Improv Corner – FEATURE – Are We Clowns?

I was watching a video the other day of someone dressed as a clown and not really sure what to do with themselves and you could tell that they felt awkward being dressed as one. One thing that this person said in the footage was that they felt like they were doing something similar to improv. I watched this and felt very protective of improv all of a sudden and was like ‘no it is not’ but when we think about it – are improvisers really like clowns?

I came across a really interesting blog post by Hoopla Impro that actually discusses this and the differences and the similarities of clowning and improv and it is a really interesting read. Steve goes on to talk about the fact that in improv the scene partner is the most important aspect but in clowning the audience is vital in welcoming them in. Eye contact  with the audience is something that is really important where as with improv isn’t always the case. I am not going to spill into depth as to what it says and you can read it on the link above but it makes a lot of great arguments. This is one of my favourite quotes:

“Clown is played almost entirely in the world of failure, with loads of the laughs coming from watching someone on the brink of their capabilities…” – Hoopla 

From reading this article I learnt a lot about the world of Clowning and whilst I agree with a lot it says there are still areas that make me concerned as to whether us, as improvisers are ‘clowns.’

I personally think that we are not, however we can learn a lot form the world of the art form and their skills to maybe up our improv capabilities especially in the world of Short Form improv.

If I had come across this article before I started this article then you could of been reading something completely different. That one comment though I saw on film rushes though really bugged me and still plays with my mind, I think it is because a non improviser said it and was sort of stereotyping.

The reason I am fighting against this comparison about improv being similar to clowns because in recent news there has been debate that the art form is dying and is something that is not in fashion anymore. There was a debate on Good Morning Britain over the summer as to whether Clowns are a dying trend and as to whether they are a dying art form.

There was a side for and against and the woman against was saying that they are outdated, produce phobias and produce negative stereotypes in this modern day and age. The clown who was from Clowns International argued against this and felt that they are ever re-inventing themselves such as Circ Du-soliel to stand out in this day and age and to be more popular then they ever have been. The Twitter poll by audience showed that 85% of people would not book a clown anymore.

I like to think that whilst clowning has many skills that are transferable, that it is totally different to improv. There are many that believe that the comedy form is outdated where are improv is really just getting its wheels in motion. By the minute, improv is becoming more and more commercial and I do not feel it is a dying art form, instead I feel that it is only just really beginning as so many acts are reinventing and redefining what the comedy format is that there is no slowing down the improv scene yet.




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