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Clowns _ Mimes

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					CLOWNS AND MIMES


 by and Don L. F. Nilsen
 and Alleen Pace Nilsen


           23              1
Not Scary




    23      2
Scary




  23    3
    COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE
• During the 15th and 16th centuries in
  Italy, as the world-famous commedia
  dell’arte was developing, three basic
  clowns began to evolve: The Harlequin,
  the Auguste, and the character clown.




                   23                  4
 THE HARLEQUIN AND SLAPSTICK
• In the latter half of the 16th century, the “Arlecchino”
  (Harlequin) clown started out as a foolish servant
  and then developed into a more sophisticated,
  acrobatic prankster.

• He carried a large stick that was split so that abrupt
  movements would make the separated parts hit
  against each other with a loud noise.

• This was the development of “slapstick” comedy.
                                • (Nilsen & Nilsen 76)



                            23                               5
• Harlequin clowns had elegant, patched
  costumes with symmetrical patterns and a
  black domino mask covering half of their
  faces.

• Today’s Harlequin clowns (including mimes)
  still wear precise, neatly detailed makeup,
  and a sophisticated demeanor of being “in
  charge.”

• Their aura of control is sometimes
  heightened by the contrast of having a “fool”
  companion.
                            • (Nilsen & Nilsen 77)

                        23                       6
MARIANN MARTIN’S WILD THING




             23               7
               MIMES
• An obvious advantage of mime and
  pantomime is that it transcends
  language barriers.

• Because of this, Charlie Chaplin was
  the first movie star recognized and
  appreciated around the world.


                    23                   8
• Another advantage of mime is that
  it works in arenas that are too
  large or too noisy for people to
  hear well.

• This is why circus clowns and the
  mascots for athletic teams rely for
  their humor on exaggerated body
  movements.



               23                       9
• Emmett Kelly, the famous Ringling
  Brothers clown, was so skilled in
  pantomiming the role of Weary Willie
  that he was allowed to remain in the
  circus arena through the entire
  performances.

• His most famous act was to sweep a
  circle of light thrown by a spotlight into
  a smaller and smaller circle, and then to
  chase it under a rug or into a dustbin.


                  23                      10
• Harpo Marx was one of the world’s
  most beloved pantomimists.

• Harpo was a mute with unruly hair
  who could communicate with
  others only by means of honks,
  whistles, and pantomime.




               23                     11
• He wore a fright wig and an overcoat
  with enormous inside pockets from
  which he pulled such objects as an ice-
  cream cone, a cup of coffee, and
  various pieces of hardware, including a
  blowtorch.

• Somewhere in every movie, he pulled a
  face called a “Gookie,” in which he
  puffed out his cheeks and crossed his
  widened eyes.


                 23                     12
• Harpo’s best known pantomime scene
  is in the movie Duck Soup. Groucho
  chases Harpo, who accidentally breaks
  a floor-length mirror.

• When Groucho looks in the empty
  frame, Harpo is standing on the other
  side and deftly reflects back every one
  of Groucho’s intricate moves.
                     • (Nilsen & Nilsen 201)



                  23                      13
• Marcel Marceau had a clown-tramp
  character named Bip.

• Bip had tight-fitting high-waisted
  pants, a dark jersey designed to set
  off his whitened face, and to serve
  as a backdrop to his expressive
  hand movements. This was a
  modern interpretation of the French
  Pierrot.
                • (Nilsen & Nilsen 200)

              23                   14
• It is ironic that in Mel
  Brooks’s 1976 Silent
  Movie, it was Marcel
  Marceau who said the
  only spoken line.
      • (Nilsen & Nilsen 201)



           23                15
                PIERROT
• The “fool” companion of the Harlequin was
  the Pierrot.

• Pierrot was a French clown with a bald head,
  a flour-whitened face, and an always-gullible
  demeanor.

• Pierrot was the straight man for the
  Harlequin.
                           • (Nilsen & Nilsen 77)
                       23                      16
  THE CHARACTER CLOWN
• At the turn of the century, character
  clowns were becoming very popular.

• They had such identifiable
  personalities as tramps, scarecrows,
  grandmothers, out-of-work gentlemen,
  etc.
                     • (Nilsen & Nilsen 77)

                    23                    17
• Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, and the
  Three Stooges were all character clowns.

• Emmett Kelly’s “Weary Willie,” and Red
  Skelton’s “Freddie the Freeloader” were both
  influenced by Chaplin’s “Little Tramp.”

• Jerry Lewis and Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean)
  were also character clowns.
                       • (Nilsen & Nilsen 77-78)



                       23                       18
        CLOWN TABOOS
• While in character, clowns should
  never be seen doing “normal” things
  like shopping or eating meals.

• They should also never appear in
  public partially out of costume.



                   23                   19
• One Halloween in Paulsboro, New Jersey, a
  police officer dressed up as a clown
  managed to arrest 12 individuals, most of
  whom were wanted for routine traffic
  offenses.

• He explained that instead of getting the usual
  “He isn’t home” response, the clown
  costume got the policeman into the homes to
  make the arrest.

• The real clowns of the world protested.
                          • (Nilsen & Nilsen 78)


                       23                      20
• The clowns of the world also protested
  when Bob Dole referred to President
  Clinton as “Bozo.”

• Larry Harmon, the creator the Bozo
  Television Program, was not amused
  to have the name of “Bozo” used as an
  insult.




                   23                  21
      CLOWNS AS SPORTS
          MASCOTS
• The newest commercial role for clowns is
  that of team mascots.

• Some of the most famous include:
  – Paws for the Detroit Tigers
  – Billy for the Florida Marlins
  – the Chicken for the San Diego Padres




                         23                  22
• !
• Because of the size of sports arenas and
  fields, these clowns are much like early
  circus clowns in wearing oversized, one-of-
  a-kind costumes.

• They also practice exaggerated pantomimes,
  do acrobatics, and use huge props.
  – Philly Phanatic rides around on his dune buggy.
  – The Phoenix Suns Gorilla makes baskets by
    jumping from a trampoline.




                        23                            23
• !!
• Like Circus Clowns, these sports mascots fill
  in dead time, provide photo opportunities,
  give young children someone to relate to,
  and work as genuine clowns at community
  events where they represent the team.

• And they are even able to compete as cheer
  leaders.
                          • (Nilsen & Nilsen 78)



                       23                     24
                    !!!CLOWN WEB SITES
AXTELL PUPPETS:
http://www.axtellpuppets.net/

HOSPITAL CLOWN NEWSLETTER (SHOBI DOBI):
http://WWW.hospitalclown.com/Past%20Issues/Vol%201-6FinalNew.htm

JESTHEALTH (PATTY WOOTEN): http://www.jesthealth.com

LAUGHTER REMEDY (PAUL MCGHEE): www.LaughterRemedy.com
http://www.LaughterRemedy.com

LAUGHTER WORKS (KAY CASKEY AND LAURIE YOUNG):
www.LaughWays.com

VENT HAVEN VENTRILOQUIST CONVENTION:
http://www.venthaven.com/

WORLD LAUGHTER TOUR (STEVE WILSON):
http://www.worldlaughtertour.com/
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References:

Cornwell, Lori M. “The Role of the Clown in Shakespear’s Theatre.” Early
  Modern Literary Studies: Schlolarly Papers, (12 March, 2009):
  http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/iemls/shaksper/files/ROLE%20CLOWN.txt

Epskamp, Kees P. “The Political Exploitation of the Clown Figure in
  Traditional and Popular Theater in Asia.” HUMOR: International
  Journal of Humor Research 6.3 (1993): 271-284.

Granfield, Linda. Circus: An Album, New York, NY: DK Ink, 1998.

Hornback, Robert B. “The Fool in Quarto and Folio: King Lear.” English
  Literary Renaissance 34.3 (2004): 306-338.

Montanaro, Tony, with Karen Hurl Montanaro. Mime Spoken Here: The
  Performer’s Portable Workshop, Gardner, ME: Tilbury House, 1995.




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Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia
  of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT:
  Greenwood, 2000.

Plester, Barbara, and Mark Orams. “Send in the
  Clowns: The Role of the Joker in Three New Zealand
  IT Companies.” HUMOR 21.3 (2008): 253-282.

Remy, Tristan. Clown Scenes, trans. Bernard Sahlins,
  Portland, OR: Ivan-R-Dee, 1996.




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