It's a sad day when people who are so clueless about clowning are actually publishing books telling us how to do it, such as this from Eli Simon's "The Art of Clowning" (2009, New York: Palgrave Macmillan): "It's okay not to be funny. Clowns do not have to make people laugh." (p.31)
Simon talks a lot about truthfulness, but there is very little of it in this disappointing book. His haughty dismissals of the "maniacal clown who freaks out the neighourhood" set the tone for a book that has pretensions to superiority: "thsse Bozo-type clowns... are not the soulful clowns you will likely develop using this book." (p.4)
However, the exercises and advice that follow do not measure up to such claims, running along the lines of tired old impro tasks like "take an object and transform it". Hardly a case of "you will be deeply connected to truths rather than just gags" (p.6)
I fear that there will be many who will use this book as their bible, delighted to be relieved of the responsibility of actually being funny, and will fool themselves into believing that their uninteresting and formless work is full of truth. In other words, it may contribute to the continued lowering of standards in clowning today. Books sometimes do have an effect, as we aw a few years back in Spain with Jesús Jara's "El Clown: un Navegante de las Emociones", which resembles Simon's work in its insipidness and false claims to deep insight, and has misled countless clown students.