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September 4, 2012 > Counseling Corner: Cool Jobs in the Tri-City Area

Counseling Corner: Cool Jobs in the Tri-City Area

A Professional Clown

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

How would you like to have a job where you get to clown around all day long? Well, Lori Carr, a.k.a. Peek a Boo the Clown (www.entertainment-bayarea.com), gets to do precisely that. She is a professional clown in the Tri-City area who makes her living by clowning. But be assured that she takes her job very seriously.

Carr has been a professional clown in the Tri-Cities since 1999. Before she became a clown, she had other more conventional jobs at a couple of high profile Bay Area companies where she was given opportunities to create events offsite. She enjoyed this aspect of her corporate work so much that it got her thinking of a possible future career in the entertainment business. It could also have been that it was her destiny to be clown since she was considered to be the class clown in school. Says Carr, "I have always loved children and not having children of my own, this worked out as a career and as a form of a personal fulfillment."


Here's what Carr has to say about life as a clown:

Q: What is a typical day like in your job?
Carr: A typical clown day starts with packing my big apron full of balloons and my other clown gear. It is also very important to have my face painting materials packed and brushes clean for each party. I also pack my boom box with appropriate music and my magic show ready to go. The magic show is really the best part of what I do. It engages everyone and the adults like it as well. I usually get everyone's attention with a few funny riddles before I start the show and I end with an interactive game and a small prize for all the kids. I pack small and play big!

A day in the office may include speaking with clients and learning about their party needs. I need to know how many children they are expecting, if their party is at their home, park, club house or a restaurant. Or, if the event is a company picnic or another type of event. It all factors into the price and time needed to appropriately accommodate the event needs. Sometimes, I will book out other entertainers to enhance an event as well. I book out many entertainers through my company and they are all extremely talented and entertaining! Our Bay Area is full of talented entertainers!


Q: What are the best things about being a professional clown?
Carr: One of the best things about my line of work is that I can really be myself. My work not only brightens my day but I have the ability to brighten others' days as well. I have the satisfaction of running my own business my way. I have the best boss ever, me!


Q: What are the worst things about being a professional clown?
Carr: Well, the worst thing about being a clown I guess is that some people just do not like clowns. I have adjusted my clown appearance to be what is typically called "clown light" which means I wear very little clown make-up. Also, in the summer it can get pretty hot working in the sun.


Q: What kind of training does it take to become a professional clown?
Carr: The skills in demand for a professional clown in the Bay Area are face painting, magic shows, and balloon twisting, not to mention remembering jokes and riddles. It is important to bring the clown character to life - it's transformation inside and out. Over the years I have perfected my skills and I continue to learn more and create new and interesting things to bring to my audience. Since I have repeat costumers every year, it's always a challenge to bring new things to my clients. But I love what I do and it is a joy to work on my skills.

It is always important to continue upgrading skills through networking with friends, attending conventions and workshops and such. There is a clown club meeting every month in San Jose and once in a while there is a convention, sometimes locally or in another state. About two times yearly there is a balloon convention usually in Las Vegas or Arizona. The balloon conventions also include face painting and/or magic classes. They are really fun and they also have a balloon sculpture contest and it is amazing what some artists come up with. There are also magic conventions located around the country and often many of these are located in Las Vegas. One of the best ways to learn the craft of doing a magic show is to work with a local magician or visit a magic store. Practice, practice, practice! That is really the trick to creating a good and funny magic show. Use your imagination and creativity and be yourself.


Q: What advice do you have for someone wishing to go into a similar profession?
Carr: You must love children first! Also you must have a passion to learn these skills. It takes time and is also an investment since you need supplies to get started. I began training as a clown in 1998 and it took about nine months before I did my first clown gig. The start up costs to become a clown can be quite expensive. Balloons, face painting kits, brushes, magic, costuming, and clown shoes, socks, clown noses, can really add up!

Like starting any business it can be expensive. However, you can be creative and create a costume from almost nothing. I twist a lot of balloons and the cost runs over $100 or more a month. The face painting kits, glitter and brushes can start out around $80. There are face painting workshops in the Bay Area that usually cost around $75 for the workshop. Magic supplies can run into the hundreds of dollars depending on the show you want to do. And don't forget trying to advertise and finding agents to book you out! This is a labor of love. You have to be dedicated to your craft and believe in yourself that this career is for you. It is expensive to start out but the reward is great! Many clowns work in hospitals and do not get paid for their services. Many clowns have their reward in making others laugh and smile and are a source of healing and helping others through difficult times in their lives. Love and laughter is the true heart of a caring clown.


Q: What are things that people might not realize that are involved in being a clown?
Carr: Besides being a "fun" person you must also be a very good business person. There is a lot of paperwork, phone work, advertising, and more to running a successful entertainment agency.


Q: What are your thoughts about working in the Tri-Cities area?
Carr: This is a fabulous area to work as a clown. There are so many different cultures that put a high value and love on their children and won't hesitate to give them the best birthday parties. This area also has a healthy corporate environment that also offers entertainers a lot of business.


Q: What are the best and worst jokes or comments you've heard about your profession?
Carr: I am often asked if I am a real clown. I usually reply, "Are you a real kid?"


For all of you aspiring to be a clown, Carr has these words of advice: "You must be outgoing, fun loving, patient, and adapt too many situations. And of course, YOU MUST LOVE KIDS! Also, if you think its easy money, it's certainly is not. If you're not dedicated to constantly honing your skills this job is not for you."

Sounds like very smart career advice, even if it does come from a clown!


Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find maximum satisfaction in their careers and relationships. She can be reached at www.annechanconsulting.com or 510-744-1781. If you or someone you know has a cool, unique, and interesting job in Hayward, Milpitas or the Tri-City area, please contact her.

(c) Anne Chan, 2012

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