sloppy look you want to avoid.
Start with the lightest color, and work your way to the darker colors. Begin by using your paintbrush, dip it in the grease paint, and outline your features. Then color in your outlines with the brush or cotton swabs. Make sure you set every different colored layer.
Use the eyeliner to outline the colored in areas.
Now you need to remove the excess powder. You can do this by splashing your face with a little water. This is another very important step you don’t want to forget because it keeps your makeup from fading or turning ashy. It also prevents the makeup from coming off when touched.
Lastly, you can apply your nose, lashes, glitter, etc. You may want to do this after you put on your costume.
How to Remove Clown Makeup
Taking off the makeup is another important step. You want to use the baby oil or baby shampoo on your face. Wipe it off with a damp washcloth or paper towel. It will look like a crazy mess at first, but keep at it, and the makeup will come right off. Certain colors (like reds) may stay on your face and be more difficult to remove. Simply put more baby oil or shampoo on your face and allow it to soak in. After awhile it should wipe off. If not, it will fade with time. Don’t rub your face raw trying to remove it!
A Few Makeup Tips
PRACTICE! Applying clown makeup takes a long time, often upwards of half an hour. The more you practice, the quicker the process will go.
Always arrive early so you have ample time to apply your makeup before you go onstage.
Put your makeup on before you do anything else. You don’t want to get grease paint all over your costume. If you must wear your costume, make sure to cover it with a large apron or smock.
Wash your hands thoroughly before and after applying makeup. You don’t want to accidentally get paint on something because you forgot to wash.
ALWAYS set every layer!
Your costume should be just as unique as your makeup. If you are a traditional whiteface clown, perhaps you will choose a time-honored one piece outfit. The Auguste has many more choices, the zanier and brighter the patterns and colors choices the better. The Hobo and Tramp need to sport raggedy clothing with patches and tatters. Despite the downtrodden look of the outfit, make sure your costume is always clean. Whatever your costume choice, make sure the costume emphasizes the personality of your clown.
The first thing your audience sees when you walk out is your costume, so you want it to quickly express your personality without you having to say anything. There are plenty of clown costume patterns to choose from, but it is not necessary to follow one. It’s a good idea to put a lot of thought into your design. Take a trip to a few thrift stores and see what sorts of fun fabrics and patterns you can find. Don’t feel limited to articles of clothing either. Maybe that bedspread has a funky pattern, or those curtains have interesting shapes. You can create your own clothes; just make sure the material is durable. Also, make sure you choose colors and patterns that look good from far away as well as close up. Oftentimes your audience will be viewing you from a distance, so you want to make sure your outfit looks good no matter where you sit. A good way to test this is to have a friend hold up the crazy pattern while you walk to the other end of the store. If you can still the designs clearly from far away it’s a keeper.
You may choose to wear shorts or a skirt, but if you do, make sure to wear tights or long socks to cover up your bare legs. Do not show exposed skin! Several large pockets are always a good idea to have in your costume as they make storing props much easier. This also allows for the popular trick of pulling never ending objects out of your seemingly small pocket. If your costume does not originally have pockets, consider sewing a few. You can even create some fake pockets that open into a bag underneath your costume. This allows you to carry even more props without looking like you’re toting around your entire bag of tricks.
While gloves are not a requirement, many clowns choose to wear them. White is the preferred color for gloves, but anything color-coordinated with your outfit is appropriate. If your costume does include gloves, make sure to carry an extra pair or two in case of emergency. You NEVER want to wear dirty gloves. Hobo or Tramp outfits often cut the fingertips out of their gloves for their downtrodden look. Clowns that make balloon animals or juggle may want to do this as well to make the process easier.
Many clowns choose to wear a wig or hat to complete their outfit. You may use your own hair in a crazy hairstyle, but it is often easier to cover it up completely and start afresh with a wig or hat. This gives your clown more personality and helps separate the clown persona from the real you. Many clowns favor brighter colored wigs, such as reds, oranges, and yellows but that’s not to say that multi-colored, blues, and purples are not widely used as well. Ultimately the choice is yours.
Clown shoes are another important aspect of your outfit. You want to make sure you find a pair that is both comfortable and durable. Clowns are on their feet a lot, so while it might seem like a good idea to buy an ill-fitting pair of shoes because they look good, after a lengthy performance your feet will not thank you for it. There are many options to choose from in clown shoes these days. You can buy large shoes that you can wear over your own shoes, but be careful as this often gets uncomfortable quickly. You can always order custom shoes off the internet that will both fit your feet and still have the oversized clown look. These tend to be a little expensive, but they are comfortable and last for a long time. You can also reuse old shoes you have lying around. Make them look sillier by spray painting them or gluing on patches. An age old trick used by many clowns is to simply buy a pair of high top sneakers; these are both brightly colored and comfortable.
Accessories are another important part of your costume. A tie or bowtie adds an extra splash of color to your outfit, while also adding to the comic effect. As ties are usually reserved for sophisticated people, a tie is an especially ironic touch. The more ridiculously patterned the tie, the better. Other accessories such as glasses, suspenders, gigantic watches, or other oversized item also add some comedy to the costume.
What kind of a clown would you be without the iconic red clown nose? Choosing which type of nose you will use is crucial If you are a Whiteface clown you may choose not to wear a red nose. For the rest of the clowns out there, there are several ways to go in the nose category. You can buy noses online, at a costume store, or quite easily make your own. You can make or buy a nose out of many different materials, typically foam, rubber, or leather. There are advantages and disadvantages to each substance. Foam noses are light and cheap, but they are not really long-lasting. Rubber noses are also inexpensive, but they can be sweaty and make breathing difficult. Leather noses are specifically made for your face, and they last for quite awhile, but they are more expensive. The nose may be worn with an attached string, or simply held in place with putty. Many lightweight balls can be cut up and painted to become a clown nose. Some clowns use a nose made entirely of putty, and some simply paint a red nose on their face. Decide which type works best for you.
Who Are You?
We’ve talked a lot about your clown personality, especially making sure your makeup, costume, and clown type all coincide with it. But who is your clown? Now it’s time to decide. By now you’ve figured out which type of clown you want to be. This should give you some clue as to how your clown character will act. But you don’t need to feel limited to the clown categories. Feel free to mix and match. There are no concrete rules in clowning.
You need to develop your own identity as a clown. Who are you? Think of some identity traits you personally have that you want to highlight. Make a list and play around with each quality. For example, maybe you have a stutter. You can turn that into something hilarious in an act with some skillful exaggeration.
A good place to start is by writing a biography for your clown. Try writing anything from a few paragraphs to a couple of pages. No one will be reading your clown notes, so go crazy. Make up anything you like for your clown’s past. The more outrageous the better! Just write whatever comes into your head. Here are a few questions to you started, but feel free to make up any others you like.
• Where were you born?
• Do you have clown parents, or did you run away to join the clowns?
• What made you want to be a clown?
• What activities does your clown enjoy?
• What are some of your favorite foods?
• What are your favorite books and television shows? (They don’t have to be real.)
• Do you have any special powers? If so, how did you acquire them?
The more you know about your clown’s personality, the easier it will be to think up jokes and acts that suit you. Making a biography will help cement your character in your head, and help you make decisions the way your clown would.
"A Clown cannot pretend or be artificial.
In the circus, laughter cannot be faked any more than a somersault."
~ Jerome Medrano of Cirque Medrano, Paris.
Now it’s time to get some of the lingo down. You may hear other clowns talking about a clown “gag.” First of all no, it’s not a clown choking on something. A gag is a short clown routine. If it is repeated throughout the performance it is known as “running gag.” A gag can be performed by one or more clowns. It can either be performed on stage, or in the audience. Have you ever been to a show where clowns walk around the audience before a performance begins? They might dust someone off with a feather duster or steal a person’s glasses and try to see with them. These are both gags.
A “skit” is a short performance with a beginning, middle, and end. The audience needs to pay attention to the entire skit to understand, unlike a gag where you might not have to see the whole thing. Because of this skits are better suited for the stage rather than at a parade or mall where people are coming and going.
If you are looking for some skits to perform there are countless books you can find that have plenty of skits all broken down to help you. Just check out your local library, or you could try finding some online. Never underestimate the power of a classic bit of clown comedy either.
Of course, many clowns choose to write their own skits, and you can too! Some things you need to keep in mind when writing a skit are:
• Who is your audience? You wouldn’t write the same type of skit for a group of kindergarteners are you would for seventh graders. Make sure the skit is age appropriate and everyone will understand the jokes.
• How are you presenting? Are you going to use pantomime? Do you need props? Writing a skit without words is very different than one using words.
• What? Now you have to choose a topic. It can be anything you want! Figuring out your topic might be the hardest part. Humor comes from all sorts of different places; you can take things from everyday situations or go wild and make up crazy scenarios. You might want to make a list of everything things that make you laugh. That way when it’s time to write a skit you’ll already have a bunch of ideas all ready for you.
Getting the Audience Involved
As a clown, one of the most important parts of your act is the audience. You always want the audience to be paying attention to you. You can tell the audience is engaged by laughter, smiles, applause, or even groans at bad jokes. One of the worst sounds to perform to is absolute silence. Luckily if this ever happens to you, clowns have liberties that other performers do not have. If no one is clapping you can always beg for it in a silly way, you are a clown afterall.
If your audience is not paying attention one of the simplest ways to bring them back is by talking to them. You can always ask them to do something that will make them participate.
One of the best ways to tell if your audience likes what you’re doing is by applause! An easy way to get the kind of applause you deserve is by just teaching the audience how to clap for you. Teach them a few different rounds of applause. Demonstrate the different types for the audience. A good one to start out with is applause where they clap and slap their knees with their hands. Label this round of applause as the “knee slapper” and ask for it at different times during the act. Be silly with your different applauds. For example, tell the audience to cheer as if they were cows. You’ll be greeted with the sound of mooing filling the auditorium. Get creative and make up several different applauds. Then you can mix it up and ask for different types at different times. You can even try to trip up the audience with Simon Says type games.
Another thing you can try is making different cheering sections. Split the audience in two sections and have them cheer for you one at a time. Start by telling one side to cheer and tell them their response is pitiful – you can hardly hear them at all. Move to the other side and have them try to beat the first side. Repeat this a few times. The response will get louder and louder. Kids get really involved with this, but it works with any age audience.
Another way to get audience participation is by choosing some assistant clowns. Kids love being a part of the action. Because of this, you need to be careful when choosing an assistant. If you ask for people to raise their hands, every hand will shoot up. This can cause hurt feeling for kids when you don’t pick them. Instead think of some creative ways to pick audience members. Maybe start describing certain characteristics you’re looking for in an assistant. Pick someone in the audience and describe them in detail. For example, I’m looking for a girl with brown hair, green eyes, and her hair in a ponytail. She’s wearing a purple shirt. Once she realizes it’s her, invite her up to the stage. Or you could even go down into the audience and try and pick the perfect assistant. Take some people aside saying things like “No, not this one,” and “Closer, but still not right,” until you find the perfect assistant.
Once you find your assistant, what should you do with them? Well, first you can start off by having them introduce themselves. Ask them questions like what’s your name? Do you have any brother and sisters? Then add some silly questions like “Are you married?”
If you found some good natured volunteers you can play around with them and tease them a little. Make sure you try and feel out your volunteers though, because some people can be quite sensitive and you don’t want to hurt any feelings. Plus that’s not fun for anyone.
Here's a really funny video with a volunteer from the audience:
If you choose more than one volunteer, try to pick a boy and a girl. Not only does this make things fair, but it can lead to a really funny gag where you call the assistants by the wrong name each time. Your volunteers will keep trying to correct you and the audience will crack up.
One of the most important aspects of being a clown is exaggerating all your movements. Clowns are cartoon characters come to life, so you want everything you do to be really BIG. The larger the venue you are performing in, the bigger you want to make all your movements. You don’t want your act to get lost because the audience can’t see! Start practicing exaggerating all your movements, both your expressions and your physical reactions. It might be difficult at first, but the more you do it the easier it will be. Make sure you use your face to give larger than life reactions. Big responses are some of the funniest parts of clown routines.
One very important skill for a new clown to learn is pantomime, the art of performing skits without using props or words. Of course, there is no rule that says clowns cannot talk, but some of the funniest parts of clowning come from using your whole body to express yourself. It’s a good idea to get used to getting your point across without using words. Sometimes pantomime is even necessary if you are performing in a larger space and not everyone will be able to hear you.
To see a great example of pantomime take a look at this video of David Shiner. It’s a little long, but worth it because it’s really funny. Even if you don’t watch the whole thing, you’ll get the point. He creates an entire story with no words at all.
Pantomime creates an illusion for the audience. If you run into an imaginary wall, the audience must see that the wall is there. First, you must make the wall visible to yourself. If you believe the wall is there, and you act as if it is, the audience will believe it too. A good pantomime creates an imaginary world that the audience can “see.”
Take a look at this instructional video on how to mime the wall:
One of the most important parts of pantomime is slowing down your motions so the audience can see and understand what you are doing. Lots of thought and practice needs to go into your movements. If you open an imaginary door too fast, the audience will not understand what you just did. They need time to first see what you are doing, and then translate it into your action. If your motions are too fast, there is no time for the audience’s brain to process what you are doing. Going too fast is a common mistake at first. Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself to make sure your movements look real. Try and see it from another person’s point of view to see if it actually looks believable. Remember, exaggeration is the key to a good pantomime!
Make sure you put in facial reactions to whatever you are doing. This makes your imaginary world seem more believable. If you are pretending to read a book, don’t forget to chuckle at something funny or appear upset if there’s a surprise. Little touches such as crossing your legs while reading make the action seem more believable because people often do that when reading. Pantomime should look easy, but you’ll discover it is actually difficult at first. The more time and energy you put into developing your pantomime, the easier it will become. And it will all be worth it when you see the looks on the audiences’ faces.
Here’s another funny video using pantomime. Pay attention to how they exaggerate their movements and facial expressions. Notice how at some points when their actions become a little fast it’s difficult to understand what is happening. But when their movements are clear, you understand the entire story without needing words.
If you have a chance to take a mime class, don’t pass up the opportunity. It can really help to have outside help and opinions.
Practice for Pantomime
One of the most important parts of pantomime is your facial expressions. Practice exaggerated faces in front of a mirror. Especially practice faces for happy, sad, scared, angry, and surprised. Repeat them over and over in the mirror. First go in order, but then change up the routine. Make sure your expression is completely different and recognizable for each face.
Try practicing pantomiming different movements. Here are a few to try, but make up some of your own:
• Running away from someone
• Eating a sandwich
• Brushing your teeth
• Tying your shoe
• Smelling something gross
• Being hungry
• Climbing a ladder
• Finding a penny
• Taking a picture
• Seeing something far away
• Catching a firefly
• Open a door
• Blowing bubbles
• Playing golf
• Hammering a nail
• Spilling a drink
• Sweeping the floor
• Waiting for someone
• Hula hooping
A classic part of many clown acts is slapstick humor, or humor that involves absurd situations and physical comedy. A pie in the face or one clown tripping another clown are both great examples of slapstick. You don’t have to include slapstick comedy in your act; you can decide whether you want to use it or not. Indeed, slapstick has been looked down upon throughout the ages as a “lower” form of humor, but when used in the correct way it can definitely bring the audience to their knees. If you are going to be a silly Auguste clown, you may want to include some slapstick in your act.
Slapstick must be used in way that makes sense in order to be appreciated. Falling for no reason will not make anyone laugh. But when the fall comes for a reason - because the boss clown is trying to retaliate - it can be hilarious. Timing is a very important aspect of slapstick because you want to establish cause and effect. For example, if one clown falls before the first clown trips him the fall makes no sense.
If you use slapstick in your routine, you’re going to want to learn how to do some basic tumbling.
First, start with a forward roll. You begin by squatting with your hands spread shoulder width apart on the floor. Then tuck your head so your chin touches your chest and roll forward. You should end up (once you get good at this) in a squatting position again.
The backwards roll begins in the same squatting position. This time you roll backwards over your shoulder and end back up in the squatting position. Make sure to keep your chin tucked!
After you’ve mastered the forward and backward rolls, you can try standing rolls. The standing forward roll is exactly the same as the one on the floor, except you begin in a standing position. The standing backward roll is the backward roll from a standing position. Always start slowly and use a mat for new tumbling moves. It’s also always a good idea to have an experienced spotter when you’re trying tumbling moves for the first time. Be careful!
Now that you’ve learned a few rolls that you can add to your physical comedy routine, it’s time to learn how to fall.
Start with a forward fall. Begin in a standing position and simply fall forward. Make sure you catch yourself with your hands. You should end up in the push-up position. Do this slowly. Make sure you lower yourself to the floor, have your hands catch you and support your weight. Your legs should be straight. Don’t forget to turn your head to the side. When you do this quickly, it looks like you are falling. Falling on purpose can seem pretty scary, but the key is to practice slowly on a mat. Build up to a faster time, and pretty soon you will be falling with style.
Of course you can’t fall without a reason, so the next step is to learn the trip. The easiest way is to trip yourself. Catch one leg behind the other while you’re walking. It will seem as if you tripped on something. To make it look more believable, snap your head back and thrust your chest forward at the same time.
Juggling is a classic part of many clown acts. If you do not know how to juggle, here is a how to guide to get you started.
Materials- You’re going to need a few things first in order to juggle.
• 3 Juggling Balls- Although any three round objects will do, specifically made juggling balls are easier to handle, and much more enjoyable to work with.
• A space to juggle- Chances are, at first anyways, that you will be dropping the balls quite a bit. Give yourself enough space when practicing so no important family items are hit or knocked over. They could potentially break!
• The desire to learn- Juggling is plenty of fun and very entertaining. Practice makes perfect, so keep practicing! You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Instructions- Let’s get this started!
• Step 1- The one ball exchange
o Imagine that you are holding a box in your hands. This box is about at eye level, and you are holding it with your palms facing upwards. You will be throwing the juggling balls to the opposite corners of the box for each throw.
o Take one of your juggling balls in your strong hand. With a scooping motion, throw the ball from your strong hand, to the opposite top corner of the box, to your weak hand. Make an arc with the throw a few inches above your head, or at eye level, whatever is more comfortable.
o Throw back and forth between your two hands. Each throw should be an underhand throw, and the throw should cross your body.
• Step 2-The two ball exchange
o This step is a little bit more difficult. The general consensus is that a 3 ball juggling pattern goes in a circular motion. This is not the case. In fact, juggling follows a cascade pattern instead.
Do not follow this pattern! Follow this pattern instead!
o In this step, take two juggling balls, and place one in each hand. Instead of throwing the balls in a circular pattern, throw one ball under the other one.
o Throw the ball in your strong hand (Ball 1). When Ball 1 reaches its peak and begins falling to your weak hand, throw the ball in your weak hand (Ball 2) under Ball 1. Essentially you are making a switch. Ball 1 in your strong hand goes to your weak hand, and Ball 2 in your weak hand goes to your strong hand.
o Practice this pattern a lot. Have it down solid before continuing. Practice throwing with your strong hand first, then weak hand, and also weak hand first, then strong hand. Stop after you have thrown both balls.
o The pattern should be strong hand throw, weak hand throw, stop. Weak hand throw, strong hand throw, stop.
o Focus on keeping your throws consistent (about at eye level, or a bit higher) with each throw and keep relaxed. Juggling is fun!
• Step 3- The three ball exchange
o This is the hardest part of the pattern, but once you can do this, you can juggle!
o Take two balls in your strong hand, and one in your weak hand.
o You are going to be throwing with your strong hand first.
o The pattern for this goes as follows:
1. Strong hand
2. Weak hand
3. Strong hand
o You will be alternating throws with each hand.
o Keep all throws underhand, and throw each ball underneath the last ball you threw.
o Only throw three balls at first. Just focus on throwing for the first three times, and catching. At the end of this cycle, you should end up having two balls in your weak hand, and one in your strong hand.
o The next step is to try to continue the pattern for as long as you can. Keep alternating between strong and weak hands, back and forth, back and forth.
Some key points to focus on:
• Juggling is very relaxed. Lean back a little bit, bend at the knees slightly, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
• It is helpful to practice over a bed, that way if you drop, you don’t have to bend over as far to pick them up!
• Stick with it! Anyone can learn how to juggle! It just takes practice!
To see this juggling guide complete with more pictures, click here
For more information on juggling check out our juggling page.
Another classic clown routine that’s good to have up your clown sleeve is making balloon animals. This is a great skill to have, especially if you perform for children. Making balloon animals is a great way to draw an audience, and its fun for everyone to watch.
Before you begin you will need to buy balloons. You can’t just use any old balloon though; you have to purchase specialty twistable balloons. The balloon size you want to get is called 260s. You can usually buy these at party stores. If you want to get the professional brands they are Qualatex and Betallic. Because these are professional quality they pop less, but you do have to order them from a professional source. You will also need a hand pump to blow the balloons up. It’s difficult to blow these balloons up with your mouth, and you will run out of breath really quickly. Using a pump will make the process faster and safer.
You are definitely going to pop a few balloons in the beginning, but you’re still going to pop some later on when you’re better at twisting. Don’t worry about it. The more you practice, the less it will happen. If you break a balloon during a performance, just make a joke about it – you are a clown after all! Just make sure you pick up any broken pieces so kids don’t get to them.
A few tips to keep in mind:
• Buy quality balloons.
• Don’t inflate balloons too fast.
• Stay away from sharp objects.
• Keep your balloons in a cool, dry place. Don’t leave them out in the sun.
• Make sure your fingernails are trimmed so you don’t snag them on the balloon.
• Leave plenty of room for air in the balloon (allow for twists)
First you need to start out with some basic twists to get the hang of making balloon animals. Here are some videos with a few tips on how to twist balloons:
Now you can move onto making some animals. The easiest balloon animal to start with is the dog. Here is a step by step video of how to make your first:
There are so many different balloon animals you can make. Don’t forget, if you ever want some new ones to try you can always use youtube.com; type in whatever you are looking for to find step by step videos like the ones above. In the meantime, here are a few sources where you can find lots of different balloon animals to try:
How to Face Paint:
5 Things You Must Know Before Getting Started
By Philadelphia Tivoli
This article courtesy of http://www.FacePaintingTips.com
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Face Painting is becoming a popular talent with clowns who volunteer (or are hired) for events where there are a lot of children. But don't limit yourself - adults love it, too!
Learning how to face paint can be easy and lots of fun once you know how. It’s a great way to have fun with the kids especially at birthday parties and special occasions.
By learning how to face paint you can save yourself a fortune by not having to hire a face painter, but you’re probably too busy to go out and take a face painting class right? You’d rather learn how to face paint from home and that’s exactly why I wrote this article and The Comprehensive Guide to Face Painting”
Here are 5 things that you need to know about learning how to face paint:
1. Face Paints: You’ll of course have to buy face paints, but what kind of paint do you buy? You should only buy/use face paint that’s specially made for the face and body. The most important thing to look out for when buying face paint is whether or not they comply with various authorities in your country (e.g. U.S. FDA.) within the guidelines for use on the skin. Water based face paint is the most popular and easiest to wash off – It’s used by people just starting to learn how to face paint and by professional face painters.
2. Paint Colors: Start out with getting a palette that has black, white and the primary colors – red, blue and yellow. With these colors you can mix what ever color you need and this will you give you great practice if you have just started learning how to face paint. Then once you’ve started painting quite often you’ll start to notice that you’ll need certain colors more so than others. And you can buy these specific colors in addition to black, white, red, blue and yellow, e.g., you might find that green is a popular color so instead of constantly mixing blue and yellow together to make green you might want to buy a palette of green paint.
3. Brushes: When I learnt how to face paint I used a thin brush for detail, a couple medium sized brushes and a large brush for larger areas. This combination of brushes worked really well for me and I recommend it to you.
4. Hygiene: Hygiene is extremely important in face painting and something you must be aware of when learning how to face paint. Never paint someone who has: any open cuts or sores on their face, a cold sore or conjunctivitis or any other known infectious skin condition, a food allergy or allergic reactions to soaps, skin creams, etc without a prior skin test.
5. Get Designs : Coming up with your own designs can be difficult and coming up with popular designs that kids will definitely love is even harder that’s why I created The Comprehensive Guide to Face Painting” (Downloadable PDF) it has 50 popular step-by-step photo designs and much more need to know information about learning how to face paint. It will fast track you as a painter!
About The Author
Copyright 2006 Philadelphia Tivoli. Philadelphia teaches people how to face paint with her popular ebook “The Comprehensive Guide to Face Painting” – it has 50 fantastic step-by-step photo designs and all the information you need to know about learning how to face paint.
A few tips if you are going to be painting faces:
• Use the internet to find some cool designs.
• Make sure you practice your designs before painting them at an event.
• Bring a sheet with the designs you can paint. This way, children already know what you can do. Then you won’t have to listen to complaints or have to attempt painting something that might look bad.
• Make sure to tell kids not to touch their faces for ten minutes afterward.
Not every clown uses magic in their acts, but many do and it’s always a crowd pleaser. If you would like to incorporate some magic in your act – go ahead! You can get a lot of gag magic tricks at magic and joke shops. You may also want to get a book with some simple magic tricks in them. Even if you want to be a clown who always messes up his magic tricks you need to know how to do the tricks correctly in the first place! There are many professional magicians out there who work very hard to be good illusionists; it is disrespectful to them if you do not know what you are doing. Make sure you know how to perform the correct way before you display your “rotten” magic.
Here’s a pretty funny video of a clown magic act:
Now that you’ve got some skills down, you can start thinking about what sorts of acts you want to put together. Props are a big part of most clown acts. It’s hard to say exactly what props you should use; it really depends on what sorts of acts you want to do. You can turn pretty much anything into a prop as long as you make your reactions funny
Most of your props should be small enough to fit into your pockets without being seen so you can pull them out unexpectedly. You don’t want them to be too heavy either, or they’ll weigh you down during your act. That’s not to say you can’t have larger props, you can always stash those away somewhere backstage or a predetermined spot onstage. Just make sure all large props are easily transportable so you can get them from place to place easily. Props can be either homemade or bought, just use your imagination.
A few classic props you can start with:
• Rubber chicken
• Beach ball
• Squirting flower
• Anything comically oversized
Just about anything can be used as a prop so always keep your eyes open for objects that look funny or that fit with your clown image. Garage sales and thrift stores are great places to pick up a few odd items to use in your acts.
Here are a few additional videos for you to watch to get some ideas of all the different things you can do with clowning.
Here is a clip of Paul Miller. The clip shows many traditional solo clown gags.
Here is a great duo act from Japan. It shows many new takes on old gags.
This clip shows a clown juggling scarves in a funny way:
This is a clip of some classic European style clowning.
Jessica N Lipscomb 2011