How do you feel reading that? What does it feel like if I say that you’re stupid?
I must admit, I don’t like being called stupid. It feels bad. Not bad like stubbing your little toe on the edge of the kitchen unit for the 3rd time in one day… but it’s certainly not nice.
I call myself stupid a lot. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. It’s not a very good way to have a friendly relationship with yourself.
But one of the great pieces of advice from the book The Clown Manifesto is…
“[Clowning] is not about acting stupid. It’s about daring to be perceived as stupid.”
It sometimes surprises people when I say I do clowning.
They don’t really get why someone would want to be a clown.
Mostly, it’s because they don’t understand what a clown actually is. They either think of the scary clowns from Hollywood films or children’s party clowns blowing up balloon animals… by which I mean inflating with air, not blowing up with TNT… that was a children’s party I’ll never forget.
But I started clowning because it represents a bunch of skillsets that I didn’t have and I desperately needed…
What is a clown?
Basically, a clown is a performer who is completely comfortable being vulnerable. A performer whose core purpose is to go in front of an audience and say “This is who I really am. This is how I really feel.”
A clown does this through the medium of a heightened “character.”
Many stand-up comedians are clowns (though not all, by any means). One reason we like comedians is because they are honest.
What a comedian says on-stage is often nonsense, or reality mixed with nonsense. But the best stand-ups are honest about who they are. Like clowns, most stand-ups are actually a type of “character act” — they are a heightened version of themselves. But they are honest and we, as the audience, can tell.
The only way we can be honest on-stage is by being willing for people to see us as stupid.
I don’t think I’m there yet with my clowning.
I’m starting to see what it might mean for me… but I’ve a long way to go until I’m comfortable being seen as stupid.