Minnesota Clown Daze workshop CLOWNverges on St. Paul this Saturday
This Saturday, a whole slew of clowns, clowns-in-training, wannabe clowns, and people who really, REALLY love face painting will converge (or is it...CLOWNverge?) on St. Paul for the annual Minnesota Clown Daze workshop, taking place above Twin Cities Magic and Costumes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This one-day workshop will school you in the ways of the clown (like a samurai movie, but for clowns), with classes on everything from face painting, to character development, to social-media marketing, to how to not scare the crap out of people. It's like a clown boot camp, only with more clowning around.
The event is being organized by Minnesota Clown Alley 19, a local organization of clowns that dates back to the '70s. Darrin "Goofie the Clown" Johnson, vice president of the Alley, is heading up the big workshop, which is designed to help seasoned and aspiring clowns to perfect their craft.
"We're bringing in some really great instructors for this year's event, including a former Ringling Brothers clown, a juggling expert, and an amazing costume designer who will be selling her wares," he says. "Anyone who is interested in clowning is invited to attend, and it's a terrific educational opportunity that should be a lot of fun, too."
A 27-year veteran of the clowning game himself, Johnson says that every year he learns something new from the event. "I actually took the social-media course last year, which is really good for older clowns who may not be familiar with things like Facebook. I'm actually pretty good with Facebook, and I still learned some new tricks on how to promote myself."
If past years are any indication, Johnson says he expects anywhere from 40-60 clowns to attend the workshop. He says that the crowd is pretty diverse in age and experience levels, ranging from retiree-aged volunteer clowns to younger clowns looking to make the leap to the big time circus stage one giant shoe at a time.
"It's a really helpful and welcoming group," Johnson continues. "Even if there's a trick or a new balloon animal that you want to learn and it isn't being taught formally, chances are someone will be able to help you out. We clowns aren't really all that competitive, so anything we can do to make each other better performers, we'll do it."
While Johnson explains it as one big clowny family, he admits that there are some misconceptions about his craft that the Alley works hard to dispell.
"Scary movies really set us back quite a bit," he admits. "That's why we spend some time in the face-painting class focusing on lines, colors, and things like how big to make your mouth so that you don't look scary. We also have ethics guidelines for what you should and shouldn't do while in costume, like drinking or smoking or anything like that." (Sounds to us like sort of a code of CLOWNduct).
As for anyone looking to get started in clowning, Johnson has one simple piece of advice. "Let your guard down," he says. "It's okay to be silly and goofy, so just have fun with it. Everyone at the workshop is really supportive, and when you can make someone laugh, it's an incredible feeling."
Mark your calendar (or is it...CLOWNander? Reaching? Got it) for this Saturday, jam 10-15 of your closest clown friends in your hilariously undersized clown mobile, and come find out what it takes to get all clowny.
IF YOU GO:
Minnesota Clown Daze workshop
Saturday, September 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Twin Cities Magic and Costumes, 250 East Seventh St., St. Paul
$75 for pre-registration, $95 at the door
Click here for details