Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clowns and Clowns

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, April 06, 2008)

(This article refers to MySpace's ability to highlight Top Friend's on your homepage.)

I wanted to reflect the month of April on my page this month, but couldn’t decide what to do. Then it dawned on me that April Fools was the defining thing about this month. From there I thought about jokes and laughter, and then that sent me to thoughts of clowns. So that’s what you’re all getting this month; a page full of highlighted clowns.

My first thought was to highlight only the circus variety of clown, but looking at a whole page of those painted faces was too much to handle, so I decided to make them half of the highlighted section and make the other half the unpainted version of clowns, stand-up comics. It’s a little easier on the eyes as well as the brain. (I just couldn’t resist highlighting the Joker and Pennywise, as they kind of sum up my real attitude towards clowns.)

I have a bit of a history with both versions of clowns. Even as a kid, I never found clowns to be all that cute or funny. I thought they were terrifying. My dreams were constantly peppered with homicidal clowns and I avoided them at all costs. When my parents took me to the circus, we had to sit up higher than floor level because I didn’t want to be near the clowns and if they ran up the isles of the venue, honking and laughing, I would hide behind my father and hope they couldn’t see me.

As I grew older, I began to realize my discomfort wasn’t only with clowns. I didn’t like anyone with a hidden face. Mimes freaked me out. If I went to Disneyland, my parents couldn’t get me close to any of the characters. I liked seeing them from afar, but if they got too close, I broke out in sweat and ran the other way. I still feel that way today. If any of those characters even get close to me, I freak and start babbling nervously.

I can still remember two frightening events at the Happiest Place On Earth. One was when I was very young and while my parents were shopping nearby, I wanted to go look at the Phantom Of The Opera statue that was standing near the Main Street Opera House. I was always obsessed with movie monsters, even though watching those films on Saturday morning always brought nightmares. I approached the statue and got right in front of it. I slowly reached out to touch it but just before I made contact, the statue suddenly came alive and lunged out at me. I screamed and took off in a flash down Main Street. It took my parents close to an hour to find me and when they did I was incoherent and my pants were terribly soiled. I have never gotten close to anything that looks like it might be alive but inhuman since then.

The other event happened during the early years of Skip and my relationship. We went to Disneyland for the day and just as we got there, we swallowed a good dose of LSD. There is nothing like the Disney Park on mind bending drugs. (It’s been years since we’ve done that though.) We were sitting on the train at the Main Street Station waiting for it to take off when I saw a frightening sight. Goofy was making his stumbling way towards us. In just a few minutes he would be on the platform and that meant he might be getting on the train with us and I didn’t think my mind could cope with that possibility. I stood up, pointed and screamed,

"Skip! Goofy! Goofy’s coming! We have to go!"

I was in a mass freak-out panic and Skip did everything he could to calm me down as everyone near us was staring with their mouths hanging open. I think Goofy noticed as well, as he immediately stopped and turned the other way. I realized just how close we were to getting in big trouble and sat myself down. I don’t think I made a peep for the whole train ride. There were other weird and wonderful incidences that day as well, but I’ll get to them some other day. We did make it through the day without major trouble, though we came close a few times.

But now I’ve gotten off the subject of clowns and comedians. These days I still get nervous when I see a clown, but at the same time I find them fascinating. The idea of a grown person dressing up and acting the way clowns do just boggles my mind. But hey, anything to make a living I guess, especially in these uncertain days.

On the other hand, I’ve never much liked the un-made up version, the stand-up comedian, either. I rarely find stand-up funny and dread it when I go out to a show to find that they’ve added a comedian as the opening act. One day we were at a venue downtown and we decided to go see what was happening in the downstairs room. We arrived to find out that it was a comedy showcase. My first inclination was to flee, but we wanted to sit down and enjoy an alcoholic beverage, so we found a table and tried to relax. At the time we arrived, no one was on stage, but shortly after our drinks arrived, a young guy took the stage and began his act. The audience giggled, but as is too often the case, the guy just wasn’t very funny. So I sat there and tried to ignore him the best I could. That was when he decided to indulge in some audience participation. He asked the audience what they did in their free time. No one volunteered an answer, so he started pointing people out. People were mumbling that they were lawyers or McDonald’s fry cooks or whatever and suddenly the guy pointed at me. Now I would have thought the surly look on my face would have warned the guy, but he obviously didn’t catch on too well. I kind of waved him off, but he insisted I give him an answer. So I said,

"Obviously I come to comedy clubs to watch bad comedians make me not laugh."

He just stood there for 30 seconds or so just staring at me and then he freaked.

"Fuck you, you asshole! Who do you think you are? Blah, blah,blah,blah,blah!"

I just got up and left. I had proved my point. He wasn’t funny and like most, he had no business being a stand up comedian. (Skip remarked on the way out that he couldn’t take me anywhere, and sometimes that’s true.)

But that said, I do run into comedians that make me laugh now and then. The most recent was Patton Oswald, who did the voice of Remy in the animated film, "Ratatouille". The routine I saw him do had me falling off my seat with laughter.

Mostly though I like the old guys. I’ve even come to like Bob Hope to some degrees. I hated him as a kid and while my parents were rolling with laughter, I just didn’t get it. As a kid I loved Jack Benny, The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy and Lucille Ball the best and would watch their shows and films with hysterical glee. The comedians on "Laugh-In" always cracked me up, even when I found their humor to be stupid. Perhaps it was because it was stupid. Even these days, I love to watch "Saturday Night Live" because even when a joke goes sour, there’s always another one around the corner I’ll laugh at. And there just wasn’t many people funnier than Paul Lynde, the first time I suspected I was seeing a real homosexual on TV. And people seemed to like him!

So there you have it. April’s top friends. April Fools Day is over, but clowns persist. Clowns will always be there to laugh at, just as they’ll always be there to scream at as well. It’s one of the facts of life.

Next week I’ll be back with my delayed tale of Ringo Starr. As always, I always appreciate it when you subscribe to this blog. Subscriptions seems to climb by about one a week, so why not be that one this week?

Take care and thanks for reading. See you here next week…same clown time…same clown channel.

No comments:

Post a Comment