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Mastering simplicity since 1981! Galumphing through life with an understanding wife since 1974! Making people laugh since birth (except for a humorless vice-principal in middle school who didn't think I was very funny at all.)

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Behind The Big Red Nose

A little history...

     In what seems like a lifetime ago, I started writing clowning columns for the very influential (but now sadly defunct) LaughMakers Magazine.  My approach was a bit different.  To be frank, I was more than a little disappointed with the clowning scene in the United States.  I saw a lot of people in costume, I saw a lot of facepainting, I saw a lot of ballooning, I saw a lot of magic, but I saw very little clowning.  I even saw people winning prestigious awards for nothing more than looking good... but doing very little clowning.  This kind of thing was setting a false standard for our performance art form.  I felt like the little child watching the emperor parade by with no clothes and nobody was telling the poor guy he was naked.   So, in my columns, I told him!

    I had a funny couple of years.  At conventions people would come up to me, look around to see if anybody was watching, and whisper to me their support... "keep it up, it needs to be said"... look around again, and then almost slink away.  But criticizing is one thing, providing solutions is another.  The focus of my columns in LaughMakers, and later in Funny Paper and in The New Calliope (and for a short period of time for Clowning Around) became  HOW to make each and every activity a clowning activity.

 Don't look to other clowns for acceptance, approval and awards.  Go out there and get it from your local audiences!!!  Make 'em laugh and you are on the right track.  If you don't make 'em laugh even pristine makeup and  an expensive costume can't save you.   

    My approach connected with a lot of people.  I found out that a good number of people were collecting my columns in cut-out-and-paste self made albums. One even retyped my articles into a manuscript of sorts and just gave it to me.

   I got the hint.  I organized over a decade of articles, categorized them, combined some articles, did some necessary editing on others and  came out with a personally compiled, personally copied, self bound book I called Behind The Big Red Nose.  Putting the books together was very time consuming and the cost was substantial.   Accordingly, the price of the book was high.  Even so, I sold more than I ever thought I would.  When I was teaching ballooning in Belgium in 2002, one of the students there brought up a well worn copy he had marked up with follow-up questions.

    Time passes... and I haven't produced any new copies of Behind The Big Red Nose in years even though people still ask about it (did I mention that its production was time consuming and costly?)  In current rereading a lot of the examples are quite dated, but, the substance behind them are still very sound, if not timeless.

  Eventually it struck me!  Put it on the website!!!   So... here it is... in its entirety... for free!  Please forgive the musty odor of some mid-90s references and look for the gold that's still in there.

  The chapter tabs on the top of this page are the chapters in the original book (left to right).

     Enjoy.  Learn.  Try new things.  Above all, embrace the wonderful art of clowning and get out there, find audiences of all ages and Make 'Em Laugh!!!


                                                          David Bartlett, aka Mr. Rainbow