Okay, for those of you in the back, he was originally called Doodles the Clown, but there was a misprint on one of his early promotional flyers. Jay Leno of all people mocked the mistake live on air. Not one to turn down free promotion, Doodles became Doo Doo. It’s a perfectly acceptable name for a clown. Stop sniggering.
Doo Doo née Doodles began his career in the clowning arts 35 years ago, after being recruited by a friend to perform at a Toronto hospital.
“I thought ‘you’re crazy,’ but I did it and I had so much fun,” he explained. “He offered me $25 an hour. I thought this is so cool. He did it just to pay his university, I turned it into a life of entertainment. I stuck with it and there isn’t a day I have regretted it ever.”
Doo Doo is likely one of the most famous clowns in the world. Most of you will probably recognize him from his appearance in 1995’s Billy Madison, but he shot to true international fame after he intervened in an assault on two women back in 2015.
His bravery earned him a phone call from Canadian prime Minister, Stephen Harper, a letter from Barack Obama, and television appearances around the world.
Despite planning to be on the road for 180 days this year, Doo Doo made time to once again work the annual Calgary Stampede. This is his twentieth year at the event.
“Parents are just like, ‘I remember you when I came here 20 years ago,” he explained. “‘You were the clown that I came and saw a show.’ So it’s nice. It’s just a beautiful feeling. You know there’s nothing better than to come out to the Stampede and it’s a family celebration.”
There’s a certain type of fiscal conservative unique to the United States that takes great issue with public spending on the arts, and indeed, seems to believe that every government dollar that isn’t spent on road maintenance or predator drones may as well have been shovelled into a great pit and set ablaze.
The latest target of this faux-concern for the taxpayer’s dime is the Circus Center in San Francisco (of course it’s in San Francisco) which claims to be the only school for the Circus arts in the US. The Centre has racked up roughly $175,000 in government funding since the turn of the century. That’s the best part of ten grand a year, the latest instalment of which was in the form of a $10,000 NEA grant in 2017. The money helped fund The Clown Conservatory, “24-week program, taught by master clowns, circus artists, and circus historians.” The course costs a steep $6,000, and includes classes and workshops on slapstick, physical comedy, mime, musicality, props, and other avenues of professional buffoonery .
This wasteful government spending has attracted the ire one Craig Eyermann, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and creator of MyGovCost.org: Government Cost Calculator. To be fair to Eyermann, his concern about wasteful policies and governmental overreach seems non-partisan, but his particular disdain for what he amusingly dubs “clown college,” seems particularly wrong-headed.
Eyremann’s core argument against the grant, which he implies is the strangest thing the government spends money on (it isn’t), is that people just don’t like clowns any more, to wit:
Aside from providing this core program of training for America’s next generation of political leaders, the Clown Conservatory represents taxpayer dollars being wastefully directed to sustain something that the public really doesn’t want. Because if it did, there would be a growing international job market for clowns fed by growing public demand, and there simply isn’t. The evidence for that can be found in the stagnant membership numbers of the World Clown Association, which has consistently counted some 2,400 people in its ranks since 2004.
This would be a compelling point, if the point of arts spending was to produce marketable entertainment products. There’s already a source of funding for popular entertainment, it’s called the free market. Arts grants are literally designed to allow art and culture that might not be financially viable to continue to exist. Indeed, that clowning is a dying art is the exact reason why the government should maybe spend the occasional $10k on keeping it alive. You might not respect clowns or clowning as a performance art, but there’s a long, rich history to it, a history worth preserving. As Circus Center executive director, Barry Kendall, put it when asked why American taxpayers should fund a school for clowns:
Paying taxes is a deeply patriotic act and supporting the preservation and advancement of American culture is one of the patriotic uses of those dollars,” said Kendall. “Circus Center is proud of the unique contributions that our professional clown training program makes to the cultural life of our nation, and we are delighted that Clown Conservatory was recognized through the NEA’s competitive application process.
For your edification, I crunched a few numbers and came to the conclusion that for the price of one predator drone, clown college could produce 4,200 clowns, enough to fill the nation’s clown stockpiles for decades to come. That’s a joke, obviously, and I know I’ve been banging this drum pretty hard throughout this article, but when your country spends well over half its federal budget on defense and that number is likely to go up in the next few years, quibbling about a few clowns in San Francisco being able to have extra soy milk in their lattes seems nothing short of petty.
Ultimately, The Circus Center will always be an easy target for anti arts-spending rants. It’s weird, it’s niche, it’s difficult for the public to relate to, and it lends itself to obvious jokes about politicians graduating from the clown program. In fact, Eyermann liked that joke so much he made it twice. And that’s why we need Clown college, my friends, because any clown worth his oversized shoes will tell you that humour comes in threes.
Last month, a crowd of professional clowns clad in white took to the streets of Acapulco to demand an end to the Mexican resort city’s staggering rates of homicide and violent crime.
Salvador Alarcón Arizmendi, better known as “Noodle of the Watery Soup,” began the march with a speech lamenting the recent violent deaths of two of his fellow clowns, and the spread of crime to the city center, once considered off-limits for gang violence.
While the entire country has seen an increase in violent crime in recent years, largely due to an escalation in gang and cartel activity following police crackdowns, Acapulco has been hit particularly hard. The once glamorous city was a popular holiday destination for the Hollywood elite in the 50’s, but has since been dubbed “Mexico’s murder capital,” due to its 6-year run as the most deadly location in the country.
While tourism has “remained steady,” largely due to plummeting prices attracting less affluent holiday-goers willing to risk their necks for a bargain, the clowns claim that the violence is damaging their livelihood. Bookings for clowns are down by more than 50%. Residents are just too afraid to throw parties, fearing any sign of affluence will attract criminals.
In January, the US state department Travel Advisory began officially advising US citizens not to visit the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco:
“Do not travel due to crime. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travellers. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco.”
Every year on May 25th, hundreds of professional clowns and non-professional merrymakers march through Peru’s capital to mark the anniversary of the passing of José Alvarez Vélez, better known as Tony Perejil, the “clown of the poor.” The BBC had a photographer on the ground to capture this year’s parade.
This year’s parade also had a political element, as several groups of clowns were marching in support of government health care and financial assistance for circus performers.
Check out this BBC feature for more photos from the event. The news outlet also has a few snaps from the 2013 march:
The parade takes place in every year on May 25th in Lima, Peru.
Belgian performer, Kevin Lapeire, better known as Clown Tobi, has been arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, identified only as Caroline D. Police believe he enlisted the help of fellow performer, Deitwin Haegman, known as Dietwin the Yodeller, to help carry out the murder.
Lapeire was taken into custody after an armed standoff in which the famous clown waved a firearm while live-streaming the four-hour encounter on Facebook. He eventually surrendered to the police. Haegeman was arrested shortly after.
According to the police, Lapeire broke into Caroline’s house on Sunday 13th, Mothers Day in Belgium, and murdered her in front of her three children. He’d separated from the 47-year-old a few days earlier, apparently because he didn’t get along with her kids. On a grimly ironic note: Lapeire frequently performed in children’s hospitals as “Doctor Aspirin.”
“I’m no longer a clinic clown but a crimiclown. That’s how I’ll become famous,” he’s reported to have said to the children before murdering their mother.
The sleepy suburb of Scarborough in Perth, Australia, has been rocked by the brazen theft of a large display plant from a local shopping center by a menacing clown. Unwilling to allow this criminal jester’s reign of botanical larceny to continue unabated, the local constabulary has called for anyone with knowledge of this clown prince of crime or his bearded accomplice to come forward. It’s unclear if a reward is being offered at this time.
— Scarborough Police (@ScarboroughPol) May 10, 2018
According to Sergeant Tony Clark of the Scarborough police force, CCTV tracked the nefarious harlequin as he somehow managed to infiltrate the Innaloo Shopping Centre, steal the plant, and escape on his bicycle unchallenged in just five minutes.
“He has come on a bicycle and left it at the entrance to the shops before walking through, taking the pot plant and riding off,” he told the local press.
Should you spot this villainous punchinello, report the encounter to the police immediately, and do not, under any circumstances, smell his flower.
In the late 1940’s, circus and clown enthusiast Stan Bult took up the hobby of painting the likenesses of famous clowns on hard-boiled egg shells. The practice would later be adopted by Clowns International to record its members’ unique facepaint. But while the practice continues to this day – members of Clowns International can get their own egg likeness added to the record for just a tenner plus membership costs – Bult’s original eggs were almost lost to history.
Mattie Faint. a professional clown and curator of the Clowns Gallery-Museum in Daltson, England, spotted the eggs in a clown-themed restaurant when he was a teenager. When the restaurant went under, Clowns International reclaimed the eggs and moved them to another museum, then another. Eventually they ended up at a clowning museum in Wookey Hole. When Faint, now an older man, received a call telling him there was water coming through the wall in the Wookey Hole museum, he had no choice but to hatch a plan to poach the eggs and return them to his own, more secure display.
“I wrapped them each individually in cotton-wool for the journey,” he told the local media.
The eggs are certainly a prize for Faint’s museum. One of them depicts Butch Reynolds a famous clown whose words mark the museum’s entrance:
“Clowning gets into your blood, your looks and your ways, and when people know you’re a clown, they will never take you seriously again.”
The London Clowns Gallery-Museum is housed in the Holy Trinity Church in Dalton, London. It is open the first Friday of the month from midday to 5pm or by appointment.