Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Was Chaplin a (good) clown? - circus clowns reply in 1929

I just came across this by chance. Some of the top circus clowns in France, in 1929, giving their opinion on Chaplin and whether he was a clown or not, soon after the release of his film ‘The Circus’.

Here some of the replies given in interviews at the Cirque Médrano, published in an article in the magazine Cinémonde (no. 17; 14th February 1929). (It seems like it's not just today that clowns are overly critical of each other.)

Porto: “I was disappointed. First, let me say that the Americans don’t understand circus… The clown doesn’t exist for them. Charlie did know the circus well. That’s undeniable. But he undoubtedly sought to please his compatriots. He conformed to their tastes. As Charlie Chaplin is an old circus artist, a music hall artist…. I thought Charlie would be more daring. Wasn’t he more of a clown in other films? I loved him in his role as bank teller. As he is a true clown, and I can see him in our place in the circus. he has the physical play like Footit had… He is a conjuror. He is an acrobat. You can see he was a clown, as he can play pantomime. “

Cairoli: “I don’t think he’s a clown. he knew the circus well, but I think he couldn’t do all that we do. In the cinema, it’s easier to make people laugh. If you do a bad take, you cut a few metres of film or you do it again. With us, you can’t erase a single gesture. You have to be at all times, unfailingly amusing. And that, I can tell you, is very difficult.”

Francois Fratellini: “Certainly, Charlie Chaplin is a clown. He was one a long time before becoming The Little Tramp in the cinema. I remember seeing him at the Olympia. He was with the Karno troupe then. He took all the slaps that weren’t intended for him, and retreated offstage, form where he bombarded his fellows with al kinds of objects. … I don’t like tis film. I found Charlie a lot funnier in other films. There was more fantasy. No doubt, he posses all the qualities which make a good clown. It’s just that his job is easier. His jokes in front of the camera don’t have to work first time. Despite that, Charlie is for me a good clown. But a clown I’d like to see in the middle of a real circus.”

Friday, 29 June 2018

Does anyone want to be an actual clown?

I was recently asked to collaborate in a photographic project documenting the supposed ‘decadence of clowning in western culture’. My response was to ask, ‘what decadence?’ I have been involved in clowning performance, teaching and research since the mid-1980s and from my perspective there is a continuous stream of people interested in training in clowning and performing it, as well as in exploring its social use beyond the orthodox set-up of performer/spectator and into the realms of healthcare and politics. Clowning has also gained a modest recognition in academic circles, with the publication of a range of books over the past couple of decades.

But my instinct to see the positive trend in clowning is also counter-balanced by my concern about the direction clowning is taking in western culture. Barnaby King, in his recent book. ‘’Clowning as Social Performance in Colombia’, wrote tellingly about how the influx into the country of an ‘international style’ of clowning, from Europe via Argentina, could be read as paralleling the ‘apertura’, or opening up to global markets, of Colombia. This ‘globalised’ style of clowning might even threaten local and indigenous ways of understanding the artform, which is of concern.

I witnessed something similar during my return visit to South Africa some months ago, when a major theatre festival programmed, for the first time, a piece of ‘clown theatre’. A laudable move, indeed. But the piece was an unfortunate, and perhaps isolated, example, of how safe clowning has sometimes become. It could have originated in any part of Europe or North America. But its seeming lack of insights, whether personal, political, cultural or aesthetic, nonetheless drew considerable approval from middle-class white audiences who would normally go to see standard theatrical fare. I felt like we could have been anywhere - London, Paris, Bogotá. This is a far cry from the classic example of South African clown-influenced theatre from the 1980s, 'Woza Albert!' (see photo)

This blandness was nowhere to be seen, however, when workshopping clowning with Sowetan teenagers, who, when asked to ‘do something silly to make us laugh’, would come up with the most outlandish, grotesque and daft things imaginable, setting everyone off in bursts of uncontrollable laughter. Back in London, one just has to imagine presenting audiences with that kind of clowning to quickly realise that the most common reaction would be to back off. In my experience, the grotesque in clowning is getting harder and harder to pull off, in our society where ‘taste’ means seeking out yet more uncrossable lines which clowns should stay clear of.

My other work in South Africa was with Clown Without Borders, who in that country are different in that they work extensively within their own country. Elsewhere in the world, it is more common for CWB projects to be expeditions travelling some distance across the globe. Many of these projects do great things, but a side-effect can sometimes be the inadvertent exportation of the western idea of what a clown is.

The multiplication of distancing might explain in some way the drift from clowning towards stand-up which is another concern right now. It’s probably always been the case that British clown students and performers have been tempted by the culturally dominant magnets of irony, sarcasm and wit, but lately it seems like it’s getting harder to resist. With performers with little or no clown-factor now boldly advertising themselves as clown-influenced Gaulier graduates, it looks like the picture is going to get even more confused. Does anyone still want to be a clown?

Friday, 22 June 2018

ClownBlog is back

I’m returning to blogging, as a way of bypassing the academic model, which has frankly become a bit of a dead end lately, with its jealously guarded sites of knowledge exchange - accredited modules, peer-reviewed journals, niche conferences - becoming ever more ponderous and exclusive. That doesn't mean I'll be stopping teaching at universities, speaking at academic conferences, or publishing books, but am looking forward to a more open-ended medium through which I can communicate. 

The return to blogging also marks perhaps the end of a very productive few years of engagement with Facebook, through the group Clown Theory which I created a few years ago.  I was curious then to know others’ opinions on matters I was grappling with. It’s gone relatively quiet recently, mainly I think because we’ve ended up having the same conversations and debates several times over. Also, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It can be daunting entering an online discussion sometimes, where even clowns can come across as bossy, dismissive or knowalls. The blog might be my way to fill the gap, then.

It might prove useful for mulling over things which will later find their way into books. It will also allow me to bring to light more immediately some of the fascinating insights which occur weekly in my work. These insights can crop up in a clown class, in a rehearsal or in a performance or while reading about or watching other clowns. I have always felt that theory, thinking, teaching, learning, performing and spectating are one single activity. I hope, then, to bring the thinking out into the open for those who haven’t been in those classes or rehearsals. Perhaps that will help some people decide to go deeper into clowning and do some, or more, training, or even just watch a show. That would be good.

It’s been a few years since I regularly wrote short or medium length pieces about clowning. I began ClownBlog to test out some ideas when I started my job as a research fellow at CSSD in 2007, investigating clown and actor training. Much of those blog posts later fed into my first book, Clown Readings, and influenced the second one too, Clown Training. I then got caught up in writing my PhD thesis, and a third book, The Clowning Workbook, currently under way. 

Although I have always continued to generate my own teaching and performance work, during that time I became accustomed to the academic model of writing/practice. That is to say, academic employees in the performing arts are expected these days to produce research outputs in order to justify their posts. This is because of the vast amount of money that universities receive for research, the amount of which is determined by how far up the league table (REF), they get, every seven years. To gain their position they must show research outputs. Since the early 2000s, in the performing arts we have realised that we hold knowledge, in the practices we engage in. So that research doesn’t have to be in a library or written. Knowledge can be gained and transmitted through the practice of performance. A simple and early example often given was the knowledge I have from having learned to ride a bicycle. This is embodied knowledge. The research of such knowledge has come to be known as Practice-as-Research (PaR). Quite a simple idea, really.

Many drama schools, incorporating themselves into universities and thus enabling grants to be given to students, thus found themselves obliged to produce research. But instead of drawing on the knowledge and practices of those who taught and practiced acting, directing, writing and stagecraft, the trend has been to import researchers from fields which, from a conservatoire point of view, are marginal. Today, you are more likely to get work in PaR if your practice is in intermedial studies, or if you have no practice at all, and highly unlikely if you research in practices of acting, circus or, in my case,  clowning.

The publishing of performing arts research has also followed the traditional route and has, if anything, narrowed down. To keep your job, you must publish. That means that publishing in itself has no value, monetarily. Journal articles make money for the publisher but never for the author. Access is expensive for researchers and only really feasible via university libraries which can pay the exorbitant fees. That leaves those without access to university libraries out in the cold. Likewise, even if you have single-authored a book, the royalties are so minimal as to be meaningless. And often the price tag on an academic book is way out of reach of individuals. Once again, it’s the libraries who can afford it.

So, instead of chasing a non-existent academic post by conforming to the academic publishing mode, i.e. not being paid, I’ve decided to put my writing energies back into a more immediate public sphere, the blog. 

Without wanting to be a hostage to fortune, the areas I’m hoping to write about look like they’ll fall into the following categories:

With that in mind, I'll be tagging posts accordingly.

Some subjects ‘m keen to tackle are:
New research on the history of women clowns
The grotesque vs. inner clown debate
Non-western clowning
The drift towards irony and stand-up
The state of clown-tagged performances today 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

"Clown Readings" Bibliography

Here is the full bibliography, listing all the sources cited or collected in "Clown Readings"

Abbott, Bud and Costello, Lou (1944) Lost in a Harem (Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer).

Adams, Patch (1993) Gesundheit! (Vermont: Healing Arts Press).

- (1998) House Calls (San Francisco: Robert D. Reed).

- (2007) Interview on Roda Viva, 9th April 2007 (TV Brasil),, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Allen, Tony (2002) Attitude: Wanna Make Something Of It? (Glastonbury: Gothic Image).

Anderson, Franki (2009) Fools Gold,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2011) Interview by telephone, 13th December 2011.

Angelo, Henry (1828) Reminiscences (London: Henry Colburn).

Anderberg, Kirsten (2005) ‘Women Street Performers and Sexual Safety’,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Armin, Robert (1972) Collected Works ed. Feather, J P (London: Johnson Reprint Corporation).

Arratoon, Liz (2011) Review of Slava’s Snowshow in The Stage, 19th December 2011,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Aspa, Jordi (2009) ‘La Integridad del Círculo’ in Zirkolika, Revista Trimestral de les Arts Circenses no. 21, Summer 2009, p.33.

Astruc, Gabriel (1929) Le pavillon des fantômes (Paris: Grasset).

Atkinson, Rowan (1992) Visual Comedy, a lecture by Rowan Atkinson M.Sc. (Oxon.) (Tiger Television).

Auerbach, N (1990) Private Theatricals: the lives of the Victorians (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press).

Ball, Lucille (1951) I Love Lucy Pilot Program, unaired episode (CBS).

- (1952) I Love Lucy Season 1, Episode 52, 22nd December 1952 (CBS).

Balderas, Elizabeth (2009) Letter to El Chamuco, reproduced at, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Bandolier, Adolf (1890) The Delight Makers (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company).

Barker, Clive (1977) Theatre Games (London: Methuen).

Basch, Sophie (2002) Romans de cirque (Paris: Robert Laffont).

Baskervill, Charles Read (1929) The Elizabethan Jig and Related Song Drama (Chicago: Chicago University Press).

Baudelaire, Charles (1855) ‘On the Essence of Laughter’ in The Mirror of Art (1955) tr. & ed. Mayne, Jonathan (London: Phaidon Press).

Baugé, Isabelle (1995) Pantomimes (Cahors : Cicéro Éditions).

Beeman, William O. (1981) ‘Why Do They Laugh? An Interactional Approach to Humor in Traditional Iranian Improvisatory Theatre: Performance and its Effects’ in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 94, No. 374, Folk Drama (Oct. – Dec., 1981), 506-526.

Bellocq, Éric, Lavenère, Vincent de et al. (2004) Le chant des balles (Vic-la-Gardiole: L’Entretemps).

Bellos, David (1999) Jacques Tati (London: The Harvill Press).

Billington, Michael (2008) Review of Varekai in The Guardian, 10th January 2008.

Boese, Carl (1931) Grock (La vie d'un grand artiste) (Universum Film AG).

Bogdanovich, Peter (1972) Leo McCarthy Oral History (Los Angeles: American Film Institute).
Bolton, Reg (1987) New Circus (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation).

Bouissac, Paul (1972) Clown Performances as Meta-semiotic Texts in Language Sciences 19, 1-7.
- (1997) The profanation of the sacred in circus clown performances, in Richard Schechner and W. Appel (eds) By Means of Performance 194-207 (Cambridge: CUP).
Brecht, Bertolt (1955) translated by Geoffrey Kelton (1998)The Baden-Baden Lesson on Consent, in Collected Plays: Three (London: Methuen).
- (1994) Mann ist Mann (trans. By Gerhard Nellhaus) in Collected Plays: Two (London: Methuen).

Brinn, David (2011) ‘It’s not just clowning around with Slava and his Snowshow’ in The Jerusalem Post, 13th August 2011,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Brown, Ismene (2011) Review of Slava's Snowshow in theartsdesk, 29th December 2011,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Brown, Maria Ward (1901) The Life of Dan Rice (New Jersey: Long Branch).

Bryant, Arthur (1952) The Age of Elegance 1812-1822 (London: Collins).

Buten, Howard (2005) Buffo (Arles: Actes Sud).

Caillois, Roger (2001) Man, Play and Games (Chicago: University of Illinois Press).
Cairoli, Charlie (1966) The Milk Number at The London Hippodrome,, date accessed 29th December 2011.
- (1973) The Milk Number at Cirque Bouglione, Paris,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Calvi, Nuala (2011) Interview with Slava Polunin in The Stage, 16th December 2011.

Cameron, Anne (1981) Daughters of Copper Woman (Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers).
Campardon, Émile (1880) Les Comédiens du Roi de la troupe italienne (Paris: Berger-Levrault et Cie).
Carlson, Marvin (2003) ‘The Golden Age of the Boulevard’ in Joel Schechter (ed.), Popular Theater (London: Routledge).

Carse, James P. (1986) Finite and Infinite Games (New York: Random House).

Cashin, Pat (2011) Clownalley (

Cazeneuve, Jean (1957) Les dieux dansent à Cibola (Paris: Gallimard).

Ceballos, Edgar (1999) El Libro de Oro de los Payasos (Mexico DF: Escenología).

Cenoz, Clara (2009) Banana!, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2011) Interview at Escola de Clown de Barcelona, 20th November 2011.
Chai, Barbara (2011) ‘The Red-Nosed Revolution’ in the Wall Street Journal, 1st November 2011,, date accessed 29th December 2011.
Chamberlain, Franc and Yarrow, Ralph (eds.) (2002) Jacques Lecoq and the British Theatre (Oxford: Routledge).

Champsaur, Félicien (1901) Lulu, Roman clownesque in Basch, Sophie (2002) Romans de cirque (Paris: Robert Laffont).

Chaplin, Charlie (1916) The Pawnshop (Mutual Film Corporation).

- (1921) The Kid (First National).

- (1928) The Circus (United Artists).

- (1931) City Lights (United Artists).

- (1936) Modern Times (United Artists).

- (1964) My Autobiography, (London: The Bodley Head).

Chekhov, Michael (1953) To the Actor (New York: Harper and Row).

CIRCA (2006-11), date accessed 29th December 2011.

Claretie, Jules (1881) La Vie a Paris (Paris: Havard).

- (1888) Boum-Boum (New York: William R. Jenkins).

Clay, Alan (2005) Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User’s Guide (Newtown, Australia: Artmedia Publishing).

Clowns of America International (2006) 20 Years of Laughter (Nashville: Turner Publishing Company).

Cohen, Moshe (2005) ‘A Short Look at Clown and Zen’,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2007a) ‘Conversations with Roshi Egyoku: The Three Tenets’,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2007b) ‘Conversation with Roshi Bernie Glassman’,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2007c) ‘Conversations with Egyoku: Joy and Zen’,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2012) ‘The power of the (clown) Nose’, in Sacred Mischief,, date accessed 11th January 2012.

Copeau, Jacques (1990), Texts on Theatre, edited and translated by Rudlin, John and Paul, Norman H. (London: Routledge).
Cortés, Edouard (2007) El Pallasso i el Fuhrer (The Clown and the Fuhrer) (Televisió de Catalunya).
Cosdon, Mark (2010) The Hanlon Brothers: from daredevil acrobatics to spectacle pantomime, 1833-1931 (Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press).

Coward, Simon and Perry, Christopher Woodall (2009) Bob's Full House (Dudley: Kaleidoscope).

Crane, David and Kauffman, Marta (1994-2004) Friends (NBC).

Dauven, L R and Garnier, Jacques (1971) ‘Fellini’s Clowns’ in Le Cirque dans l'Univers #81 (Club du Cirque), trans. by Goodman, Diane in (1978) Mask, Mime & Marionette, vol. I, no. 1, Spring 1978: 41-4 (New York).

David, Larry (2000-2011) Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO).

David, Larry and Seinfeld, Gerry (1989-1998) Seinfeld (NBC).

Davis, Janet M (2005) ‘Bearded Ladies, Dainty Amazons, Hindoo Fakirs, and Lady Savages:

Circus Representations of Gender and Race in Victorian America’, Lecture at the University of Virginia 5th-8th October 2005,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Davison, Jon (2008) The Phenomenology of Clown, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2009a) The Dramaturgy of Clown, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2009b) An Encyclopaedia of Clown, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2010) Clown Training Today, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Diercksen, Laurent (1999) Grock: un destin hors norme (Bévilard, Switzerland : Laurent Diercksen).

Denis, Dominique (1985) Le Livre du Clown (Strasbourg: Éditions Techniques du Spectacle).

- (1997) 1.000 gags de clowns (Strasbourg: Magix Unlimited).

Dickens, Charles (1837) The Post-humourous notes of the Pickwickian Club (London: E. Lloyd).

Dimitriev, Yuri (1967) The Soviet Circus 1917-1941 (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

Disher, Maurice Willson (1925) Clowns and Pantomimes (London/New York : Benjamin Blom).

- (1937) Greatest Show on Earth (London: G. Bell and Sons)

Double, Oliver (1997) Stand-Up: On Being a Comedian (London: Methuen).

- (2005) Getting The Joke (London: Methuen).

Dromgoole, Nicholas (2007) Performance Style and Gesture in Western Theatre (London: Oberon Books).

Dryden, John (1811) The poetical works of John Dryden, vol. 2, eds Warton, Joseph and Warton, John (London: Rivington).

Duranty, Louis-Edmond (1995) Théâtre des Marionnettes - Répertoire Guignol du XIXe siècle (Paris : Actes Sud).

Durwin, Joseph (2002) Coulrophobia and the Trickster,, date accessed 29th December 2011.
Eisenberg, Avner (c. 1980-2011) Exceptions to Gravity (live one-man show).
- (2005) Eccentric Principles,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

- (2011) Interview with Christopher Lueck, 3rd February 2011,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Evans, Mark (2006) Jacques Copeau (London: Routledge).

Feldberg, Robert (2010) 'Banana Shpeel is a Cirque du Soleil attempt at vaudeville’, review of Banana Shpeel at The Beacon Theater, New York (in The Record 27th May 2010).

Fellini, Federico (1970) I Clowns (Radiotelevisione italiana).

Findlater, Richard (1978) Joe Grimaldi: his life and theatre (Cambridge: CUP).

Fisher, John (2006) Tommy Cooper – Always Leave Them Laughing (London: Harper Collins).

Fleisher, Julian (1996) The Drag Queens of York (New York: Riverhead Books).
Franc-Nohain (1907) Les mémoires de Footit et Chocolat (Paris: Pierre Lafitte).

Franconi, Victor (1855) Le cavalier, cour d’équitation pratique (Paris: Michel Lévy).

Fratellini, Albert (1955) Nous, Les Fratellini (Paris: Éditions Bernard Grasset).

Fratellini, Annie (1989) Destin de clown, (Lyon: Éditions La Manufacture).

- (1997) Article about Annie Fratellini in L’Humanité, 2nd July 1997.

Fratellini, Valérie (2002) ‘Ça mange quoi, un clown? Soliloque d’une dinosaure’ in Jeu: revue de théâtre, no. 104, (3) 2002, p. 109-15,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Frediani, Aristodemo (Beby) (1930) Mémoires d’un clown (Paris: La Liberté).

Frichet, Henri (1889) Le Cirque et les Forains (Tours: Alfred Mame et Fils).

Frost, Anthony and Yarrow, Ralph (1990) Improvisation in Drama (Palgrave Macmillan).

Fumagalli (2011) Le Miel et la reine des abeilles (The Honey and the Queen Bee),, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Jané, Jordi (1996) Charlie Rivel (Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya).

Jané, Jordi and Minguet, Joan M (eds) (1998) Sebastià Gasch, El Gust pel Circ (Tarragona: El Medol).

Gardner, Lyn (2009) Review of Le Cirque Invisible at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, in The Guardian, 5th August 2009,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

Gaulier, Philippe (2007a) Le gégéneur/The Tormentor (Paris: Éditions Filmiko).

- (2007b) The King of my School,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

von Geldern, James and Stites, Richard (eds) Mass Culture in Soviet Russia (Indiana: Indiana University Press).

Gehring, Wes D. (1990) Laurel & Hardy: a bio-bibliography (Greenwood Publishing Group).

Gervais, Ricky (2006) Ricky Gervais Meets ... Larry David (Channel 4).

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Gervais, Ricky, Merchant, Stephen and Davis, Warwick (2011) Life’s Too Short (BBC TV).

Girolamo, Mercuriale (1569) Arte Gymnastica libri Sex. in Toole Scott, Robert (1958-1962) Circus and Allied Arts: a World Bibliography (Derby: Harpur & Sons).
Goffman, Erving (1990) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (London: Penguin).

Goncourt, Edmond and Jules de (2005). Journal des Goncourt, volume 1: 1851–1857 (Paris: H. Champion).
Gordon, Mel (1983), Lazzi (New York: Performing Arts Journal).

Goudard, Philippe (2005) Anatomie d’un clown / Lire et Écrire le cirque (Vic-la-Gardiole: L’Entretemps éditions).

Grantham, Barry (2000) Playing Commedia – A Training Guide to Commedia Techniques (London: Nick Hern Books).

- (2006) Commedia Plays – Scenarios, Scripts, Lazzi (London: Nick Hern Books).

Grock (1931) Life’s a Lark, (London: William Heinemann Ltd).

- (1957) King of Clowns (London: Methuen).

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Harris, Paul (1996) The Pantomime Book: The Only Known Collection of Pantomime Jokes and Sketches in Captivity (London: Peter Owen).

Helm, Alex (1971) Eight Mummers’ Plays (London: Ginn).

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Hicks, Bill (1989) ‘What you reading for?’ in Sane Man (Sacred Cow Productions).

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- (2009) ‘Behind the Scenes at the Circus’, talk and panel discussion at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 31st March 2009,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

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- (2000) ‘Early Female Clowns’ in The Clown In Times, Volume 6, Issue 3.

- (2010) ‘History and Philosophy’ in Clowning Around, March/April 2010 (World Clown Association)

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- (1927) College (United Artists).

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Koller, Donna and Gryski, Camilla (2008) ‘The Life Threatened Child and the Life Enhancing Clown: Towards a Model of Therapeutic Clowning’ in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 5 (2008), Issue 1, pp. 17-25,, date accessed 29th December 2011.

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- (1991) ‘The Rhetoric of Romance and the Simulation of Tradition in Circus Clown Performance’ in Semiotica vol. 85(3/4): 227-55.

- (1993), ‘Masochism, Spectacle, and the “Broken Mirror” Clown Entree: a Note on the Anthropology of Performance in Postmodern Culture’ in Cultural Anthropology, vol.8, no. 1: 117-29.
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Louvish, Simon (2001) Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy (London: Faber and Faber).

- (2003) Keystone – The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennett (London: Faber and Faber).
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Mamet, David (1998) True or False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor(London: Faber and Faber).

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Mariel, Pierre (1923) Histoire de trios clowns (Paris: Société Anonyme d’Éditions).

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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Clown Devising Workshop

Every Thursday 6.30-8.30pm
at Apiary Studios
Coming soon! - please let me know if you are interested in coming to this. We will start soon: once we have enough people.
Jon Davison
London Clown School

Following on from the popular success of the weekly clown workshop on Mondays (we've only missed one Monday since starting in April last year) I am happy to announce a new opportunity for all to develop their clowning.

The Monday class has been covering everything from discovering the joy of being stupid in front of others to the work of coming up with workable ideas for performing in public.
There's so much to do in such a short time that I've decided to open up a new class to focus on the devising aspects of clowning, leaving Mondays freer to work on the dynamics of clowning and enjoying your own stupidity and thereby making others laugh. That doesn't mean there will be no devising at all on Mondays, nor that Thursdays will ignore the essential need to actually perform your material as stupidly and funnily as possible. But it will allow for some more in depth work to take place in both areas.

The need for training in devising clown material

It’s all very well experiencing clowning in a workshop situation, where the teacher sets up the frame and conditions, but quite another matter when you come to perform in front of audiences out there in public. Learning the dynamics of clowning won’t be enough. Something else is required. Other kinds of comic performers habitually spend a lot of time and effort on ‘material’. Stand-up comedians worry over joke structure, sketch comedians search for strong premises for their ideas. Why should clowns be different? Popular misconceptions suppose that clowns just get up there and are funny just by being true to their inner selves. But looking inside yourself won’t really save you.

There are countless practical ways of devising material appropriate for your clowning. Awareness of and understanding of these is far preferable to just hoping the clown you ‘found’ will survive the real stage situation. These forms and structures of clown material also derive from simple notions of what clowns actually do. At the moment, my favourite terms for what clowns do are ‘wrongness’, the ‘unthinkable’, the ‘unexpected’ and the ‘obvious’.

This workshop is ongoing, drop in, continuous, unending - basically every week - so you can come regularly or occasionally or just once. It works for different kinds of people: you might have just started clowning and want to try performing in public; you might want to get back to it after a time away, or revisit your material and improve it or change it.

So now you will be able to dedicate even more time to clowning. Come to both days or just one. It's up to you.

Time: Thursdays 6.30 – 8.30pm
Venue: Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London E2 9EG
Cost: Single class £15; or £50 for four classes paid in advance; or £60 for five classes paid in advance; or £110 for ten classes paid in advance

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Coming soon! Clown Studies

This will be the first of its kind. I started running these classes way back in 2006 when we opened the Barcelona clown school. It felt like an innovation then. No one was really teaching clown history or theory or analysis. To me it seemed self-evident that thinking and knowing about clowning could benefit your performing. Or that it could be a worthwhile study in itself.

Ten years later, and still no one is offering clown studies in this way, anywhere, as far as I am aware: neither in private clown schools nor in universities, despite all their talk of embracing ‘popular performance’.

I flirted with the academy for a number of years (aside from my experience setting up clown workshops myself), teaching and researching at high-level drama schools which had become part of the university system: the Institut del Teatre in Spain and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Britain. I learned much from my students in Barcelona and had great opportunities to research in London. But I realise that the academy is destined to remain a dead end as far clowning goes, insofar as no one is likely to take the subject seriously enough at an institutional level.

So after years of trying to forge a niche for clowning, either through systematising its teaching or by trying to set up an MA in clowning, I now prefer to put my energies into my independent teaching. Over the last year, the London Clown School Monday workshop has become well-established. We haven't missed a week, not even for Xmas. People come regularly or occasionally, and there is always a mix of old and new faces. Each participant gets to explore as they wish, whether it's discovering the joy of being stupid in front of others, or preparing performance material to try out in public. One of the many advantages of this format is that it avoids the crushingly standardised control of education today with its targets, aims and objectives. So there’s not a hint of "by the end of this course you will have learned x". As a teacher, it’s not my business to bet on what you may learn, nor when you may learn it.

So, now it’s time to offer, in a similar sustained way, an opportunity to explore the other side: the history, theory and analysis of clowning. Every week I receive requests from students needing advice, guidance and tuition for their projects, dissertations and theses investigating clowning. It's hardly surprising, given universities' long-term failure to invest in clowning.

This new initiative will offer a programme of studies in 2 formats:  
- a weekly drop-in class held in London 
- an online class, also following a weekly pattern

I’ll also continue to offer one-to-one tutoring, guidance or supervision either in person or online.

Clown Studies Syllabus
This falls into four broad areas: theory, history, analysis and personal research project.

General questions - What is clown? What is funny? How can we talk about clown? What is clown’s relationship to comedy? to humour? How do we know what clowns are? What are they for?

What is clown’s history? How are clowns specific to their time and place? Why do different meanings become attached to clowns according to their time and place? What is a Shakespearean clown? A circus clown? An auguste clown? A personal clown?

Using practical observation of the work of clown performers, live or on video/film, contemporary or historical, how can we talk about them? What is the vocabulary of the clown critic? How can we answer the question ‘why is this (not) funny?’

Compiling a short project on a theme of your choice, in any presentation format (except clown performance itself) that can be stored or recorded for future clown students to consult.

Provisional expressions of interest:
Please get in touch if you are interested in any of these options and I will keep you posted on developments.

Best wishes,

Jon Davison
London Clown School

Friday, 27 November 2015

Monday Clown Workshops

Quite a few people have been asking me recently what the clown workshops held every Monday are all about (including some people who come regularly).

There are two main aims as far as I am concerned (participants might have other aims, of course). One aim is to work continuously on a better understanding in practice of what makes clowning happen. As the years have passed, I have more and more come to the conclusion that it’s all rather simple. So simple, in fact, that it’s easier to clown than it is not to clown (people often say comedy and clowning is so difficult, but maybe they’re wrong). You just have to create the right conditions. So that’s what I hope to do in a workshop: set up the best possible conditions for participants to clown, and, crucially, to understand how it works. Increasingly, then, I’ve preferred to whittle down what used to be a whole mountain of games and exercises into two or three fundamental forms, which can help you access the dynamics of clowning as directly as possible. And those forms, or dynamics, are derived in turn from the basic premise of clowning, which is to be the object of laughter for others.

My second aim comes from the fact that it’s all very well experiencing clowning in a workshop situation, where the teacher sets up the frame and conditions, but quite another matter when you come to perform in front of audiences out there in the world. Learning the dynamics of clowning won’t be enough. Something else is required. Other kind of comic performers habitually spend a lot of time and effort on ‘material’. Stand-up comedians worry over joke structure, sketch comedians search for strong premises for their ideas. Why should clowns be different? Popular misconceptions suppose that clowns just get up there and are funny just by being true to their inner selves. But looking inside yourself won’t really save you. There are countless practical ways of devising material appropriate for your clowning. Awareness of and understanding of these is far preferable to just hoping the clown you ‘found’ will survive the real stage situation. These forms and structures of clown material also derive from simple notions of what clowns actually do. At the moment, my favourite terms for what clowns do are ‘wrongness’, the ‘unthinkable’, the ‘unexpected’ and the ‘obvious’.

This workshop is ongoing, drop in, continuous, unending - basically every Monday - so you can come regularly or occasionally or just once. It works for different kinds of people: you might be just starting clowning; you might want to reinforce your understanding of clowning, or get back to it after a time away; you might want to start performing in public; or revisit your material and improve it or change it.

Time: Mondays 6.30 – 8.30pm
Venue: Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London E2 9EG
Cost: Single class £15; or £50 for four classes paid in advance; or £60 for five classes paid in advance; or £110 for ten classes paid in advance

Jon Davison 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Documenting Clown Training

This paper was presented at Salford Comedy Symposium ‘Documenting Comedy’ on 13th May 2015, hosted by University of Salford and Media City UK, Salford

Documenting Clown Training

I want to ask some questions about the nature of clowning, or a particular part of it, which arise when we consider the relationship between clown performance and its possible documentation. By doing so I will also reflect upon the nature of documentation itself.

What do we mean by clowning?
What do we include? Exclude? The term is multi-connotational and sometimes hotly disputed. It depends on who you ask, clowns or clowning are:

-          ‘A clown who doesn’t provoke laughter is a shameful mime’ (Gaulier 2007a: 289)
-          It's okay not to be funny. Clowns do not have to make people laugh‘ (Simon 2009: 31)
-          Clowns are sad and exhibit ‘shabby melancholy‘ (Stott 2009: XVI).
-           The key feature uniting all clowns is their ability, skill or stupidity, to break the rules (McManus 2003: 12).
-          Etymologically, in 16th England, clowns those who do not behave like gentlemen, but in ‘uncivil fashions‘ (French Academy, 1586).
-           ‘a quest for liberation from the “social masks” we all wear‘ (Murray 2003: 79,  on Jacques Lecoq).
-          ‘the main similarity between clown and Zen is that if you are you are thinking, then you are not where you want to be‘ (Cohen 2005);
-          ‘Clowning is about the freedom that comes from a state of total, unconditional acceptance of our most authentic selves‘ (Henderson 2008).
-          Some believe clowns are responsible for bringing rain to the crops: ‘they also fast, mortify themselves, and pray to Those Above that every kind of fruit may ripen in its time, even the fruit in woman’s womb‘ (Bandolier 1890: 34).
-          Some ascribe such powers to their taboo-breaking: ‘This “wisdom” magically acquired shows well that this is a question of the breaking of a taboo’ (Makarius 1974: 63).
-          Some think that clowns are a socially useful way to control traffic, since they ’can achieve what traffic police cannot achieve using warning and sanctions [...] by employing artistic and peaceful actions’ (Toothaker 2011),
-          Others believe that to be a clown is to sink below human dignity: ’I'm going to earn something, even if it’s as a clown’ (Partido del Trabajo de México 2009).
-          Some have believed clowns could stop wars: ’The laughter of Bim and Bom almost stopped the Russian Revolution’ (Schechter 1998: 33).
-          Alternatively, they might find themselves on the side of governments: ’Nikulin replied: “Who will be the subject of our parody? The government is marvellous”’ (Schechter 1998: 15-16).

The list is much longer. Clowns have been seen as revolutionary, reactionary, avant-garde, universal, marginal, irrelevant, fundamental, dangerous, harmless, immoral, exemplary, skilled, chaotic, wealthy, poor, innocent, cruel, scary, joyous, melancholic, or as fulfilling any number of social, artistic, cultural or political functions as can be imagined.

There is one particular definition of clowning I want to look at here. It has its contemporary source in the experiments by Jacques Lecoq with clowning in the early 1960s: the flop... the eliciting and re-eliciting of laughter. Laughter as a response to the failure of the clown to make us laugh, which is the job, the agreed contract between clown and audience. And that this laughter should be as a result of our finding the clown himself the joke.

This definition or practice has been hugely influential, indeed dominant, over the last half century of contemporary clowning, and forms a pillar of clown training, in many, though not all, clown pedagogies.

Over the last half century clown workshops and training, since Jacques Lecoq’s experiments teaching clown in the early 1960s, have arguably gained prominence over clown performance itself. Clown teachers command international respect and power, aesthetic and financial, which very few clown performers can aspire to. In the workshop, theories, orthodoxies and philosophies have become established which often make transcendent claims to ‘truth’, in a manner that general actor training has done for some time.

Despite remaining a relatively isolated niche in the fields of performer training and comedy performance, this new-found boost in the value assigned to clown training and its practitioners has also visibly filtered into the public arena, via tributes paid by household names such as Sacha Baron-Cohen, or Edinburgh Perrier award-winner Phil Burgers (Dr Brown) and others to master clown teachers such as Philippe Gaulier.

However, outside the confines of the clown workshop, very little is known about just what the value of clown training might be. Are the experiences of students and teachers of clowning alike, which are often reported to be ‘life-changing’, destined to lie neglected as traces in the personal memories of participants? Or can they be documented and disseminated in such a way that a wider audience might share their insights?

So, how can we document this clowning? How can we document a flop?

Before addressing that question, I want to briefly ask what a document is.

What is a document/documentation?

Etymologically, a document means (early 15c) "teaching, instruction," from Old French document (13c.) "lesson, written evidence," from Latin documentum "example, proof, lesson," in Medieval Latin "official written instrument," from docere "to show, teach" (see doctor (n.)). Meaning "something written that provides proof or evidence" is from early 18c.

document (v.)
1640s, "to teach;" see document (n.). Meaning "to support by documentary evidence" is from 1711.

In Library and Information Science,

a document is, according to Suzanne Briet’s influential “What is documentation?” (1951) a theoretical construct, "evidence in support of a fact." (Buckland, Michael (1998). “What is a digital document?”)

In a Court of Law

I have to provide proofs, or documents, to convince you of the probability of my argument. These might be material evidence - signed papers, photographs, audio recordings, bus tickets, phone bills, scientific experiments, forensic tests. Or witness statements converted into written and signed statements.

Either way, the document’s function is to aid proof of an argument.

Clown documentation

If we take this sense of a document as only being a document as such when it serves the purpose of demonstrating, or proving, something, how does this then apply to clown documentation?

Imagine this: I have witnessed some clowning, some good clowning, but a friend of mine wasn’t there to see it. How will I explain and convince my friend of the value of the clowning? How can I show to those who were not present why it was good, or why it was clowning, or perhaps more objectively, why, or when we laughed?

If you’ve ever done, seen or trained in clowning, you may have had the experience of trying to recount your experience to someone who wasn’t there. ‘Oh it was so funny what they did, one of them was smiling then he stopped and we all laughed, then the other one left and it was hilarious!’

At times, while teaching clowning, I venture to suggest that this undocumentability, or more precisely, this undisseminatability, is a good indication that good clowning has taken place. If clowning, at least of this type, is about you, the clown, being the joke, then how could I possibly transmit or explain ‘you’? If on the other hand the pleasure was in the jokes, as in other kinds of non-clown comedy, or the farcical situation, or in the characters, then I would be more likely to be able to convey, to recount to retell the jokes, the stories or the situations to my friend. Even if I couldn’t tell the jokes as funnily as the comedian, my friend would at least have seen that, in the hands of a professional, this material might well elicit laughter. That would be enough to convince my friend that when I say I laughed a lot when I saw that show, I am not lying, nor am I completely mad.

Gaulier argues precisely this, that clowning is not about having good jokes, but the opposite

A question:
‘Why do clowns choose bad jokes?’
If the jokes were good, they would be comic actors. They wouldn’t meet Monsieur Flop. They wouldn’t perform with the feeling of having committed a blunder. (Gaulier: 307-8)

The audience doesn’t laugh at the gag, but at the imbecile who has a moronic idea. (Gaulier: 308)

How can I convey the essence of the clown’s comedy by retelling some bad jokes? Conversely, if the jokes are too bad to be retold, does that demonstrate that they were clown jokes, or at least that any laughter provoked by them in the show was a result not of the quality of the material, but of the quality, if you like, of the clowning?

In short: if clowns have shit material, what can we document? What document, what proof can convince my friend that it was indeed funny and that they really should have been there?

You may say here that I should have just videoed the performance on my phone so I could share it afterwards, with ALL my friends. But will the video be a good enough document for the clowning to hold up in court?

Or, should we just be happy with no documentation? The idea that clowning might be by its nature that which cannot be documented might indeed be appealing... but is it strictly true? Or is it just a bit of rhetoric designed to claim for clowning that unmediated presence so sought after by performance practitioners and scholars?


I want to address the issue of video briefly and perhaps throw a spanner into the works of my argument so far. A few years ago at a performance conference I was presenting a paper entitled ‘describing clowning’. I had been wrestling with how to describe my own practice in order to then make arguments about that practice as evidenced in the descriptions. I wanted to keep at bay any temptation on my part to impose my own preconceptions about the meaning and effect of my own performance work. Searching for a ‘rigorous methodology’ to do this, I had recourse to Gilbert Ryle’s notion of thin and thick descriptions. Grossly oversimplifying, thin descriptions tell us what happened in an event, thick descriptions also tell us what those happenings might mean.  By dispensing with thick description I hoped to remove all trace of my pre-interpretations of the event.

Up until that point I had written several thick and thin descriptions of my performances but had not been convinced of the value of this exercise. During the paper presentation I had planned to show a short video clip of my own clown performance, in order to support my argument about the dynamics of laughter in clowning. When I came to the part where I was going to show the video, I felt that those present would most likely find this boring: watching a youtube clip on a distant projector screen in poor lighting, with poor sound, no context and no sense of what the performance event had actually felt like. That event had taken place in a room crammed full of spectators sitting on the floor and anywhere they could find, in a circus community in London. In an instant there came to mind so many occasions when I had shown to friends and family a bit of video of a show I had done, only to be disappointed by the blank looks on their faces as they tried to figure out what was going on in this little 2D rectangle, and most importantly, just when or why they were supposed to laugh. Excruciating. So I made a quick decision to dispense with the video. In its place I elected to read the thin description of the same event shown in the video clip. Before commenting further on this, I will now repeat that reading.

Thin description of a performance....

The compere says, ‘okay, and so for our next act, please bring your hands together and welcome Jon’, and exits the stage.

The audience applaud.

One second later I enter, taking one step onto the performing area, in the upstage right corner. I am wearing a black suit, a white shirt, black tie, black shoes with white laces. Looking at the audience, I am smiling. I remain there. I bring my hands together in front of me then return them to my sides. Silence for six seconds. The audience applauds again. I adjust my tie a little, after which it is slightly longer than before. I say, ‘Thank you’. Silence for six seconds, during which my smile disappears.

There follow a couple of small laughs from the audience.  I smile and take one more step onto the stage, in a diagonal line towards centre stage. Silence for six seconds. A beer bottle in the audience is heard rolling onto the floor. Six seconds of silence. I turn towards the exit, smiling and saying, ‘bye!’ The audience laugh loudly. I turn back and take another step towards them. In amongst that laugh is a faint single voice which sighs ‘oh!’ I stand, smiling and say: ‘Thanks’. More audience laughter, patchy. I take one more step forwards, and repeat ‘thanks’. More patchy laughter. I take another step as the audience laughs and some applaud. Stopping, I drop my smile and look down at my tie, which I adjust, leaving it longer than before. Silence, six seconds, then more applause (no laughs), I elongate my tie more. Some of the audience laugh, in spurts. I take a step whilst saying thanks. Four seconds silence, audience laugh, I step and say thanks. This again, a laugh and step, then I also laugh, a single burst that ends in a snort. A one second pause and a single hysterical-type laugh from the audience. I look quizzical. I laugh again and say: ‘oh, thank you very much’. A big laugh from both the audience and myself, which I end by faking the laugh. More audience laughs, as I step towards them.

A few more steps follow similarly, I laugh, the audience laughs. I look at the front row to my left, who aren’t laughing. Looking at them, my smile drops, my mouth becomes down-turned.

[The Hive, Hackney Wick, London, on 09/03/13. A video of the performance can be viewed here:]

The semiotician of circus and clowning, Paul Bouissac, repeatedly bemoans the fact that when commentators talk about clowning, they mostly restrict themselves to a few well-worn clichés about what clowns are deemed to engage in (Bouissac 2015).

What Bouissac wants, instead, are detailed descriptions of what particular clowns actually did. Thin descriptions, in other words. His own publications have repeatedly tried to redress this imbalance. Only when we have an accurate description of a routine, Bouissac claims, can we begin to analyse and interpret how the meaning is constructed in a clown performance.

This also chimes with what the clown and fool expert and teacher, Franki Anderson, has to say about observation. One of her exercises consists in one student showing a small performance of themselves as themselves, while their companions (their audience) observe and then recount to them what they saw. Two types of observation are suggested by Anderson; subjective and objective, which coincide with the thick/thin binary. Although not universally so, what many report is that the objective/thin description is the one which offers the descriptee the most useful information. By useful here I mean that this kind of description gives the descriptee the potential to: 1. Recall the action (a kind of rehearsal notes, or script) 2. Recall how it felt to do this performance, and maybe how to regain that feeling when re-performing (a kind of mnemonic for reencountering the clown state, or however you want to call it). What seems surprising about this is that the subjective description does not give the descriptee the tools to rediscover the feeling or state, despite, or perhaps because of, subjectivity’s aim being precisely to capture emotions, states, intentions and motivations.

Could it be, then, that a kind of Beckettian script is what serves clown documentation best? Perhaps. Though I’m not sure that the next time I see a clown show and then try to tell a friend in a pub how funny it was, that I will begin by saying.... a tall figure, sex undeterminable, enters and stands upstage right, left foot first. .....!


This all finally brings us back to the flop, and to Gaulier. In his book, ‘The Tormentor’ Gaulier uses a character named ‘Victor Francois’ to illustrate typically clownish behaviour. This Victor resorts to joke shops and, crucially, a written document in his drive to be funny:

Joke shops sell vulgar half-masks, big hooked noses, with (or without) a moustache, big potato-shaped noses, with (or without) glasses, alongside squeaking cheeses, exploding sweets, fake brandy, plastic turds and the Encyclopaedia of Jokes.

I know someone who goes to these shops regularly on Fridays after work. He opens the door and looks along the shelves. He considers carefully. How will I be funny tomorrow? He buys this and that: not too much but just enough to make his friends burst out laughing. He knows exactly what to choose. He longs for tomorrow evening. He has to learn three gags by heart from his Encyclopaedia of Jokes. Ah, his Encyclopaedia! He bought it thirty-five years ago. He has never lost it or left it anywhere. The Encyclopaedia has pride of place on his bedside table. In the evening he reads it before going to sleep. According to his wife, he often chuckles when he’s asleep. [...] His favourite joke is the story of the archbishop who ... he has told it too often. It’s got worn to death... Three new jokes tomorrow.

[...] He admitted to me he was better on the visual and dramatic front, rather than with jokes.

He forgets them.

‘You understand? I begin. It’s OK. Then, little by little, I flounder. I tie myself in knots. I forget the punch line or say it too soon. The surprise effect is lost. I say I’m sorry I got it wrong. Everyone laughs. Unfortunately they don’t laugh at the joke. They laugh at my stupidity. (290)

And so, the encyclopaedia of jokes is the clown’s greatest prop. The idea that one can pluck a joke from a document and then make people laugh with it, is, frankly, funny!

Appendix 1:  jokes as doumentation

This observation might lead us even further, into the territory of jokes, comic material and indeed theatre in general. The pattern is: event, observe event, retell event/re-perform event. Until now I have taken the event to be the original clown performance; the observation being my own in the moment and then in notes plus watching the video afterwards and annotating it – or going to see a show then telling a friend about it - or, in Bouissac’s case, going to the circus several times until he has a detailed description for the purposes of semiotic analysis.

But we can also begin from a non-performance event. Let’s say, my mother-in-law said something to me last Tuesday... and so on. The observation is simply me remembering what happened. And the retelling becomes, you guessed it! a joke. ‘my mother-in-law.....[cite joke

The doorbell rang this morning. When I opened the door, there was my mother-in-law on the front step.
She said, 'Can I stay here for a few days?'  I said, 'Sure you can.' And shut the door in her face.

This is the standard staging of this kind of joke: a presumed event retold.

Of course, it is also the standard pattern for joke-stealing! Watch a comedian, write down the joke, tell it next night. And not just stand-ups. The Fratellinis tell of how their competitors would be lurking in the audience on first nights, paper in hand, ready to steal their new routines and reproduce them tomorrow, in the same bill as themselves, but earlier, thus sabotaging their act.

Of course, according to Brecht, this is also the nature of theatre: a retelling of an event, in such a way as to allow for new interpretations and meanings. Brecht’s image of the witness here [cite] also brings us back to the heart of documentation: the purpose of which is to ‘prove’ (in court) the truth or otherwise of a particular interpretation of the meaning of someone’s acts. In the case of the mother-in-law joke, what, we might ask, would be proved by this ‘document’? that all mothers-in-law are x, y, z..... of course!

This perspective on the nature of comedic material gets us away from obsessing over punchlines and how they work (incongruence, rhythm, timing etc.) such an ‘ontology’ of comic material fits the pattern even better in the case of the less structured or formulaic format of observational comedy. In this light, Jerry Seinfeld is the ‘witness’, and the case to be proved is that, well, isn’t the world a funny place?

Appendix 2: Lenny Bruce

Here is an example which confounds both the nature of performance documentation and the status of performance as proof in a court of law.

Bruce used courtroom transcripts, about the alleged obscenity of his act, in his act, telling the story of how a policeman would come to see his act and make notes on the rude things he said, to be reproduced in front of the judge as evidence in a case.

[This was Bruce’s penultimate stand-up performance of his life, soon after he was convicted, virtually banned from performing, and died of an overdose.]

Jon Davison is artistic director of the clown-circus-pantomime company, Stupididity, co-founder of the Escola de Clown de Barcelona, Visiting Lecturer at RCSSD, author of Clown: Readings in Theatre Practice, and Clown Training, a practical guide, both published by Palgrave Macmillan.