Did you know there was such a thing as Clown College? Yep – and it isn’t confined to one place, either.
Sweetcakes, who does not want her real name published had been clowning for seven years before attending World Clown Association, which occurs in different states and countries every year.
“I taught myself magic, balloon art, face painting art, designing in many areas and writing fun, clean personalized comedy roasts,” said Sweetcakes, a Fort Wayne resident who teaches many of the Sweetcakes Entertainment classes.
“More adult guys have asked to drive my mini model T motorized clown car than kids – one guy offered to wear my clown wig and lipstick if he could drive it.”
Sweetcakes goes for the giggles, and in school gymnasiums, the laughter is, “so loud it almost sounds like a jet. Another time a lady was laughing so hard she wet her pants – luckily, the party was at her house so she changed quickly but she made me stop the show so she didn’t miss anything.
“It’s great to do what one loves for a living and give other artists the opportunity to share their artistry as well. As a fun ‘thank you’ we give away a dinner for two to a Fort Wayne restaurant every week on our Facebook page.”
Deb Sorg, alias Daisy May Flutter-bye, has been in the business 28 years.
“I went to Clown School through Smiles Unlimited,” said Sorg, a Fort Wayne resident who has been going to clown conferences and helping with clown classes. “At clown conferences, we learn about new hospital regulations, which patients we can and cannot touch, new balloon animals, magic, facial expressions and spirituality.”
San San the clown, aka Sandy Collins, went into the business feeling she could be serving God by making others laugh. A member of Fellowship of Christian Magicians, she learned ventriloquism, ballooning, how to put makeup on, story-telling, puppetry and how to be a hospital clown.
“My greatest and first time being a clown was my mother’s 90th birthday party,” recalled Collins. “She was so excited that we had made clown dolls for the tables. I made my first appearance and joined the other clowns for the first time. We worked well together and my mother didn’t recognize me at first.
“The challenging aspect is performing through family problems, such as illness, death and just life in general. That makes it hard to put that makeup and smile on your face. Once outside your home, the make-up and smile have to be real. As I get ready, I pray for those I will be seeing and for the wisdom to be sensitive to them. When I put the white grease paint on, it is death to the person I am and I need to get past anything bothering me. When I put the colors on, I become a new person – San San. The smile is not just painted on my face; I want it to show in my actions, my eyes and in my character.”
Shirley Maisonneuve, alias Breezy, went to clown school for three months at High Hopes, a division of Smiles Unlimited. She is taking her act to Port Charlotte, Fla., when she moves there soon. Her clowning is mostly for adults in hospitals and nursing homes and she aims to make folks forget their problems by singing songs that are not exactly dirty, “but a little dusty,” she says.
“In Parkview Hospital one day, my co-clown San San was with me and when I started singing ‘I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore,’ unbeknownst to me, my costume was falling off. Fortunately, San San was behind me and when she stopped laughing, she tied me up – my top had come undone and I didn’t know because I couldn’t tell with the big collar and everything on.
“If we can make a patient smile for one or two minutes, they don’t think about their problems, and that’s worth it to us. When we did the hospital, no matter how bad the day, there was always one person who thanked us over and over for being there.”
Collins, who admitted to being moved by the Clown’s Prayer, especially liked the closing lines: “And Lord, in our final moment / May we hear You whisper: “When you made my people smile / you made me smile.”