Romance of the Red Nose

Fall 1976: Clown College, Ringling Arena, Venice, FL
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


It was a perfect picture of a school for clowns. Jugglers passed clubs, the glossy colors catching the Florida sun, while acrobats took turns doing flips on the grass. A gal in a purple leotard slid one foot, then the other, along a rope she’d strung between two palm trees. A kid in a Hawaiian shirt rolled on a unicycle, his legs churning down the sidewalk past the Venice Villas, our home for two months. In and out of courtyards stretched between a swimming pool and the Gulf of Mexico, 60 of us formed and reformed groups like mercury on a plate. Everybody was everybody’s buddy. A guy emerged from his room in clown makeup, and talked about circus with the kind of detailed knowledge that I’d seen in theater fanatics. Should I know this stuff? Did clowns have a secret handshake? With a joy buzzer? My roommate Bruce, with frizzy hair and glasses, sat on top of his brown van, strapping on home-made stilts and grinning. When he grinned, which he did a lot, his cheeks puffed out and his teeth pushed forward, making him look like a cheery chipmunk. Grinning, he said “Isn’t this great!” It was.


Palm Tree Sewing Machine German Accent Black Curtain Secret Handshake 
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© David Carlyon 2016

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