Well, you’re now reading the blog of a New York Clown Theatre Festival, Clown Olympics GOLD MEDAL winner in the Eccentric Dance Event with a more than perfect score of 31 (out of 30). I keep saying it in my head, trying to shorten it somehow so I can fit it on my poster. I keep saying it in my head, trying to fit it into a hyper-self critical mind that is doesn’t want to accept that I could be really good at something. I keep saying it in my head, figuring out what it means that I could be really good at something, and that I could possibly get paid for what I do.
My first weekend here, while taking a bouffon workshop, I bombed. I bombed big. “You want to move to NYC? This city’s gonna eat you alive.” The teacher knew just which button to push. The next day, I sucked it up and rocked it. I was on top. My competitive spirit was working for me. Then a few days later I performed at a cabaret at the festival and bombed. Big. A few people said they “liked it” but I knew. The Clown Big Wigs who come to every show and have blogs and teach and Write Books on the subject, well they ignored me. When a Clown bit is bombing there’s no way around it, but through it…and I wasn’t going through it. I was trying to ignore that I was sucking, which, as one clown friend said is a good sign, “at least you were aware that you were sucking.” In the aftermath of my big NY debut bomb, my friends and fellow clown compatriots have been lovely and inspiring. And then one of the festival organizers asked if I was doing something in the Olympics. My iddy biddy shiddy committee told me she’d asked because they were desperate. BUT, I’m here in NYC now. And my competitive spirit knew that I had, HAD to get back on the horse.
Fast forward to me in the theatre’s tiny bathroom, minutes before my event, peeing my brains out (when I’m nervous before a show I usually drink a gallon of water). And I remember what my Clown friend Jane Chen from San Fran said to me a month ago when she was helping me with my show. Each time’s gotta be the first time. What is THIS show, THIS performance about? For ME, in THIS moment. And so, I thought about all the people out in the audience, half of whom saw me bomb the week earlier. And I thought about all my friends up in Alaska, all the supportive faces, all the faces that I’ve been seeing, playing with and sharing with for the past seven years. And then I think about the Clown Olympic Judges who have Wrote Books on the subject (and no, they do NOT wear big wigs and shoes). And then I get even more scared. And then I finished peeing and a calm came over me. Maybe the calm was because I’d had to pee so bad, but I’m trying to think that admitting to the thing that scares me the most gives me some power. Not in a “Power Over My Fear” woo-woo kinda way. It’s more like I’m going into the barrel of the canon not fighting. As Ronlin Foreman (my Clown teacher from Dell ‘Arte) said, it’s admitting your poverty, your cross to bare. My alternating drive to win and acknowledgement that I’m worse than slime, somehow fueled a pretty darn good show. Of course, having a little dog in the show who does dumb tricks helps too. BUT, I felt like I had the audience. I could See Them. Flying through the air, crapping my pants and I could make out their faces and their eyes. These strangers and these fancy pants Clowns became familiar, friendly even
2007 New York Clown Olympics, GOLD MEDALALIST in Eccentric Dance (31 out of 30 poss. points)
ps. The extra point was from my bribing one of the judges with money. (I’d tried to butter her up before the show with compliments and charm, but she directed me to an ATM down the street).