Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Clown

The clown as a motif can be found in abundance in books, plays, movies and other forms of art. The chief difference between a clown and a stand up comedian is that the stand up comedian will often ridicule events, famous personalities or even the audience, while the clown will usually draw laughter by subjecting himself to ridicule. Often during performances, such as during double acts, clowns will assume different personality types. One of them may become the authority figure and the other might be submissive. Sometimes a clown may even act out a specific role as any serious actor would. 

By wearing make-up, a clown can make you look at everyday life and situations differently. The audience can become dispassionate and objective about a topic that can otherwise be quite sensitive. This is an interesting way to engage with the audience, and can be quite powerful in terms of the impact it can have.

Clowns in literature, plays or movies often deal with not just the on stage performance, but also the person who wears the mask. In such cases, the clown can be the central character or sidekick. As the main protagonist, the on-stage clown is usually relegated to the sidelines, and replaced by a gloomy person, often as morose as his stage personality is funny. The on stage persona will appear only at intervals, either as a reminder that the person can actually draw laughter from crowds as a performer or sometimes just to demonstrate the person is no longer capable of drawing laughter like he used to in the past. As a side kick, the clown (or the fool), connects to audience, engages them and helps them interpret the story and identify with it. Any attempt at fleshing out the character of a clown, presents interesting opportunities to the writer or director. For example a clown may enact a serious situation on stage with reckless frivolity, and then unmask himself to reveal a character as real as the viewer - a character often emotionally scarred by the impressions that he does on stage. Such a performance can draw from the audience a complex range of reactions, taking him on a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

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