Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FFF #37 - Clown College Commencement Address

As with juggling, the key to life is to keep the procession moving steady and don't look down. There are days when you're not going to feel like putting that makeup on or pulling on your giant pants. But these are the things you are called to do. You've spent four years here in this safe place, testing your abilities and studying the masters. Now is the time for you to gather your glee and set forth into our sad world to spread joy.

And don't be mistaken; people are going to laugh at you. And not just because you're a clown. They're going to say, "Why be a clown? Why not do something more productive, more practical." Artists everywhere have had to face this question. And you must dig deep into your souls and sort through your own internal prop trunk to find this answer.

But we the faculty at Cleveland Clown College won't send you off without a bit of advice on this matter. We have been here for you these past four years and we can give you some pearls of wisdom that you can carry around under your rainbow wig to rely on when you're feeling like your seltzer bottle has lost its fizz.

In these dark days of bubbles bursting, oil spilling, and war, the world needs a pie in the face. And it needs to be delivered by someone who takes clowning very seriously. We need to be the ones to demonstrate the ridiculous so that people can stop being so serious about everything and see the situation as it is. Once we have a laugh together, we can shrug off the sadness, pick up our rubber shovels and get to work making the world a better place.

We need to bring smiles to faces lest the oppressive weight of it all crush the spirits of our collective souls. It is our duty to make farts visible with powder and to apply our acrobatic prowess to pratfalls to lighten up this universe. For if we do not do these things, the doomsayers win and we are left with a world where flowers don't squirt and handshakes are de-electrified and sadness reigns. These bits of whimsy brighten the world a little bit at a time. And if we continue to brighten the world together, the dark forces lose their grip and we can all shake our heads to clear them and face our problems with spirit and aplomb.

Tell those people who shake their heads at you and mock your life's calling that they can go ahead and scoff. They'll be tied to a desk, while you get to see the world, either in small scale at backyard birthday parties or in the Big Tent. You'll rub elbows with acrobats and lion tamers and ride elephants and unicycles to work while they carpool with grumps and drudge away in a cubicle. And you are charged with producing laughter in the hearts of children of all ages.

But the best part about it is to bring hope and happiness in such an intimate and face-to-face way. And hope and happiness are our beacon that will light the way to a better world. You have been prepared by the best and you are ready to pick up this standard and carry it forth. We the faculty wish you all the best and will be here for you as you face the challenges of clowning.

Thank you, Cleveland Clown College Class of 2010. You have strengthened our numbers and enriched our hearts so that we may all face the darkness with our balls in the air.


  1. Once again, you have managed to astonish, amaze, and amuse! You really do have a knack.

    I know for a fact that you have previous pie throwing experience but would you mind handling my seltzer bottle. I'm afraid you've shaken it up.


  2. What a frighteningly accurate portrayal of Cleveland governance.

  3. Oh, how I loved this! :-) :-)

    An absolute joy to read! It reminded me that the po-faced management team I have to work for could do with a healthy dose of hilarity and slapstick! (sadly, the workforce is divided into two distinct groups - those with brains, and those who make the decisions!)

    I think I shall select the following as my mantra to carry me through another day at the saltmines tomorrow:

    "We need to be the ones to demonstrate the ridiculous so that people can stop being so serious about everything and see the situation as it is"

    Thankyou for brighteninging my day, Flan!

  4. Thank you, Doc and Dr.

    Randal: Alas...

    Sue: You are so welcome! And thank you for brightening mine!

  5. Flannery, one of the best things I have read for quite a while. "These bits of whimsy brighten the world a little bit at a time."...and where would we be without whimsy?
    Thank you for a great start to my day.

  6. Well, Flannery, I was SOOOO impressed with this story I blogged about it and even my daughter took a look and is now waxing lyrical about your work!

  7. Crybbe666: You are welcome! I had so much fun writing this; I'm glad you liked it.

    Sue H: Thanks so much! I'm glad your daughter got a kick out of this!

  8. What a clever and interesting use of a starter sentence. As I read this I envisioned a Big Top set up on the quad filled with newbie clowns wearing bizarre renditions of the mortar board hats while behind the podium, an aging clown delivered the address through over painted red lips under a bright rubber ball nose.

    Very well done. Awesome.

  9. Cracker! Caught me on the funny bone good and proper.

  10. This was a great little pearl of advice. I won't take it lightly. I will make use of this for ages to come!

    This was a great piece and I loved reading every bit of it. I have to agree, this is one of the best pieces I've read in a while!

  11. Apologies for my lateness. Damn, everything has already been said! Another great piece of writing, Flannery. Top marks.

    Have a great weekend.

  12. MRMacrum: Thank you! And I really like your visualization. Big Top! I couldn't think of that phrase when I was writing this. Thus Big Tent...

    LJP: Good! My aim was true...

    Thanks so much, Coraline and David!