Being a professional clown may sound like one of the more unusual and amusing professions. But being a clown is a real job and lots of people do it.
Clowns have been around throughout history, appearing in cultures in different parts of the world. The modern clown is a product of a mixture of different cultures and comedy traditions.
In the UK, the majority of clowns work as private entertainers. In other words, you can be hired for parties, often for children. Years ago, most clowns in the UK worked with circuses. However, these days the number of circuses has declined. In addition, clowns can also be hired for parades and festivals.
What Does a Clown Do
There are several different types of clowns. But what unites them all is the way they work. Clowns are all entertainment performers who use humour and physical comedy to amuse and entertain an audience.
Who Employs Clowns
All clowns are classed as private-sector employees.
In the UK, the majority of clowns work as private entertainers hired for parties, often for children, parades or festivals. Clowns who work in this way will be hired to go to a specified place for a specified period of time. Every commission will usually be separate and not part of a series. These clowns are usually self-employed and can choose when are where they want to work.
Years ago, most clowns in the UK worked with circuses, but these days the number and popularity of circuses has declined. Some circuses still exist. Circuses will also pay people through contracts rather than for one-off events.
Job Salary for a Clown
The average clown salary in the UK is believed to be £50,495. This is based on a recorded minimum of £40,396 and a maximum salary of £65,138.55.
As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of a clown in different parts of the UK. Clowns in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than in other parts of the UK.
However, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) does not collect data on salaries for a clown so there is no official source on clown wage levels.
Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year.
How Often is a Clown Normally Paid
Clowns working as freelancers can normally expect to be paid a fee per commission with a client. This will usually a single fee taking into account the hours worked. It will also reflect the complexity of the commission and the travel time to get there.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Clown
Fee levels are agreed upon between the clown and the client.
What Sort of Contracts Do Postmen Have
Clowns tend to work freelance and be self-employed. This means they will usually not have contracts of employment.
The earnings of clowns are determined by a range of factors including their experience level. Additionally, it will reflect the amount they can charge for performing, and the regularity of their commissions to act as clowns. Periods of unemployment may reduce earnings potential. The best clowns can, however, make a very good living in this profession.
How to Become a Clown
You become a clown by branding yourself as one and developing clowning skills. Clowns are mainly hired as self-employed professionals. In order to make a success of a career as a clown you need to also be prepared to improve your act regularly. In addition, you will need to market yourself effectively.
It is also important that you develop a clown persona which is linked to your own skills and behaviour. The best clowns decide on a unique clown persona that reflects their own personality,
When some clowns start out professionally they might do street performances. Another option is to do free performances at children’s parties. This can help a clown in two ways. Firstly, they will build up a reputation and hopefully encourage people to talk positively about their clowning skills. Secondly, can also act as a useful opportunity to test skills, jokes and tricks with an audience.
Clowns who want to work with a circus usually need to have an audition with a circus before being employed as part of a clown troupe.
Qualifications/Courses to Become a Clown
There is not a set of qualifications available which qualify a person to become a clown. However, some clowns have a background in entertaining. Additionally, you might also have a degree in Performing Arts or Visual Arts.
There is no structured apprenticeship in becoming a clown either. Most clowns, however, undertake a process of continuous improvement. This will often include being mentored or tutored by more experienced clowns at clown skills sessions.
As most clowns are self-employed, business skills are needed. To achieve this some people who become clowns benefit from some training courses related to running a small business. If you do this, the type of skills a self-employed clown will require include:
- Marketing and promotion.
- Basic bookkeeping and financial billing.
- Time planning and journey planning.
Continuous Improvement for Clowns
The best clowns need to always be on a journey of self-improvement. To do this you must be able to self-analyse to work out how and where your clown acts and gags might not be working or can be improved in some way.
Clown skills sessions also exist. These are delivered through clown networks by experienced clowns who have learnt to share their skills and improve the abilities of other clowns.
Joining an organisation like the World Clown Association may also be beneficial to clowns.
General Skills Required to be a Clown
- Excellent interpersonal skills.
- Strong ability to read an audience and work with a room.
- Excellent sense of humour.
- Readiness to self-analyse to work out how and where your clown acts and gags might not be working or can be improved in some way.
- Ability to empathise with others, including children, and calm difficult situations.
- All clowns need the ability to ad-lib and improvise when necessary, including being able to handle hecklers and other difficult situations calmly and professionally.
- Good sense of balance and physical skills.
- Some basic ability to do magic tricks and work with balloons to make animals and other balloon representations.
- Preparedness to commit time to practice tricks and gags.
- The creativity required to update and improve clowning routines.
- Desire to work at weekends or in the evening – the working hours of a clown are definitely not 9 to 5.
- Listen to the person booking you and any specific requests they have. This could be to include card tricks or small animals. It might also be to make sure you avoid some aspect of clowning that could make your audience nervous. It is important to make sure you incorporate these requests into the act you perform.
- Ability to travel to events and commissions if working privately as a clown.
- If part of a circus, readiness to work away from home for long periods as the circus moves around the country and, possibly, internationally.
- Good time-keeping and planning skills are essential. This is because you need to ensure you reach events in good time. Additionally, you will need to be able to change clothing and add the necessary make-up and props.
- Ability to add your own clown make-up.
- A wide clown wardrobe and the ability to repair clown costumes are useful.
Additional Professional Skills
- The ability to market and promote yourself is essential. This is because you will need to attract potential commissions and business.
- Some First aid and CPR certification might be necessary. This will depend on your act and potential audience.
- A clean Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is required for people who wish to work as clowns. This is because you will be expected to entertain children.
Types of Clown
There are many different types of clowns including:
- Whiteface Clowns: Traditional clowns with iconic white face makeup and brightly coloured costumes.
- Circus Clowns: Circus clowns are clowns that perform in a circus setting. These usually have whiteface make-up too.
- Character Clowns: Dressed as specific characters, such as a cowboy or a tramp/hobo.
- Mime Clowns: Mime clowns use the art of pantomime to entertain audiences. They dress in black and white clothing. Additionally, their act uses exaggerated movements to tell a story without words.
- Tramp Clowns: Tramp clowns are clowns that are based on the traditional hobo or tramp character. They often wear tattered clothing. Additionally, tramp clowns use slapstick humour to entertain audiences.
Challenges of Being a Clown
- You must be able to work solo.
- Remaining creative and generating new material.
- As with any self-employed person, there may be periods of unemployment.
- Need to do a lot of marketing and promotion to be a success.
- Maintaining a positive, humorous and entertaining persona in public.
- Readiness to travel in search of work.
- Clowns must have the ability to work with a range of clown materials. For example, this can include balloons and balloon pumper for making balloon animals. You might also use handkerchiefs for juggling, along with silk scarves and cards. Additionally, some clowns specialise in magic tricks.
- A readiness to self-analyse is also essential in a clown. This is needed because you must try and refresh or improve your clowning acts.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
The type of people who make good clowns are those with strong artistic temperaments who like working with people. Additionally, creativity is absolutely essential. An extroverted and enthusiastic personality is required in a clown. Having said that, these features would generally be true of any people working professionally as entertainers.
Personality tests on people working as clowns stress their openness, extraversion and agreeability.
Being a clown can be personally and emotionally enriching. If you are driven by a desire to entertain others and a readiness to please, it could be the job for you.
General Expected Working Hours
A clown must have the desire to work at weekends or in the evening. In other words, the working hours of a clown are definitely not 9 to 5.
Because of the nature of the job, some people work part-time as clowns. As a result, they only accept commissions outside their normal working hours in another profession.
Location of Work
In the UK, the majority of clowns work as private entertainers hired for parties. These parties are often for children. These clowns can also be hired for parades and festivals. Clowns who work in this way will accept direct commissions to go to a specified place for a specified period of time. These clowns are usually self-employed and can choose when are where they want to work.
The growth of corporate events is a trend that is seeing increasing popularity among businesses. As a result, sometimes these events hire clowns as entertainment. Clowns who break into this market can make good money because it often pays well. But a clown will also need to remember to update their act for the new audience. Remember too that a corporate event is very different from a children’s party.
As the demand for clowns grows in this area, professionals will need to develop new skill sets. This is in order to meet the needs of their clients. This may include learning how to work with other entertainers, such as dancers and musicians. It can also mean developing new types of entertainment, such as games or activities.
Years ago, most clowns in the UK worked with circuses, but these days the number and popularity of circuses has declined. However, a small number of clowns are still employed in circuses. Any clowns working in circuses must be prepared to travel wherever the circus is booked to appear.
The future career prospects of clowns are linked to how effectively you are able to make a success of clowning. Top clowns command a high income.
Some clowns also have the opportunity to work as clown instructors. They teach other aspiring clowns the art of clowning and help them improve their skills.