Make-up, costumes and make-up OH MY

Posted on Aug 7, 2006

Here are my opinions on clown makeup and faces. I started out as an auguste and have never tried to be anything else. I tried tramp makeup both years I was at Moosecamp and while I enjoyed it both times my character doesn’t really fit the bill as a sad tramp or happy hobo, maybe hyper hobo but that is a different story. As I look back on my seven years of clowning I notice many differences in what my clown face and views on clowning have changed.

When I started out I tried to be the clown that Creative Clowning wanted me to be. I took that book to be “the” course in clowning. I started at chapter one and followed it all the way through. I learned almost every skill in that book within the first 4 months of my career. In doing this I became a Joey of all trades, master of none. Also during this time I worked and worked on my makeup. I had done theatre all through high school and since I started clowning my senior year my drama teachers helped me with the technical side of makeup. Looking at pictures from my first year of clowning I wonder what I was thinking. I was scary I just didn’t know it.

So I went to Moosecamp ‘99 and it is a good thing I did. Originally I was going to partake in the circus course with Frosty Little. But on arriving and seeing the caliber of clowns that where there I paniced and instead took clowning 101. In clowning 101 I was able to learn how to do clown makeup not stage makeup. I went from being a very harsh outlined clown face to a more natural looking soft face. And by natural I mean for a clown.

At Moosecamp I also got my first wig\skullcap and Moosburger costume. I bough my costume off the rack and it was what I wanted my character to be not what it has turned into. I think that all new clowns should understand that a clown character is never what you expect it to be. Most people I talked to at Moosecamp said that they act more subdued out of clown and are zany in their clown. For me this was the opposite. I suffer from ADHD, which means I am off the wall all the time and have a hard time focusing on concrete things in my day-to-day life. However when I am in clown I am calm, quiet and subdued.

Anyway back to makeup. After I left Mooscamp in ‘99 my make up stayed about the same with subtle little changes to eyebrow shape and lips. Then Moosecamp 2000 I took the hospital clown class and learned a whole new makeup design with the help of Joe Barney. Once I learned this light version of my hospital makeup I decided to work on a light version of my regular auguste. To me that meant first getting rid of the base auguste color and then about two years ago I stopped using makeup all together and just went out wearing my nose. So I went from full makeup every time to no makeup no wig in two years.

Well, about a year ago I started focusing on a different type of clowning, which I call street clowning. Street clowning was inspired by a combination of David Blaines “Street Magic” shows and the movie “Rize”. Basically it consists of taking the clowning to the people rather then waiting for the people to come to you. Once I started focusing on that I realized that part of being a clown was the makeup. I figured that if I was going to bring entertainment to the street I need a persona to match. So off I was searching for a character.

I started by trying to find an edgy wig. I tried a modified grinch wig and a new nose. After I got both of those I tried a new makeup. It was ok but it lacked the expressiveness of my old face and I thought that the wig was too bright and evil looking to fit the persona I wanted. After trying three or four faces I just decided to try my old face again. I was hooked again. I remembered how expressive it was and how it fit my face. It just goes to show that a good clown face is like a glove.

Costume wise I was still using my first Mooseburger costume and since I paid so much for it I felt I still needed to use it. That lasted about 4 weeks. I ordered a custom costume from Mooseburger figuring the expense was worth the quality and fit. After a few mishaps and misunderstandings on my part I received my costume. It fits how I want it to and works well with my clown. It allows for great movement and still looks big.

Depending on the event I have multiple costumes that I wear ranging from my main “agent” suit to a Salvation Army blue vest\pants combo. I find that no matter when and where I am performing I never get so hot that I am uncomfortable. I find that I get a better response when I am all decked out in full clown gear then when I dumb down my clown by opting out of a wig or part of my costume for my comfort. I believe that if you are willing to entertain people then you need to go all or go home. I realize that this isn’t for everyone but I feel that to give my best I need to look my best and have thought out every part of my costume.

For instance wigs: if your clown normally wears a wig, not having it on so you can just wear a baseball cap seems like the easy way out. I admit less then a year ago I did the same thing and though I don’t know if anyone else cared I did. I felt out of character and out of place.

With make up: I understand the idea of the light makeup, I think that it is great if you have skin problems or have a hard time putting on makeup due to arthritis or other injuries. However, if you do a light makeup make it look good, don’t just quickly do muzzle and eyes and be done, take the same amount of time as you would doing full makeup so even though you are light. -

Costume wise: make sure that your costume fits where it needs to fit and allows you to do the things that you need to do. Almost more important then that make sure you are wearing what your clown would wear. For instance my character is loosely based on Inspector Clouseau from the original Pink Panther series. I am a lucky incompetent, who miraculously gets by without hurting himself. So my costume is pants, a vest and a really short long tie. I am also wearing a hat that I have had for years that gives me the P.I. look.