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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Clowning around » » Clown Shoes....mandatory or not? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

The Pianoman
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Lliving in Scotland.
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Hi all, I have just worn out another cheap pair of clown shoes and am now pondering my next move.
I am not sure whether to go the whole hog and buy and import a quality pair from the USA into Scotland, or get some brightly coloured sneeker type shoes instead.

It has to be said that I really love the big clown shoes and all the positive attention the comes with them, on the other hand I really do move around a lot and fall over, bang into walls, etc so the shoes can sometimes get a really hard time.
My area of work is kids birthday parties in their homes or in function halls hired for the occasion.
The sneeker types would improve my acrobatic moves but that would be at the loss of the giggles from the kids when they see the big bright shoes.

Perhaps a quality pair of clown shoes would indeed allow all the movement I would need, and still keep the endearing clown appearance intact.

Your thoughts would be very welcome.

Regards Alan


http://www.alandavidson.me.uk
rossmacrae
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Arlington, Virginia
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(Challenging response...)

So it's all about entertaining with a coat of paint and a fancy costume, and not so much about entertainment skills?

I've found that many clowns worry day and night about their costume and makeup, and can't actually entertain worth a darn. Take away the costume and you're left with...?

Maybe I've gone farther in the other direction than most, but I prefer to wear colorful clothes and no makeup at all, or just very minimal makeup - the kids still say "here comes the clown" when they see me (adults don't know what to do if you don't look 100% 'Ringling') but I scare far fewer toddlers.

In direct response to your question, get some practical sneakers and let your talent be so strong that nobody notices.
Bridgewater
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North Carolina
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Alan,
I second RossMacrae's recommendation of going to sneakers rather than clown shoes. But, you can get sneakers that will have nearly the same effect as custom-made clown shoes. Go to http://www.eastbay.com and check the clearance items. They have high-top basketball shoes in bright color combinations such as blue/orange, green/yellow, purple/gold. And for $29.95!. I wear bright orange leather high-top Chuck Taylor's and the kids always love them. In fact parents often say "I wish I had a pair of those."
"Don't run with those..."
TXKEVIN
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Alan-
There is no 100% right answer. However, I think good clown shoes accomplish several positive things. For example, whether or not you act professionally, they help you look professional. Many people (to include kids) have stereotypes. Whey you look a little like they think you should, you gain some immediate credibility. Or maybe I should say recognizability. What you then do with that credibility is the real test of your ability to clown. If you hear comments like, "look (mom or dad), there's a clown or there's a real clown" just when your walking around, you're probably doing a good job of looking like a clown no matter how your dressed. Bottom line...clown shoes are one of those things people associate with clowns. I've never met anyone who has regretted the purchase of their quality clown shoes.

However, as I started this post...there's no one correct answer. Some people wear non-traditional clown shoes and also have positive results.
Skip Way
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There is no mandatory in clowning...and this is one of the most difficult lessons to pound into the heads of hobbyists and purists. Your clown should be a repesentation of YOU...first and always.

If your goal is to maintain the historical image of the traditional circus clown, then larger shoes are part of that wardrobe. You get what you pay for. My first pair of clown shoes cost me $150.00...a princely sum for a high school student in the late '60s. They lasted me 18 years before I had to replace them. My second pair cost me the outrageous amount of $350.00 in 1976. They lasted me through 12 years of almost daily use. In 1990 I had a new pair handmade by Billy Prince for around $500.00. The soles are just now beginning to wear through, but the uppers look nearly as good as the day I bought them 16 years ago. Going cheap cheapens you and costs you so much MORE in the long run.

If your goal is to entertain your audience to the best of your ability, then wear whatever fits your personality and skills. Don't tie yourself down to the boorish "experts" who demand that a clown must fit the pattern of A + B + C. Be Yourself.

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
The Pianoman
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Hi all, Thanks for all your replies, reading the posts it seems perhaps I should not have worded it the way I did.
When I asked are clown shoes mandatory....I did not for a second mean to be taken literally. I know full well its a choice, I was seeking to gather opinions, rather than get the last word on the matter.
I think I will go for a nice new pair of leather clown shoes simply becaue I enjoy wearing them. I am sure my kids shows would go just as well without them, but I just love them.

Regards to one and all

Alan Davidson
Skip Way
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You'd be surprised, Pianoman. There are perfectionists who believe that to be a "real" clown you must always wear gloves, have NO exposed skin anywhere, wear specific styles and items of wardrobe, wear a suitable wig or baldcap and behave in a specific manner and completely forego your humanity.

Go with a fine, quality set of leather upper & sole shoes made to fit your foot. You'll pay more, but, with proper care, they will last you a decade or more. I personally prefer a zipper inserted into the side of each shoe for ease of getting in and out of without tieing and untieing.

Best o' luck!
Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
rossmacrae
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Quote:
There are perfectionists who believe that to be a "real" clown you must always wear gloves, have NO exposed skin anywhere, wear specific styles and items of wardrobe, wear a suitable wig or baldcap and behave in a specific manner and completely forego your humanity.

When you hear someone go on like that, you can be 100% sure they are not a "pro." Those are clown-club competition standards, and they apply to the real world about as much as Westminster Kennel Club standards apply to the "real world" family dog. There are wonderful clowns in the USA and especially over in Europe who have built wonderful acts and careers without paying the slightest attention to the "gotta have this coat of paint" Klown Klub rules.
Skip Way
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Ross, Dead center on target. I enjoy reminding these perfectionist loonies that in accordance with their competitive rules Emmett Kelly, Lou Jacobs, Otto Griebling, Joseph Grimaldi and Red Skelton were complete failures as clowns. And how many truely gifted clowns are discouraged and turned away from positive influences by such outrageous regimentation. How utterly absurd!!

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Regan
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I agree with Skip and Ross on this one. I have been on both sides of the fence with the clown shoes issue. I started out wearing non-traditional shoes when I clowned. However, I later bought some cheaply made clown shoes and finally a pair of Spears clown shoes. I have to admit, I like the traditional clown shoes, but that is just a personal preference. I have no problem with a clown that feels differently about clown shoes, because I don't believe there is a right or wrong choice. Being professional is the most important thing. For me, the Spears shoes made me feel more professional, but again, just me personal feelings.

Hey, we're all different, even clowns! That's what makes this world such an exciting place to live!

Regan
Mister Mystery
rickmorse
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Flushing, MI
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I'll also endorse Ross's views, primarily due to his excellent birthday DVD that discusses this topic in detail. Keep the good stuff comin', Ross!
esther_scheffer
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Because I move around a lot I do not like to wear the big clowns shoes. (once in a while I do not mind, but not evrey show)
I run into some discounted golden sneakers the other day. Only 10 euro, I love them (bought the last 4 pairs in my size) and get a lot of nice reactions from the children.

I echo what rossmacrea says in his first post (although this is not so much about the hoes but more about the mak up which seems te be mandatory sometimes to): I scare far fewer toddlers by not painting the face completly white, but using only little makeup (little red nose, a sun and a bit above my eyes).

I also feel the ability to entertaining is more important than the calssic look as "clown".
Although when walking around and only spending very little time with everyone, I could go for more facepaint and the big shoes etc. Mostly because they can see you as a clown from a bigger ditance guess, and becuase some people are only passing by just the look is very important then.

But when I do a full show I prefer to be my own typical clown-like personality and wear practical colourful dress and little makeup.
Dave Lewis
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Right on, Ross! I've had clowns tell me that certain, well-known clown "professionals" would not let me work if they saw me out on a job without gloves!! What nonsense!!

I've chosen to wear the big clown shoes and paid to have them made by Spears to fit my feet. I had them re-soled once but for me, they add to the overall visual package that makes me feel more like a goofy, funny being, which helps me to stay in character. But that's what works for me.

Van's shoes has a web page that allows you to select a style of sports/skateboard shoe that you can design yourself by specifying the colors you want for each component of the shoe. http://shop.vans.com/customs/oldskools/

When I ordered mine they were $75 and are worth much more to me than the price! I use them when I need to wear bright colors but have been asked not to wear the wig, nose and makeup because someone at the party is afraid of clowns. And the kids don't try to step on my feet like they do when I'm in the big boats!
Scruffy the Clown
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Depends on the clown.
I wear pro shoes. I don't think that shoes make the clown. But I will admit, when I bought them, I really felt like my character finally complete. One of the main reasons was that the shoe style I wanted, I could never find large enough. As a whit face, I used to wear a pair of purple and yellow Addidias Hi top basketball shoes.... Size 18.
As a side note, Here is something I read years ago and still seems to ring true with clowns:
The three things that kids will never forget:
1. The wig.
2. the nose
3. The shoes.
BTW, I'm pretty sure there is a fourth one. I just can't come up with it right now.
Scruffy
Regan
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Quote:
On 2006-03-08 19:50, Scruffy the Clown wrote:
The three things that kids will never forget:
1. The wig.
2. the nose
3. The shoes.
BTW, I'm pretty sure there is a fourth one. I just can't come up with it right now.
Scruffy




Judging from number 1, 2, and 3 I would guess it will be something kids love to pull, squeeze, or stomp!

:)

Regan
Mister Mystery
Skip Way
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A fair list, but I believe that the three things a child most remembers about a clown are:

1. Did the clown frighten me?
2. Did the clown make me laugh?
3. Did the clown make me feel special?

Details such as appearance and accessories will always come second to these three points.

My opinion,
Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
esther_scheffer
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the netherlands
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Nice approach, Skip!

And if the answers are no-yes-yes it is not important wheter you have big shoes or a wig or not.
Like with the make-up, the reason clowns started to use make-up was to be able for a big adience to see the face expression also on the last row.
And if you are far away it doesn't scare the kids so much. For close up I prefer less make-up.

But in the end I think it is most important to find the shous/hair-do/make-up etc. that fits you, and the character you are, and the act/show you are playing.
And after all I am very happy not all the clowns look the same. Gives everybody a choice who they want to book too.
sluggo
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Mike B.
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No, the clown shoes are not a must. I'm starting to lean toward the European style of clowns. Little makeup, no wig and brightly colored gym shoes. Putting on and taking off that grease paint every weekend can be a huge pain.
Dad, magic, ventriloquism, facepainter & balloons.
A weakness for coffee (caffeine)
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