No more clowning around


Send in the clowns: A group of clowns walking around the Sia Boey Urban Archaeological park in George Town. Although there are only a few gigs at present, these entertainers remain positive about the future. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The reopening of schools and other sectors during the recovery movement control order (MCO) has drawn smiles across the nation.

However, these are “sad” days for clowns who are facing far greater troubles than keeping their red noses stuck to their face masks.

In Penang, clowns are out of work, due mainly to the nature of their job and the lack of large-scale events being organised.

“Jennifer the Clown”, the managing director of Dummy Dumb Dumb Entertainment, said his company has had zero business since the start of the MCO on March 18.

“We have had no shows at all. The clown service is a want, not a need.

“Clowns also rely a lot on interaction, which is difficult at this time, ” said Jennifer, 37.

He said Kuala Lumpur saw a brief re-emergence of clowns in events in early July but business dried up after increased warnings of fines and summonses over adherence to the standard operating procedure (SOP).

Penang is home to about four major clown groups but the majority of the clowns in the state are freelancers who are hired on a gig by gig basis.

“Cream Puff”, a full-time secondary school teacher, said clowning around allowed her to release her alter ego.

“As a teacher, you have to be prim and proper but as a clown, you can be free and do whatever you like!”

“These last few months (not being able to clown), I’ve felt an emptiness, like something is missing, ” she said.

“Cream Puff”, along with freelance clowns “Harley” and “Vico Milo”, all in their early 30s, have used their newfound free time at home to exercise, dabbling in tabata workout, TikTok and yoga.

“I was supposed to get married in May but that got postponed because of the pandemic.

“I miss being a clown and making kids smile and seeing a line of kids waiting for a balloon, ” said “Vico Milo”, who is a full-time production planner for a shipping company.

“Jam”, 27, a full-time technical assistant, has picked up impressive crochet skills in her downtime, producing two adorable teddy bears that have been added on to her clown costume.

True to their cheerful clown characters, all are remaining positive about the future, even “Jennifer” who has been hit hardest.

As a full-time clown and magician, “Jennifer” has been completely out of work for five months and counting, but continues to be upbeat, focusing on charitable work and offering free non-clown-related counselling.

“I’ve had some surprises, like a friend appearing at my door with 10 packets of Hokkien mee or people just banking money into my account to help.

“I’m busy at home, gardening, painting my house on my clown stilts, learning to be a handyman from YouTube and I’ve also learned how to sweep the floor!

“God has taken care of me and I feel at peace, ” he added.

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