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Clown College

It used to be that every person who dreamed of becoming a clown also dreamed of attending the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College. For 30 years Clown College taught the basics -- how to apply your clown makeup, how to take a pie thrown at your big clown nose, and to fall down without hurting yourself.


Clown College was the brainchild of  Irvin Feld. In 1968, the clown profession seemed to be dwindling and -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus had only a dozen clowns, most of them getting older by the day.  Irvin Feld wanted to make sure there were clowns well into the future. 


So the college directors held auditions at colleges and theatres around the country. Hundreds of would-be clowns showed their stuff .


The competition was intense. Only 30 new clowns were accepted into each year's class.


There, they donned large shoes and baggy pants to learn about makeup, juggling and the fine art of falling down. They took classes in stilt-walking, gymnastics, juggling,  and mime.


The classes were free and the best of the graduates took their large clown shoes  on the road with the Greatest Show on Earth.


But the Clown College became a victim of its own success.  In 1998, there were about over a thousand  trained clowns and there was  little danger of the profession dying out.  So Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus decided to stop offering eight-week introductory classes in funny stuff in Sarasota, Florida.


But what's an aspiring clown going to do today ?


Once choice is today's version of Clown College. It lives on in the educational initiatives of three nationally-touring units of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Here, the next generation of circus clowns learns the skills and traditions: character development, improvisation, makeup,  gag development, prop and costume construction, acrobatics, dance and the physical skills of slaps and falls, stilt-walking, unicycling, juggling and much more.


And another choice is that some of the graduates of previous Clown College classes have taken on the task of teaching the new generation of clowns on with Clowns Schools, all over the world.


So check out the hyperlink of Clown Schools. There we have listed the active Clown Schools that teach the newest generation of clowns.