Friday, June 10, 2011


As a diversion from the ordinary, I had to post this document written by my husband Bob Gilbert.
This document was written for the community newspaper at Cranbury Crossing in Monroe Township.
It inspired me to do this little drawing after laughing for almost 20 minutes after reading the contents, and laughing while creating the drawing. So, read, enjoy and laugh, at the same time getting some incite to CLOWNING AROUND!

By Bob Gilbert
Recently, my wife Linda cracked a few hilarious jokes over dinner.  I told her that she was a great comedienne and jokingly asked her if this was a natural talent or whether she had developed it by attending clown school.  We had some laughs about it and then I started to wonder whether there is such a thing as “clown school” and whether people still work as clowns today. 
Before I share with you the answers to these probing questions, let’s get the obvious joke out of the way – that if you look up “clown” in the dictionary, my picture is there.  Very funny, score one for you. 
Now, let’s get down to business:
First, the mere definition of a professional clown makes me laugh - “a comic character known by distinctive makeup and costume, ludicrous antics, and buffoonery whose purpose is to induce hearty laughter”.  Sounds like some people I have known over the years!
Professional clowns work in various settings including at children’s birthday parties, storytelling sessions, adult events, and what is described as the major league of clowning – the circus. 
Apparently, becoming a professional clown involves a lot more than putting a lampshade on your head and cracking a few jokes.  First, you need the right personality – you must love to make people laugh.  Assuming you have that, you must develop the clown’s character, including makeup, costume, and the character’s personality, as well as associated skills such as magic, balloon animals, face painting, and comic routines.  A name must be chosen, which may be related to the character’s profession, such as Dr. Fumbles, Nurse Jones, or Professor Dum Dum. 
And if that’s not enough, a clown must become adept at the use of props such as a rubber chicken, a Harpo horn, a honking nose, and juggling balls.
And don’t forget the oversized shoes.  You can either buy them from a specialty shop or make them yourself by purchasing size 18 Converse sneakers and then gluing your own shoes inside of them.
There are different ways to become a professional clown.  You can spend time with a clown in your area and learn the ropes; attend clown workshops and conferences run by local clown clubs; or attend one of the many “clown schools” throughout the United States.  The New York Goofs Clown School offers intensive two-week courses taught by experts.
So the answer is yes, there is such a thing as a clown school.  But beyond that, there was also a clown college!  It operated from 1968 – 1997 and was called the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Clown College.  Its purpose was to supply clowns to work in the circus, and it produced over 1,000 trained clowns.
There have been many popular clowns in the United States.  Emmett Kelly was famous for his character, “Weary Willie”.  “Bozo the Clown” was created in 1948 and was played by many actors over the years.  “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger Happy Clown” was developed in the early 1960s for McDonalds’ TV commercials and was originally played by news personality Willard Scott.
I think that I really started something with this clown business - Linda wants to know when we are enrolling in clown school.  I don’t know if I am ready for that, but I do see one big advantage for the two of us if we were to graduate from clown school – when people say that “Bob and Linda are two clowns”, rather than getting offended, I could accurately say, “that’s true, and thank you for recognizing our professional accomplishments!”


  1. On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 12:40 PM, <jud1thbwrote:

    Very cute-you might have something going here- you could be like those catalogues that have stories about the items they are selling. You could have inspirational articles to go along with all your paintings!!!

  2. Toby. Brickner to me
    Very cute, informative article...

  3. On Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 7:14 AM, <hlau2021 wrote:

    very cute article- I have a friend who was a professional clown- had a Fulbright scholarship for it (if I remember correctly) & went to Ringling Bros school.

  4. sarootz said:
    part of your job as a teacher was being a clown so that you could entertain the kids and make them interested in learning.

  5. On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 11:23 AM, wrote:

    Hi Linda and Bob,

    This was enjoyable reading, and very light hearted, unlike some things over the internet these days.

    Laughter is indeed important, especially in healing. They have clowns who work in children's hospitals.

    Did you know that, recently McDonald's was thinking of "firing" Ronald. Absurd! Glad they did not.

    I do remember Willard Scott and the other clowns you mentioned, but you forgot about Clarabelle from Howdy Doody. (Charlie was in the gallery when he was little.)

    Some people are afraid of clowns, even today as adults.

    I am sorry to see that RB&BB Clown College is no longer in business.

    Keep laughing!


    P.S. Next thing I know you'll be juggling!

  6. Hi Nancy,

    This is Bob writing to you. Thanks for you nice comments.

    You certainly are knowledgeable about clowns.

    When I was doing the research for the article, I came across the fear of clowns that you mentioned - I think it is called coulrophobia (or something like that). Apparently it occurs when parents neglect to explain to children that clowns are not real but just people in costumes, and it can last a lifetime without treatment.

    I did omit Clarabelle, probably because I was not a Howdy Doody fan. I preferred Soupy Sales. Due to space limitations, I also did not mention that Red Skeleton played a clown on his TV show (I don't know if you remember that) and that Krusty the Clown appears on "The Simpsons". And Linda reminds me of the evil clown in Stephen King's movie "It".

    I heard about the proposal to do away with Ronald McDonald because it was felt that McDonalds was using the character to market junk food to children. That sounds a little ridiculous to me.

    Thanks for reading the article and for your interesting and witty comments.



  7. Cookymom13 to me

    show details 10:11 PM (9 hours ago)

    Did not know the official name of clown phobia. I loved Red Skelton. Linda, I could just picture you with Lambchop! My neices loved Shari Lewis and Soupy Sales. Thanks.