Modine the Clown has been around since the 1970s. Yes, even before that I had the spirit of a clown, just not the know-how. I’ve been through a period where people thought female clowns were a real novelty. In fact, that’s how I got into Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Ball! I was in my early 20s, could juggle 3 balls or 3 scarves, and had just completed my clown training, or so I thought. One of the more experienced clowns had a U.S. government position of some sort that connected him with planning the inaugural events and that’s how I ended up there, floppy shoes and all. To tell you the truth, I was more comfortable as Modine than I would have been in a fancy ball gown.
Just a few months later I was off to join the circus. I learned how rough life can be when you have to pull up stakes (literally) and move daily, setting up the tents in each new town, doing 2 shows, and then loading it all back on the truck to move in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t love that part of circus life, but I loved hearing the laughter when Modine and the other clowns entered the ring and did their routines. Laughs by Modine were the order of the day back then.
We’ve been through the times when people wanted clowns for every kind of event imaginable. Well, ok. I was never asked to a funeral. Birthday parties, wedding receptions, christening parties, and more were part of my regular life for a long time. As women worked more and sent their children to daycare or preschool, they somehow began to believe that 4 and 5 year olds were too old for clowns. What???? They were the perfect age! They still are, except lately people have begun to believe that clowns are creepy.
I asked the little girl across the street one day if she thinks I’m creepy. To my delight she said no. Of course it may have been to my advantage that I had entertained at her 7th birthday party 4 years ago. That means she’ll be eleven any day now. Guess what? I’m invited to entertain at her party again! Some of the humor will need to be a bit more sophisticated, but not all of it. I have a few new tricks up my sleeve. I’m not going because her mother doesn’t know what to do for the party, or because her parents think she’s too young for a different kind of party. I’m going because this child asked specifically for me to come back.
When are you too old for clowns? I have no idea. Certainly the family across the street doesn’t think they’re too old. Neither did the young man whose mother surprised him with a visit from me 16 years after I appeared at his 5th birthday. Yes, he had a clown at his 21st, and he loved it. People in nursing homes cling to the clown, just want somebody to spend some time with them. Often I get some of my best material there. They love to play tricks on me. Humor has no age barriers. People love to laugh. Babies learn to smile by the time they’re 3 months old. Smiles connect us. Send in the clowns!
Send in Modine the Clown.