Whimsical Wednesday: The Journey to becoming Hugz the clown and beyond, part 5; Clown college the hardest ten weeks of my life

Whimsical Wednesday: The Journey to becoming Hugz the clown and beyond, part 5; Clown college the hardest ten weeks of my life

We were issued a jumpsuit, loaded on a bus and brought to the arena. The fifty of us, forty men, and ten women, all trying to figure out what they have just committed to. As we walk in Jimmy Cricket is singing “When you wish upon a star” there are bubbles pouring out of a machine, a balloon arch and I tear up knowing dreams really do come true. it was better than I had hoped and more than I could imagine. We sat in the old fold down wood theatre style chairs and were welcomed. I think that was the longest I sat still besides sleeping, for the next ten weeks.

It is very hard to describe the atmosphere and sense of adventure that emanates from that arena. Imagine fifty people ranging in age from 18 to 36, from all over the United States, some with lots of entertaining experience, some with none. Harvard graduates, and a farm boy who just finished high school. We were the most eclectic mix of race, gender, size, talent, and creativity you can put together. We were all there to become clowns? Really?

Here is an example of our typical day.

The heart of the teaching was creating my own clown character. My makeup, my costume, my clown essence all needed to work together to fashion a multidimensional clown character that integrated my personality. It stretched me to know myself, to try new things, to fail over and over and over. It pushed me harder than I had ever allowed myself to be pushed emotionally, physically, mentally – you name it I was stretched way out of my comfort zone. Many days ended in tears of exhaustion, frustration, exhilaration, and exasperation at the overwhelming growth curve I was on.

Finding “my face”, was the hardest as I first had to choose between the three basic categories of clown makeup: Whiteface, Auguste, and Character. Once I chose to be a Whiteface, the discovery of “Hugz” was not easy. I was frustrated,and emotional, and could not find the right fit for my face and emerging clown. What many people do not realize is clowns need to be able to show a large gamete of emotions using only their face. You can not be a clown that just smiles, or just frowns. You need to use the muscles in your face, exploit them with makeup and learn to convey the expression using all of it together. Before our Clown face was approved we had to stand in front of our teachers and they would call out expressions which we needed to contort and make sure the makeup “worked”. Surprise face, Sad face, Scared face, Happy face, Impatient face and so on.

When I finally found my face, and had it approved by the teachers I was so tired of smiling and frowning and emoting that my face actually hurt. Yea I know, it was killing you. bud bump bum. However, I was chosen to be on the cover of USA TODAY with my fellow clown and good friend Carlos Ragas.

Next week: Silly stories, heart aches, and daring deeds


2 Comments so far
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So much fun to read about this part of your life, Kari!

Comment by Barb Stoefen

Thanks Barb, weird to look back on it all but very fun, damn I was young!

Comment by Kari

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