What secret dream do you dream when no one is looking?
I dream about juggling and being a clown in the circus. That’s a nice practical dream to have when you are 45 don’t you think? Sometimes, I go into my garage and dig out my old polyester scarves and practice juggling them. Just for fun mind you. When no one is home, I will stand there dropping juggling tossing up my colorful scarves. While I watch them float to the ground, I remember what it is like to dream about running away and joining the circus, . Not just any circus mind you, but THE Ringling Brother’s Barnum and Bailey Circus to be exact. Clown College filled my hopes and dreams for many years. I had the chance to audition for it back in 1988 and I chickened out. True story.
The auditions were a cold call in Chicago. A come as you are – no make up, no costume, no character, just me. I couldn’t do it. I never arrived – I never tried. I failed before I even began.
Deep down in the secret places of my heart I still want to be a clown, just like my hero Emmett Kelly.
Sometimes secret places can be good places and sometimes not. This kind of memory brings joy mixed with regret.
I studied clowning for a short time under a former Ringling Brothers clown named Bonzo – aka Barry DeChant – he’s long retired by now I’m sure. Barry worked with our class of wannabes and did his best to teach everyone every secret he knew. I would hang on to every word he said and would try to master every last stance, grin, guffaw, and stunt right up until he taught us how to juggle.
Did I tell you I’m dyslexic? Dyslexic people should probably not juggle. Just sayin.
They shouldn’t twirl batons either — I did that in Junior high. Everyone would toss their batons up and to the left. Mine would go up and to the right. I took out more basketball players with my baton during half time than the cheerleaders did all season.
juggling was no different.
Toss Toss Catch Catch became Toss Toss deargodrun!
The class excelled and Barry gave me scarves proclaiming proudly I couldn’t possible hurt anyone with those — he would have been right too, if he hadn’t stuck me next to the flame thrower for our final show. Good thing those flames weren’t real or that would have been really ugly.
I’m too old for clown college but I’m not too old for second chances. I’ve MCed various fundraiser events for several years. I’ve performed comedy during open mic nights and in churches. I even tried to perform at a Christian Comedy Association conference last year for their open mic night — I suffered severe stage fright, but I did it. I’ve traveled and taken classes on speaking and teaching and performing. I’ve narrowed my focus from speaking and teaching to mostly comedy and I have no regrets. I’m actually pretty funny in case you were wondering.
I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now and find myself in my garage with my microphone tossing out jokes to an invisible audience.
I have an audition today – with a major motion picture filming director. It’s an open call, come as you are, no character, no costume, no experience necessary — it’s just like the one I ran away from in ’88. Only this time, I’m gonna be there.
Wish me luck.