Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Clown College Chronicles Part 7

There aren't that many teachers out there that are willing to present their own work in front of their students but our fearless and talented Clown College faculty and staff did. I wish I had had photos and I'm pretty sure someone took some as well shot video of it. That evening we saw a wide variety of performance styles in mime and clowning.

Up until that moment most of my exposure to the world of physical comedy came from watching the films of the silent and sound film comedy stars of the past and present. In terms of live performances I'd seen circus clowns and on a rare occasion seen a touring mime troupe like the Theatre Beyond Words. But now, in a single evening, I got to see Steve Smith as create a whole world in pantomime as T.J. Tatters. Greg DeSanto and Jay Stewart played wonderfully destructive plumbers, Jeff Jenkins was a frenetic slap and fall fly killer, Alexander Jeromski mimed a ride on a crowded, bumpy train, Karen Hoyer performed a headless mime character, etc.

I enjoyed all the acts that night and I also learned something very important: comedy comes in many forms and it's up to you to choose the one that suits you. If it doesn't exist then make it up! If anybody out there has any footage of the 1993 Faculty/Staff performance put it on youtube if you don't mind.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Clown College Chronicles Part 6

Our sweet and always cheerful Hope: den mother to the clowns of the class of 1993.

Above is a note written by Hope to remind me of a doctor's appointment I needed to keep. Hope was our den mother and Clown College wouldn't have been the same without her. The reason for seeing a doctor was for another injury( a gash over my right eyebrow) I'd suffered for being distracted at the wrong time and as we all know, in comedy timing is everything. But that all came with the territory.

The schedule was rigorous and the classes challenging. The acrobatic class was always tough but I loved the mini trampoline, the Russian swing and the Russian bar. We had a go at the cloud swing and trapeze too. It all gave me a greater appreciation for the dedicated individuals who make the circus their life.

Their were plenty of bumps, bruises, scrapes, gashes to keep a doctor busy for a while. One student took a bad 1-0-8 ( a pratfall) hurting his neck and wearing a neck brace for a while. Some else had a rough landing after jumping off the Russian swing. Jumping off that swing required timing. If you jump off too late you'll be in orbit and if you jump off too soon you're a human bullet. That particular student became a bullet and almost cleared the entire length of mats landing at the edge of the last one and scraping his lower back. Another student fell while walking stilts. I could go on.

The worst for me happened on the mini tramp. After landing from a jump the mat slid and I landed on my knee in the gap between two mats on the concrete floor. I hadn't felt that kind of before and it was a while before I walked that off. It required ice right away. I stayed in my room that evening icing my swollen knee with a mountain of ice while watching Wisconsin t.v. programming. Oh the pain! There was no way I was going to let that injury slow me down. The next morning my knee was definitely sore and bruised but I proudly started another day at Clown College on my two feet... but feeling a little less indestructible.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A neat little something for my friends to enjoy.

Slivers Oakley

Here's a drawing I made of Slivers Oakley, the famous circus clown from the early part of the twentieth century. He performed solo in the ring for thousands with the Barnum and Bailey Circus and was famous for his tour de force baseball gag in which he was all the players. Below is a bit of biographical info from Wikipedia.
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