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Posts Tagged ‘northern ireland’

Clown Shortage

Photo: Pacemaker.
Noeleen and Henrik Fries Neumann on their wedding day in 2017. Clowns are serious about clowning.

One of my brothers performed as a clown for years at his church. In his other life, he was a professor doing research into how the immune system works. The great thing about clowns is how they help you look at things differently. Now that I think about it, that’s what scientific research does, too.

I thought of that brother when I read today’s story about how Covid and Brexit have caused a serious shortage of clowns in Northern Ireland.

In case you haven’t already heard more than enough about Brexit (the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union), you can read up on the Northern Ireland complication at Wikipedia, here.

In a nutshell, Ireland itself is still enjoying all the benefits of being in the EU, but Northern Ireland, since it is part of the UK, has to have special treatment so it can still do a lot of what it used to do — and not reignite friction with its neighbor. Add Covid to that and what you have is a royal mess!

To see the problem in microcosm consider the shortage of clowns.

The BBC reports, “There’s a lot more to being a clown than just putting on a big red nose and a big baggy pair of pants. That’s according to David Duffy, co-owner of Duffy’s Circus, who is appealing for people from Northern Ireland to become clowns.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a shortage of the performers, as many returned to their home countries when the first lockdown came into force in early 2020, according to Mr Duffy.

“But what makes a good clown?

” ‘Someone who’s willing to make themselves vulnerable,’ says Noeleen Fries Neumann, known professionally as Silly Tilly.

” Not everybody likes to be laughed at but for someone who is a clown, your worst nightmare would be to not be laughed at,’ Mrs Fries Neumann told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.

‘You have to be able to poke fun at yourself, it’s not about poking fun at other people.’

“During lockdown, Mrs Fries Neumann and her husband Henrik, who is also a clown known as Jarl, set up a big top circus tent in their garden, allowing them to continue to rehearse and perform.

“The couple first met at an international clown festival, before having a clown themed wedding in 2017.

“[Lockdown] was hard for Mr Duffy and his circus has been closed for more than 500 days. …

” ‘Because all the circuses in Europe and in England have been up and operational for the past six months, that huge pool of EU artists are already back at work and up until last week we haven’t been able to even get visas issued for non-EU artists and entertainers,’ Mr Duffy said.

” ‘That’s why we’re trying to reach out for any of our folks at home who feel that they can give it a go.’

“In order to be a clown, Mr Duffy says you have to be ‘really, really adaptable’ and be able to think on your feet. …

” ‘A clown actually can be the loneliest place because you’re in there on your own and you have to be able to read your audience, in a short couple of minutes you have to be able to get a rapport going with them and interact and feed off them.’

“Aspiring clowns will be performing a short piece during online auditions being held by Mr Duffy as he tries to recruit a new team of performers.” More at the BBC, here.

You know, some of the best clowns in the business worked for Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey circus and attended the company’s clown school in Florida. Now that the circus is out of business, maybe there’s a clown or two who would consider relocating to Northern Ireland. What do you think?

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