We explore the “Clown’s Eye view” of classic comedy movie, “The Blues Brothers,” (1980) and look at some of the ways that this modern era movie touches on timeless clown archetypes and situations going back hundreds, if not thousands of years.
While doing taxes, (of course at the last minute) I always end up meandering over things I’ve done over the last year. This one was kind of cool. At the height of that idiotic media-invented “clown hysteria” last October, the good folks at Good Morning Washington reached out to the experts of Washington DC’s Clown Cabaret to get a more educated perspective. Check it out. I’m the blond. The one wearing pants. 🙂
As GMW mentions, you may find more information about Clown Cabaret at our website.
(I’ll get back to posting about my visual art soon. Been a busy month.)
An NBC reporter, referred by a friend in the business called asked me one question: Is this current strange wave of clown hysteria directly hurting your bottom line?”
I responded that for me, the answer is “no, as I don’t advertise myself as a clown, but I am one. This problem, however has a much bigger scope than my income this month vs. last month, but rather a growing trend in this country, which has been hurting the image of our art form, in the USA, for decades.”
I would have also mentioned there are different types of clowns. Not like the “Auguste, Whiteface and Character,” which any reporter on clowns should know of before calling me. By “different types of clowns,” I mean very different types of performers who call themselves clowns. Just as one can Paint by Numbers or illustrate the Creation of the Universe on a chapel ceiling, Clown is a complex profession for such a simple, Germanic word.
I might have touched on the sadness I feel for our society as a whole; a piece of childhood is lost as children have less access to this memory touchstone to symbolize their youthful wonder and joy. This is a sense of play we grow out of as we mature and spend our whole lives wishing we could recapture. Clowns, really good clowns, can bring that to you.
I would have mentioned how in the 30 years I’ve practiced, studied, wrote and produced three very different theatrical clown shows*, I have changed styles a few times and my definition of “clown” has changed, adjusted and expanded far beyond my Dunning-Kruger inspired first-year definition. I would have mentioned there have been clowns on Broadway, in movies, on TV, and you loved them, and YOU NEVER KNEW THEY WERE CLOWNS!!!”
So yeah; that is what I wanted to say. But before I could get started on information that I think would add necessary nuance to an obviously sensationalized story, he said, “So, you’re sure you haven’t lost any business… [person who referred me to you] said they’d lost a lot of business.”
I said, “No, not currently but I –”
“Thank you, goodbye.”
I have to learn to be more a politician and get in my talking points before I answer their question.
* (OK, I co-wrote and co-produced two of the three with my very talented partners. But I like to think my input was *ahem* useful.)
I mean this sincerely although you have hurt me personally and professionally, and countless other people with your writing.
It is strange for me, a clown be to be thanking you, Stephen King, a man who is singlehandedly responsible for more cases of coulrophobia than any other single human who ever lived. The majority of people I speak to about “fear of clowns,” which has numbered in the dozens, possibly hundreds in my 30-year career, trace their fear back to your book and movie “It.”
You probably didn’t realize that would be the effect of your work; you probably didn’t mean to give a complex to children too young to be watching your movie on cable TV about a homicidal interdimensional being that takes on the guise of a whiteface clown. But you did. You probably didn’t mean to shift (mostly American) attitudes against an ancient profession (older than writing, mind you), but you did.
Still, I thank you.
You see, I am working on a novel. My first novel. What I am thanking you for is a quote of yours on writing, which I just saw the other day:
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
Well said; succinct. Like a man who has practiced the craft, as well as the Art of good writing. You have inspired me to “get up and work.” I’ve been slacky about getting it written: “I’m not in the mood,” or “I don’t know how to proceed.” You have inspired me to push through my self-doubt and write every day. So thank you.
By the way, my first novel is about a medieval clown. That’s irrelevant, but I thought it might be interesting to you. . I’m sure it will be garbage. I realize that when learning to write, the first million words are just practice.
The book will probably be 50-80,000 words when all is done. So, doing the math, it will be around my 12th novel ––the one where I really am able to use the English language with the precision of a surgical laser and readers are dying to read my every word –– that I will write a story in your honor, for which this is the synopsis:
Working title: “That”
Early 1960s. The story opens with a sort of nerdy child stopping on the curb in front of his suburban house after school to read a book. From the bushes, he hears a voice: “Child — child — would you like some free books?”
Enter the imposing figure of the bespectacled Featherweight the Dancing Horror/Fantasy Writer. Featherweight really only appears to be human; “That” is actually an interdimensional creature that feasts on the flesh of outcast children. After a series of bloodbaths, the children of the town beat him back to Dimension X by hurling at him a barrage of split infinitives and broken metaphors.
Featherweight returns in the late 1990s, having gained his strength back over the ensuing 30 or so years. Like a bad simile, he always turns up –– largely rejuvenated by the inexplicable fame of The New Kids on the Block. Unfortunately for him, but fortunate for Mankind, he is immediately squashed once he reads the level to which writing has sinked in the then nascent World Wide Web. Forevermore thereafter, the world is safe from homicidal interdimensional horror/fantasy writers.
Mr. King? I look forward to being seen as a professional in your eyes.