Day 3 of Clowns at Gaulier (stuck on Zoom due to getting Covid)

Well, today, the saga of Covid continues, as one of my classmates (also my housemate) tested positive.

Which is (to vastly understate it) less than ideal.

I know, I know. Covid is famously a bastard. It is excessively transmissive and can move from one person to another very quickly.

I know, I know. My housemate might not even have got it from me. He might have gotten it from another person who caught Covid at the end of last week. We now know of 5 people who got it.

But what this whole situation has done is created is a strange environment in the class. The school is on hyperalert. There is a “blacklist” of people which I can’t help thinking of as ” people have interacted with Alex” (which feels a bit like being famous for being the zookeeper who accidentally let the tiger escape).

Last week, we were all struggling with the Bouffons course. On some level, many of us were just thinking “I’m looking forward to this course being over, so we can enjoy Clowns.”

And now, I’m told, everyone who was here last week is looking back on Bouffons as halcyon days when everything was good.

It’s the old thing of feeling “I’m sure I was enjoying myself more back then than I am now.”

But, with clown, you have to enjoy yourself right now.

You can’t do a clown show and say to the audience “I was better last night.” They’d understandably be unhappy if you said that.

You have to be present and bring your enjoyment in the moment, whatever the current situation.

Gaulier told a story today…

“A clown signs a contract for a show in Zurich. He needs to be there in 3 weeks.

2 weeks before, he says goodbye to his wife and children and heads to Zurich.

He takes a train, but he gets it wrong. Then he takes another train. He gets lost again. He is not good at travelling alone.

He doesn’t know how long he has been travelling, 3-4 weeks maybe. He thinks that he is late for the show.

He is sleeping somewhere. At 3 o’clock afternoon, he hears trumpets, the sounds of a circus movement.

He wakes up and he is close to the circus. But the doors are closed.

The clown climbs to the top of the circus tent. He finds a hole at the top and goes in.

He descends down a rope and arrives into the circus…

And he arrives at just the right time.”

This, Gaulier says, is a classic entrance of a clown.

Every night, a clown wants a miracle.

This feeling of “every moment on stage is the space for a miracle” is interesting. It’s completely the opposite of the feeling of “I did this better before in the past.”

For me, last week for example, I was disappointed by my final Bouffon performance because I felt I had done better in my rehearsals.

But, with a clown, every moment is looking for that miracle. The clown does something that they think might be funny.

If the audience laughs, it is funny. If not, the clown needs to save the laugh by doing something completely different.

Nobody knows what makes something funny.

Philippe said to someone today “Why you’re not funny, I don’t know. It’s impossible to know why you are not funny. But today, you are not funny.”

The test, in this Clowns course, is whether the audience is laughing or not.

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