Talk of the clown
Internationally renowned clown artists are here as part of the 4th International Clown Festival. Ahead of their performance, Sparky, vice- president of the World Clown Association, chats with us
It was fixed. We were to interview a real clown. When we walk into a Bandra apartment, where she is currently put up, eager to meet Pam Moody aka Sparky, three jugglers playing pass, welcome us. Trying not to disturb them, we enter quietly to find the 57-year old Moody, seated on a couch, watching the others practise, with an amused expression. A far cry from her clown get-up. When we tell her that typicallyclowns are either too short, too tall or have a long nose, she laughs, “Traditional circus would have many dwarf clowns. There are hardly any now. Clowns come in all shapes and sizes.”
Pam Moody a.k.a Sparky. Pic/Shadab Khan
Having quit her corporate, management job, the American began her career as a clown at a local church. “My daughter, who was 11 at the time, wanted to be a part of the clown ministry programme that was started at the church; they needed a parent to do it with her. I wasn’t fond of clowns. I thought it won’t last long with her because of her age, and I was right. She fell out of it but I got bitten by the bug and quit my job to do this full time,” reveals Moody.
She recalls her first experience of interacting with the audience that felt like an adrenaline addiction for her. “We get different kinds of audience. I have performed for autistic and deaf children. It is important to read your audience and respond immediately,” she informs.
“Theatre is big in the USA. Being a clown is a viable career option. I can earn about R9000 for an hour-long solo performance. A stage show could get me Rs 16,000 an hour. There are circus clowns, though that involves a lot of physical activity; there are large populations of caring clowns who do a lot of hospital work in USA while stage/theatre clowns and ministry clowns promote messages. These messages are not always happy. A good clown should be able to emote, which could move you to tears as well,” she explains. “In America, you can study to be a clown through many training programs. You also learn a lot while jamming with other clowns. The Internet has made it easy to watch tutorial videos and learn at home. Clowns across the world have things in common but are different as well. Mexican clowns, for example, have vibrant costumes while Asian clowns are skilled with their acrobatics,” she adds.
Her expertise is presenting stage work that has a message. Pointing out to the three clowns, who by now are lying down and balancing plastic clubs on their nose, she says, “I am not great at physical skills like these kids because I did not start at a young age.” Admitting that live shows and interacting with people is what she enjoys most, she tells us, “I love to play with kids. Often, when the car stops in traffic in Mumbai too, I play with the kids who are begging at the window. I am keen to step out in person, but that might cause security issues,” she laughs.
When we tell her that popular myth says that the clown is actually sad, behind the mask sad, she admits, “People always expect me to be happy. When I am in make-up though, I am happy. There are times when I am in my own world in the car or at a gathering, but then I see a child smiling at me and I switch on immediately. I always have enough things in my pocket to entertain with,” she concludes.
On: November 7, 3 pm to 8 pm
At: Courtyard, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
Benji (Benjamin Domask) and Lo-Lo (Bekah Smith) from USA and Timmyto (Oscar Bond Flores) from Mexico. None of the trio have performed together before. Smith, who had performed last year in Mumbai, recalls huge crowds who watched the show. “We were stuck in the mall for an extra hour because of the crowd. I have never seen so many people,” she laughs. Domask, who has watched Indian movies,believes that he thinks some of the comedians in films are excellent performers, however, he doesn’t remember any names. India’s Flubber aka Martin D’Souza who is the regional director, West Asia and the Middle East of the World Clown Association and is the producer of International Clown Festival, says, “Indian clowns are not at par with their world counterparts. They need exposure, which is the main objective here. The audience here is well exposed and loves this form of entertainment.”