Of all the different types of performance artists clowns are perhaps the most funny, charismatic and truthful. Aron De Casmaker, former Cirque du Soleil performer, will be presenting a workshop on the basics of clown performance during Army@TheVirtualFringe. Here he discusses their power to make us look at ourselves, our world, each other – and laugh.
Have you ever referred to a politician as a clown? If not, I’m sure you’ve heard it done. It is quite common and, these days, it is all too tempting especially when the top names make themselves took so deliberately ridiculous.
But really, we shouldn’t do that – call them clowns. Not because I want to add to the long list of politically incorrect things we mustn’t say but because it lets politicians get away with too much.
As a clown, I don’t really see the correlation. For me a clown is funny, interesting, charismatic, surprising and unique. The average politician is none of these things. Okay, not everyone has the same view of what a clown is as I do. I’ve devoted most of my adult life to the clown so my impression will be a little more esoteric.
But even if you go along with the traditional cliché of the clown – of the big shoes, red nose, puffy hair feigning enthusiasm for their tired old routines of breaking cars and squirting flowers it lets the politicians off the hook, as though they are somehow victims of their own public image.
I’ll agree that political staging is a tired cliché, but the centre of what I’m getting at here is that clowns have no power and they have no secrets.- a magic trick becomes a glorious disaster – for example; while the politicians horde power and keep their activities closely guarded secrets. A clown would never do that, the audience knows what the clown is thinking.
Personally, I think clowns should be revered. Of course, I’d say that, no? But really, who better than clowns to expose the politician’s power as nothing more than an illusion? Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jonathan Pie. These clowns won’t change the world but they all bring us a step closer to facing the false notion of power and maybe even taking responsibility for our own lives.
Something power cannot stand is the laughter of those with no power. That’s because it reduces us to what we really are: goofy, little, ape-like mutants. And that is a good thing to keep in mind when we find our actions being guided by our fears and anxieties. We’re ridiculous goofs.
At the minute we’re goofs fumbling our way through a pandemic, Yesterday we were writhing through a muddy referendum, tomorrow – who knows?
But no doubt we’re going to be frightened, angry, anxious, suspicious and all sorts of other despicable things, but let’s call ourselves clowns instead of those unwholesome political holograms and remember to make ourselves laugh a little more. I guarantee, it’ll make it easier to help out our fellow goofs.
- Whirlwind Introduction to the basics of Clown Performance with Aron De Casmaker, former Cirque du Soleil performer, 18 August, 11.30. Places are free but must be reserved at https://www.armyatthefringe.org. Follow-up workshop Wednesday, 19 August, 14:30-15:30