Clown Job Description, Career as a Clown, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training: No formal education or training is required.
Salary: Median— $51,000 annually
Employment Outlook: Fair
Clowns are artists or performers who entertain a group of people with hilarious acts. These theatrical entertainers are identified by their bizarre and sometimes grotesque costumes featuring colored wigs, strange makeup, and comical footwear.
There are several different types of clowns. Whiteface clowns traditionally cover all parts of their exposed body with makeup. The costumes are often extravagant, and whiteface clowns bear a serious and cocky character. Auguste clowns usually play the role of a joker or an anarchist. Character clowns are eccentric in character, and play the role of a policeman, butcher, baker, housewife, or hobo. Rodeo clowns, on the other hand, are dressed in oversized, wild costumes, and impersonate an animal wrangler or a cowboy.
Depending on the role they are playing, clowns may have to walk a tightrope, act as a lion tamer, or even ride an ostrich. In addition, they need to be experts at gags. Clowns can be seen not only as a part of circus groups, but also in amusement parks, rodeos, parties, theatres, street performances, and clubs.
Education and Training Requirements
Specific educational qualifications are not required in order to pursue the career of a clown. A high school degree, however, may be preferred by some employers. More than academic qualifications, clowns need specific industry skills in order to excel.
There are a number of schools that offer training to clowns. They not only teach the traditional clowning techniques such as miming, juggling, acrobats, and magic tricks, but also focus on entire clowning acts involving activities like juggling, pratfalls, and balancing stunts.
Clowns need to be comfortable with the idea of both choreographed acts and solo ones. The extempore acts entirely depend on the clown’s comic timing, sense of humor, and wit. Creativity and improvisation ability are also crucial since a clown needs to provide constant entertainment to the audience.
Getting the Job
Reputed circus companies, shopping malls, private entertainment companies, and theme parks are all potential employers. After completing a course in clowning, one can directly get in touch with such businesses and find suitable job openings. Sometimes, professional organizations advertise employment opportunities through job portals on the Internet. It would also be a good idea to become a member of a clown association. These associations are often in charge of organizing various events, and may be able to offer some great opportunities.
Some clowns also find their own solo gigs at private parties or events, and others get these temporary jobs through private entertainment companies.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Initially clowns start out in support positions where they learn the nuances of basic clowning acts under the guidance of senior performers. Conferences and workshops are great ways of interacting with other professionals and picking up entertainment tricks from them. With experience, one can find employment with larger businesses and enjoy a longer performance span. However, it is extremely important for clowns to undergo rigorous practice sessions that help polish their skills and maintain their fitness levels.
Employment opportunities for clowns are expected to be fair over the next ten years. This is because even though the number of circuses has started dwindling, there are a lot of other entertainment avenues opening up. The demand for comic relief is relatively high, and many theater groups, private parties, and amusement parks are recruiting professional clowns.
Clowns generally work in a brightly lit and boisterous environment, surrounded by huge crowds. Work hours may vary, and depend largely on the kind of act being performed. For instance, those employed in amusement parks may need to work long shifts, while those in circuses usually perform for 5 to 10 minutes in between other acts. Clowns performing for circus groups need to travel extensively along with the group. Rodeo clowns also run the risk of dangerous physical injury.
Although the job has its drawbacks, a lot of people are attracted to it because of the opportunities it present in terms of interacting with people and being able to create an unforgettable experience as a performer.
Where to Go for More Information
World Clown Association
CHD Management LLC
PO Box 12215
Merrillville, Indiana 46410
Clowns of America International
PO Box C
Richeyville, PA 15358-0532
Midwest Clown Association
Mid-Atlantic Clown Association
C/o Linda Vaughan, 251 Bayberry Ct.
Browns Mills, NJ 08015
International Shrine Clown Association
315 North Nebraska St.
PO Box 102
Marine, Illinois 62061-0102
South East Clown Association
C/o Dianna “Lil’ Smidgen” Hale
1013 Way Thru The Woods
Decatur, AL 35603
Salary, Earnings and Benefits
Clowning as a career option is gradually becoming economically viable. Those working part-time earn between $40 and $150 per hour. Rodeo clowns can earn up to $225 for a single show. The charges are often dependent on traveling costs. Full-time performers just starting out in the profession are likely to be paid around $30,000 annually, while seasoned clowns can earn as much as $70,000 per year. As per the statistics of 2009, the median annual salary of clowns in the United States is $51,000.
Clowns employed in circus groups are often entitled to housing facilities including provision of a kitchen, television, and computer. Some may even enjoy benefits like paid leaves, life insurance, and health insurance coverage. However, insurance facilities are specifically not available for rodeo clowns.
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