Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good Morning Jacob...

Letter to My Son
Sunday, January 27

Emmet Kelly

Good Morning Jacob…

I've heard it said recently that the words we use are often disguise.  It is our body language and behavior that give us away.  Who would know this better than the clown?  We each have our own buffoonish moments, performed best when it is totally unintended.  It is for the clown to recognize our act for what it is, find the emotional motivation within himself, then play it back to us in grotesque pantomime so we’re sure to get the point – and laugh.  

Alfred E. Neuman

The whole world doesn’t love a clown.  They can be quite disturbing, especially close up.  After all, it is their nature to be confrontational.  They demand your attention.  You can’t help but look their way, study their movements and feel vaguely uncomfortable.  At some point most of us begin to laugh.  We probably laugh hardest when we recognize something of ourselves portrayed in them.  Surely I don’t appear that way to others.  But, then again… Oh, my God!  

Fellini Clown

You don’t need elaborate circus get up to look like a clown.  A simple red bulb on the end of your nose will give a hilarious context to all your normal everyday behavior.  Just eating a sandwich becomes ridiculous.  Chances are, though, you don’t have a clown nose lying about the house.  In that case, a single item of clothing may do.  Maybe it’s a hat bought on vacation or a loud pair of shorts two sizes too small.  Try wearing your glasses upside down.  It’s important, though, to go about your normal routine oblivious to your humorous appearance.  Keep in mind that being a clown requires we don’t see ourselves as funny.  We only get laughs when our absurdity is first discovered by others.

Krusty the Clown

Our best clowns don’t require any props to be funny.  They focus on the curious things you and I do each day just to get by.  Life routinely provides us moments of confusion, enabling us to better describe who it is we really are, fumbling in befuddlement.  The humor depicted may be too small or seemingly so normal as to go unnoticed.  The clown picks up on our vulnerability because he so readily recognizes it in himself.  

Giulietta Masina

Take a look at Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate or Robert De Niro in Meeting the Parents.  Why are they funny?  It’s not the words they speak.  They wear nothing that especially draws attention to itself.  Placed in everyday, but stressful situations, they reveal with their face, body language and behavior more than what they intend.  Their discomfort is that they've become unscripted.  They have only themselves as resource and that risks being made ridiculous.  We recognize this.  We've all been there.  It’s humiliating, and it can be terribly funny when portrayed by others – with the hurt gone.  It’s the role of the clown to safely show the clown within each of us.  He presents himself as a total goof so that he can mimic our behavior without our feeling insulted.  It’s OK to appear stupid with a red bulb fastened to your nose.  Give it a try.  It works.


Red Skelton

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