This is not a funny story about a clown.
There once was a clown, a robustly rotund and cantankerous man.
Adorned with a lily-white ruffle collar, white face, red lips, and blue eyes.
He wore no natural hair, but a thin red wig that seem to grow out of his head, as if his head became a pot for a goofy plant.
He wore a one piece suit that covered him top to bottom, in TWO shades, yellow and black. The body of a wasp.
A traveling clown, one who could never settle for a stable station; he journeyed, alongside a veritable troop of fellow supporting jesters, across the country, delighting and absolutely frightening where he went.
Children, especially, loved him.
(after an initial paralyzing fear of course)
He had the premier talent of charm and repugnance unique to the best clowns. As a goofy gaffe-chaser, Pag could engage in the most inane things, like balloon animal-making, and make a mess out of it.
He would fumble and foray into these rubber creatures, with furrowed brows and high-pitched comical struggle, and end up with a remarkable approximation of a child's request.
The frustration he wore in his face, and the annoyance borne in his throat, inspired laughter in the children.
They laughed at his incompetence and frustration.
And, of course, being the good clown that he was, he dove into the characterization of an incompetent. Smiling and giggling with the children, as if to say to the kids:
"It's okay to laugh at yourself and be a fool,
because all of it is absurd.
Life, your street, the parents, and the school,
what other people say are just words,
there are no rules.
Can you still have a good time?"
Of course, the poem never recited itself in the minds of the children, they felt the unhindered joy of Pag's misfortunes, his ability to enjoy frustration, and turn not getting what you want immediately, into a funny thing.
That is comedy.
He stretched out his silliness as much as he could for the children, because he knew once you get them laughing, smiles from the parents were soon to follow.
The parents were of his interest, as well.
You see most adults lose not their inner child, whatever that is supposed to mean, they lose their ability to laugh at the whole thing.
They lose their ability to point out that life is absurd, seriously.
The adults all show up to the clown show begging for their kids to be entertained, so they can be offered a break from the all too rigorous task of rearing children, heading households, and making difficult decisions.
But the clown show is just as much for adults as it for children.
For the kids, it is an early impression of how to properly laugh at suffering, and for the adults, it is a notice that it is bad to not laugh at all.
This, in Pag's mind, was the job of the clown. To aggregate all the silliness, to draw all the embarrassment onto his ridiculous costume, into his ridiculous gestures, and mime someone not weighed down by introspection.
He was an entertainer, a comedian, someone who tamed his silliness to live unabashedly moment-by-moment.
In front of the crowd, he plays with so many expressions: he smiles, he frowns, he pouts, he makes odd sounds, and he honks his nose, but doesn't scratch his head.
Pag's face seems painfully flexible, willing to go through the entire gamut of our emotions, just to make people laugh, to make them aware of him and only him, and to stop being so aware of themselves. He feels for them.
After the show, Pag is in his dressing room, really just a closet in a run-down auditorium.
He sits on a swivel seat, one leg touching the ground, the other curled into his lap; he rests his head on his palm, elbow in thigh, looking into the ground.
On stage he is a lively thing, imbued by the divine desire to make people forget, even if for a little while, the profundity of our situation here on Earth.
But the price he pays for this keenness, this sensitivity, is a painful inversion of his onstage persona, that stalks him.
Since the clown gladly takes on the realities, the profundities, the absurdities, and the joys, he amplifies everything. By becoming a conduit for all those lively expressions in front of an adoring crowd, for all the lovely times he creates, by wearing all of his emotions on his CLOWN FACE, he accentuates ALL OF IT.
That means even though his positive emotions are engorged by the manic energy of performing, the negative emotions are empowered as well. And they follow him. They have the good sense to leave him in peace in front of the crowd, he can't do a bad job obviously, but the stage is only a temporary reprieve.
Imagine the exuberance of an energetic clown's performance, inverted, he becomes a tired man, a sullen man, a withdrawn man.
Constantly remembering that life seems so absurd, however absurd THAT declaration seems on its face, brings a solemnity not traditionally befitting a clown. Alone, he feels really alone.
He knows he is alone.
This amplification, of course, exhausts him.
So, back stage, amongst his peers, he broods, not out of malice or arrogance; he is simply tired. A lot of energy is required to rapid-cycle through joy, frustration, anger, hysterics, laughing, and pain, to make people laugh, but the funny thing is he can hardly do the same.
Our clown in white face and red lips, now smushed blue eyes, with his hair a dying poof, he drives his eyes upward from the ground and stares at himself in the mirror.
His jester companions all walk by behind him as he looks into the mirror, he sees their commotion, their liveliness, for them it is an act, for him, for being the true fool that he is, it is his life. He envies them in their being able to drop the ridiculousness; he is no clown without his method, and his method is taking laughing seriously.
Tears stir, but they do not well, for he is a clown.
He can not help but turn further inward.
On stage, he is the source of laughter.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I really enjoyed reading this and taking a deeper look into this character's life and what things mean for him. Very well written.
You actually gave this clown a personality and a life of his own, through his eyes, loved reading it. Happy writing.
A masterpiece. Just like the children and adults in the story, I was ready to write off the “silly” clown. But the more I read the more I learned of the many levels of his art, the skilled trickery, and most of all passion, in his technique and the deep void, both he and I would feel, once his show was over. Long live Pag The Clown and his insightful creator.
You're a poet, sir. The title in itself is a microcosm: the clown insulates himself with laughter. I love your language, and the way you use italics and caps for emphasis, drawing our attention to the important nuances. Great work.
Thank you for the kind words. I try to make the writing seem close to speech, or at least, something that would be interesting simply spoken aloud. I think a lot of people would identify with a clown character like this.