Friday, June 18, 2010

'So... who wants to help the big scary clown?'

In my never ending quest to find cheap (or preferably FREE) things to do to fill the time in between working and not working (the latter of which is becoming increasingly frequent as my hours get cut), my friends and I went to the first day of the street performance world championships in Merrion Square this afternoon. Its free in all weekend, and I used to go every year in my younger days. Unfortunately, there wasn't much going on today - most of the acts seem to be on Saturday on Sunday, ironically the two days I do work. Grr. But I remember previous years that have been quite entertaining, you can get some really good acrobatics and fire shows and jugglers and the likes - and hey, its free. Its nice weather and if you've nothing else to do, its not a bad way to while away the afternoon. If you can stand the heaps of screaming, face painted children with monstrously sized balloon animals that is.

However, the one thing I never liked was crowd participation - it terrifies me. There was one particular guy who seemed to make it his mission to involve every single audience member there was in any way possible, even if it was just getting them to stand up and wave. No. No, no, no, not for me. Even as a child I would hide behind my mother's leg to avoid such activities, and I put this all down to one particularly scarring incident that involved a clown.

I don't even remember where I was - I think it was my cousin's birthday but I'm not actually too sure. I was about five anyway, and a hired children's entertainer was there to keep us occupied, and he gathered us into a group for fun and games. Childhood memories are often hazy, but I clearly recall that he was dressed as a clown.

Whyyy do these people insist on dressing as clowns?! Honestly, I find nothing scarier!


So we get into groups for some sort of game, and the clown asks for vounteers from each group. Shy little kiddies that we seemingly were, no one volunteered, so he picked three people, myself being one, and started doing some sort of magic trick. My job - my only job - was to hold a large jug of water. The rest of the story is a little mishmashed (I think I did my best to block it all out), but he pulled something out of his sleeve - you would expect it to be a big long hanky! But noooo, it was an extremely realistic looking (to a five year old anyway) SNAKE, and suddenly this big clown turns to me and lunged at me with it! Being a teeny wee thing I screamed, dropped the jug of water all over  myself, and then started crying.

So obviously everyone starts laughing cos I've made a fool out of myself, ruined the trick, and it looks like I've wet my pants. Cue a life time of therapy to fix this traumatising childhood nightmare (well I might be being a tad dramatic there but you get me).

So ever since, my motto when it comes to volunteers is don't make eye contact ... if you can't see him he can't see you!


  1. I'm a firm fan of the avoiding eye contact policy. Sometimes its nice that they want to involve audience members, but I've come across a lot of performers that just make fun of them when they're standing up there. Its particularly traumatising for kids!

  2. Yeah, its all fun and games til the mentally scarred child starts to cry!