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Michael Rielly

National clown shortage may be approaching, trade organizations fear

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Michael Rielly

National clown shortage may be approaching, trade organizations fear

 

As the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus returns to Brooklyn Thursday, membership at the country's largest clown organizations has plunged over the past decade amid declining interest, old age and higher standards for the jokesters.
 
New York Daily News
By NATALIE MUSUMECI
February 17, 2014
 
 
EXCERPT:
 
Send in the clowns — please!
 
As the “Greatest Show on Earth” returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.
 
Membership at the country’s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.
 
“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”
 
He said he wouldn’t release specific numbers, citing the privacy of the members.
 
Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.
 
“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” said Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier, who said most of her members are over 40.
 
Kohlberger said that it’s difficult getting younger people who develop an early interest in the many facets of clowning to stick with it on the professional level.
 
 
“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he said. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”
 
Cyrus Zavieh, the president of New York Clown Alley, a group that boasts 45 members across the New York area, said clowns can pull in up to $300 for a birthday party — but that’s hardly a financial incentive for many young people.
 
“American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether,” said Zavieh, 44, who has worked under the moniker Cido for nearly two decades.
 
“They’re thinking about everything other than clowning.”
 
 
 

 

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Santa TJS

Times seemed to have changed,clowns were very popular in years past as were circus acts. With the modern high tech animation in movies old fashion entertainment for children has shifted to electronic media.

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Santa Johnny Boy

Seems like some of the clowns I know are putting less emphasis on the heavy clown make up and promoting themselves more as entertainers and magicians.  Some don't even use the word, "clown" anymore in their advertising and use more terms like "Uncle Wally" , "Amber's Balloons". 

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Santa Leonard

Some aspects of clowning are very physical and require the skill of an athlete.  Guess clowns aren't cool with younger people.

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Santa TJS

When I was a kid, even black and white television had Bozo the Clown and Howdy Doody had Clarabelle. I don't believe there has been a children's show featuring clowns for a number of years also adding to the dip in popularity among children. Then you have Stephen King book with evil clowns then the evil clown doll in Polterguiest perhaps that put a negative spin on clowns.

Edited by Santa TJS

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Chatham Santa

     Just wondering:  Could this ever happen to the Santa portrayers?????  *shudders*  I hope not!!!

 

     I have to go along with Santa TJS.  My son, when he was a wee one, was scared to death of clowns because of the movies with evil/slasher clowns.  He still, to this day, doesn't care for them.

Edited by Chatham Santa

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SCSanta

No shortage of clowns where I work!  :no:

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Santa Hill

Reminds me of the comeback to the question "How was your day?" - "Same Circus, different clowns."

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Kris Claus

Ok, I made up the part about the shoes. :sc_tongue2:

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/exclusive-national-clown-shortage-approaching-article-1.1616801

 

 

Apparently young people no longer want to run away and join the circus to become a hobo clown. Emmett Kelly the clown must be rolling over in his grave full of red rubber noses. That is, if his big floppy shoes let him. Maybe there is a tripping hazzard.  And just how many clowns can you fit into one of the small coffins? Hmmm.

 

It was enough for me to pull together a decent Santa suit. Don't know if I have the energy for clown work. Maybe this is one of those times Laffo can shed some light in a single sentence. "Just be Laffo." :santa_cheesy:

Edited by Kris Claus

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Santa Dave T

All the evil and bad clowns have taken their toll.  A foreshadowing for us....

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Santa Gordon

I hung up my big shoes and baggy pants back in 97 when I learned there was no market for a bearded clown in my area. In the 80s and the first half of the 90s there was a clown alley a few of us started to help raise the level of professionalism in the 2county area. We had a member ship of over 70 clowns and meetings would number over 90 people at some meetings like the annual swap meet. Now it is almost entirely gone.

When the EDD started telling folks "Go get a clown suit and be a clown for parties" we saw the market flooded with "First of Mays" that did the work below cost of materials simply to get the job. Then as the quality of the performance was well below what the public had come to expect, the backlash to hiring a clown cut into the business as well.

This has happened in the Magic sector of the entertainment business as well but not as hard.

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Elf Without Jingles

Seems to me that Feld Entertainment and Team Ringling can't catch a break these days! First they're battling People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (again!), now there's a clown shortage?

 

Can someone please tell me what world we live in where clowns are no longer worth believing in?

 

Again, something I used to hold sacred is vanishing in a digital world --- and we're simply letting it happen for no good reason! Why?

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Kris Claus

Didn't notice this thread before I started my own.

http://www.clausnet.com/forums/topic/30013-clown-shortage-in-america-big-floppy-shoes-pose-tripping-hazzard/#entry311306

 

Still think mine is funnier though.  :teehee:

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Santa Leonard

Both clowning and magic are theatre ARTS and require skill, practice, and rehearsal to become proficient.  Many young people today, the "instant gratification" generation, do not have the personal dedication to take the time to practice the skills necessary  to become a competent performer.

 

I am concerned this attitude may encroach into the Santa world.

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Ricky Claus

I used to clown around years ago. The last time I dressed up as a clown was in 2008. Its hard to walk in those big shoes.

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Santa Baz

I was a clown for several years. Quit for several reason that I won't bore you with. I know my local clown alley has shrunk and is not as active as it once was.

 

Here's a link to a web page I built a while back showing my various clown incarnations.

 

http://www.tconl.com/~clowns/CLOWNSATLARGE.htm

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Ricky Claus

I am in fear of this happening with Santa's. But I am making a solid commitment to be Santa until I can not so much as get out of bed. More than likely I will go to my grave. But that is a long way off and I would hope if the time comes that I can not there will be a new younger Santa who can learn and do the same. As for the Clowns I always deal with the Shriners. I have an Uncle in Missouri who is a clown.

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