Do you want to become a professional clown and you want to know what it takes? If YES, here are requirements you need to apply and get a clown license. There are no formal academic or legal requirements to becoming a clown, although a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts or in Visual and Performing Arts can be useful. Both degrees teach the skills necessary to conduct a public performance.
However, in practice, you’ll want to spend some time putting together an act and you may want to attend clown school to learn how certain things are done. But if your performance requires music and loud noise publicly, then you may be required to obtain a music license. In the united states, in order to play music in a business setting, permission must be acquired from the composer or license holder.
Typically, it is possible to obtain a “blanket” license allowing businesses to play music owned by a large catalogue of artists and recording studios. Such licenses can be obtained from Performance Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP or BMI.
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How Do Clowns Make Money?
Clown businesses make their money from the fees collected for their entertainer jobs. Fees will be adjusted based on the hours in attendance and the work being performed. According to reports, most performers charge fees by the hour. To successfully start this business, it’s important you look to see what other performers in your area charge on average for their services.
Fees can range anywhere from $15 to $100, per hour, depending on the job and the services requested. The person or group hiring the performer may be more willing to pay top dollar if they have the financial backing to pay more. These will all vary, depending on the climate for clowns and costumed performers in your area. An average costumed performer in the United States can make around $35,000 per year.
This number will fluctuate, depending on if this is a full or part-time job and what services you can offer your customers. Note that some larger party companies have reported profits exceeding $100,000, annually, although these businesses tend to be multi-faceted. Versatility, then, becomes key and very crucial. But in this industry, you do not need any license or permit to become a professional clown in the United States.
How to Get a Clown License and Become a Professional Clown
The initial costs for starting your own clown business can be very low, with most of your startup money and resources being spent to outfit your business with the proper insurance, reliable transportation, and the basic supplies used for entertaining at parties.
With less attention on the traditional clown makeup and outfits, many performers are able to perform in regular clothes and minimal make-up, relying instead on the acts they perform and talents they put on display. So, if you want to pursue a career in clowning or below are tips to become a convincing and professional clown.
Create a Clown Persona
The first thing you have to do when looking become a professional clown is to create a unique clown Persona you can align with. Get to know your clown’s character. Is your clown persona introverted, noisy, and shy? What kinds of tricks do you want to do as a clown? Note that a shy clown probably would not do showy magic tricks, and a goofy clown probably would not have makeup with fake tears on it.
You have to ensure that your clown has a distinctive character. Have it in mind that a lot of clowns often improvise when they’re onstage; practice your improvisation while you’re exploring your clown’s character. Additionally, clowns have their own names that they use for professional purposes. This name sometimes ends in “o,” such as “Keno” or “Freyo.” Think about your name carefully, because you will use it to market yourself for gigs.
Attend Clown College and join a Professional Clown Organization
Consider spending 8 weeks learning about the process of being a clown. In this college, you will receive training to develop your clowning skills. You will also receive professional development; after the end of the 8 weeks, the college will facilitate your auditions for different circuses, if you would like.
There are also many groups, like the World Clown Association, that you can join since they support aspiring clowns. Explore the resources that a clown organization can offer to you, whether it might be mentorship from an older or more experienced clown or a tutorial on how to do makeup more effectively. Many of these resources are available only to members.
Obtain Clown Accessories
Clowns are known to always have tricks up their sleeves, from balloon animals to card tricks to handkerchiefs for juggling. The aim of clowns is to be funny and also to show different tricks throughout their acts. Whether you want to make balloon animals, juggle, perform magic, mime, or do a comedic routine, your act will ultimately be a performance.
You can also consider humour, especially slapstick humour, when creating your act. When people see clowns, they want to laugh and be entertained. Be sure to try on your wig at the costume shop to make sure it fits. Clowns often have rainbow-coloured wigs. Purchase an outfit that fits your style, and looks a little bit outrageous. Feel free to layer a bright jacket or blazer over your shirt, too. Find one at either a costume shop or a thrift store.
Clowns often wear very bright colours and prints. Choose pants that match your current ensemble. Buy these at a costume shop. Pyjama pants will also work. Note that nothing is too loud or too outrageous for a clown outfit. A typical clown wears enormous shoes that are bright and shiny. Look for a pair of these at a costume shop.
Choose the kind of work you want to Pursue as a Clown
Most clowns in the United States start out in the world of freelancing, but eventually, clowns either focus on freelance work or try to start performing with a circus. You will have to choose which of these options is for you. Do you want to stay in one place to do freelance work, or would you travel with a circus?
Note that freelance clowns enjoy more flexibility in their schedules, but they do need to market themselves extensively so that they keep getting gigs. However, if you are an established circus clown, it may be easier to get more freelance gigs.
You can also choose to join a circus for a couple of years and then settling into freelance work. Meanwhile, circus clowns need to audition and travel with the circus. But unlike freelance clowns, they do receive health benefits. Many people cannot be circus clowns for their entire careers because the travelling is challenging. Circus clowns may do 500 shows in one calendar year.
Practice your Performance for a Small Audience and Market Yourself
Before you go out to explore this field, consider gathering a group of people you know and trust to evaluate your clown performance. If you know any other people who clown, ask them to critique your performance. Take your time and practice your performance as though it is the “real thing” and ask them to write down comments for you on ways to improve it and things that are working well.
Also create business cards with your contact information, clown name, and photo. Write down your specialties, such as birthday parties, magic tricks, or slapstick humour. Make flyers with this information on them and hang them up in public places (such as coffee shops, restaurants, and toy stores).
Clown and costumed performer businesses have traditionally excelled in the United States, with numerous requests for children’s birthday parties and celebrations often accounting for the bulk of the reservations. Nonetheless, traditional clowns have seen less work, due to the shift in perception of clowns from cheery and happy to more ominous and, for some, scary.
A lot of factors can be cited for this societal shift but the bottom line is, the business is experiencing a change in how these performers use their crafts to maintain a decent work schedule.
Note that by expanding the forms of entertainment available in the performer’s repertoire, the clowning business is finding new and exciting ways to bring the spark back to this classic performing profession. With the new changes come more expansion and growth potential. As a performer, the field is ripe for expansion, but needs creative individuals to steer this clown car to the modern events of the new millennium.