Jim's Friend: Hey, weren't you, like, studying to be a clown?
Jim: I was for a while, but it was just too depressing.
Without the laughtrack, I had that exchange a couple of times in my senior year at college. Clowning was, believe it or not, something I'd considered as a career. Not party clowns or circus clowns, but theatrical clowning.
See, I love theatre. The excitement of a new script, the nervous energy of a first rehearsal, the growing collaboration between across and crew, all building up to performance night? Nothing like it. Unfortunately, the people you work with? Yeah, theatre attracts some enormous egos.
I enjoyed clowning a lot when I'd tried it and early reading on theatrical clowning was fascinating. Comedia dell'arte was known to me, but there were so many other options, even sacred clowning some Orthodox churches. Sacred clowning. Wow.
And then I read a line from a professional clown that went something like, "Being a clown means never being happy." It seemed so very, very dark to say, but the more I thought about it, clowns run around on stage, always striving, always falling, always, well, failing. Never getting what they want, always ending up with their hopes dashed and their pants around their ankles.
I salute good clowns, I really do, the ones who go out every night and make people laugh at how pathetic they are and walk away happy. That's hard, that's really, really hard. And in the spirit of good clownings, I give you Puddles, the Pity Party Clown, howling "Hallelujah."