Day 8 of Clowns at Gaulier

Well… I’ve not written much over the last few days.

Part of that is due to tiredness. Boredom – an emotion (if you can call boredom an emotion) that I spend a lot of my life struggling with.

It’s a bit of a return back to the first days of the Le Jeu course — boredom being the biggest crime here.

One of the most common “refrains” of my brain when I’m struggling to get things done is “I’m bored!” (which is interesting that it’s a theme in my life given that learning to notice when we are bored is one of the core learnings at Gaulier)

I did 7 days of the course via Zoom, thanks to getting covid at the start of last week. Yesterday (day 8) I tested negative for the first time so was able to come back to the live class.

And it was interesting on Zoom, sure. I wrote a lot of notes from the online stream of the class and I did manage to learn some things. But, only my brain was engaged. My body was not.

In clowning, there seems to be a delicate balance between your mind/intelligence and your body.

For a long time, I’ve thought of clown as being almost entirely non-intellectual. That’s one reason I was drawn to it in the first place.

Instead of “thinking of a good idea” (as you do in stand-up comedy or improv acting) you just lean into your physicality. You don’t “think.”

Here, the spanner in the works with that theory is that you have to “avoid the flop”… which basically means:

  • You come on stage, either alone or with a partner or more.
  • You have to do something, off the top of your head, that makes people laugh.
  • If nobody laughs, you have to change what you are doing to find another idea.

This is tough because finding a “funny idea” feels like an intellectual task.

When you’re on stage, the lights are pointing on you and the requirement to “be funny” makes your brain start frantically searching for a funny idea… which never comes.

You’re stuck in a kind of limbo.

You know you have to make a big, risky move, but you have no idea what to do…

… and your brain just fails to find an idea.

So you Flop.

I guess the key is to learn how to NOT think. To get used to “feeling the Flop” and doing something instictively.

For this reason, I feel like I’ve missed out a lot of “reps” on this course.

While I’ve learned things via Zoom, what I haven’t done is practice feeling The Flop again and again.

Which means that these 3 days I’m here in person, I just need to Flop a lot. As much as possible.

I don’t expect to have “successes” these days. I’m just going for failing as much as possible.

And hopefully I can find some successes in the Edinburgh Fringe next week.

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