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Robin Williams, And The Life Of A Clown

Granny Wendy: “So, your adventures are over.” Peter: “Oh no, to live. To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

Traditionally, a clown is a a comic entertainer, especially one in a circus, wearing a traditional costume and exaggerated makeup. Yet, we often adopt the clown identity in other contexts, often as a coping mechanism. Perhaps, you are that kid who always makes the whole class laugh by eating chalk, or slipping and falling (on purpose). Perhaps, you are that guy in the office, who always has a joke ready. Perhaps, you are that uncle, who has a humorous comeback to every life's tragedy. The concept of emotional labour has been widely studied with occupations like nurses, flight attendants, sex workers, television actors, and yes, clowns. Any job that requires its employees to display certain required emotions towards customers, and thus, involves "private emotion management" can be argued to involve emotional labour, and hence, carry the risk of emotional burnout. Are YOU a clown? Do YOU  stretch your face into a smile for the benefit of others, no matter how much it hurts? What are the responsibilities of the clown? To entertain, to make people laugh, to be charming at all times. To persevere. To be strong. What? You've never thought of a clown as being strong? How much strength does it take to put on a show for the audience, regardless of your own inner state? Emotional labour, indeed. This is harder than carrying a log for miles. The audience of idiots is awaiting eagerly for the next punch line, the next hilarity to ensue. What will he say next? What trick will he perform? You give them what they want, what they expect, what you've been giving them this whole time, and, briefly pleased, they guffaw, almost choking on their own saliva. A clown loses the privilege of being sad, just like a celebrity loses the privilege to be invisible. A celebrity clown is presented with a double whammy. He is constantly surrounded by adoring fans. Feeling lonely is allowed. Talking about it is not. You are on your own. *   *   * My makeup is dry and it clags on my chin I'm drowning my sorrows in whisky and gin The lion tamer's whip doesn't crack anymore The lions they won't fight and the tigers won't roar La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la So let's all drink to the death of a clown Won't someone help me to break up this crown Let's all drink to the death of a clown Let's all drink to the death of a clown So sad, so funny. Solo


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