Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a great clown Mr. Dale Smith A.K.A . Herky the Clown. He resides in Massillon Ohio and is very well known they even have a Herky Day. Herky happens to be one of the clowns that has granted permission for me to paint his image. He is Watercolor Clown #9 Dale “Herky” Smith. I really enjoyed working with him and I am sure you will like him to.
So let’s get to know him better.
Herky and Nina Reunited
1. How long have you been a clown?
I have been a clown all of my life. I was voted class clown in high school, but professionally trained since 1987.
2. Who inspired you to become a clown?
I don’t know that I was inspired from the beginning. But I always loved Dick Van Dyke as a child. When I was 3 I was in the hospital for a few days and my parents brought me a stuffed clown. Still have it. Maybe that planted a seed?
3. Where did you receive training? & 4. What people do you give credit to in helping you advance your art in clowning?
I had always been intrigued by magic. In the 10th grade we had a child development class and each one of us students had to do a lesson plan. For the entertainment, I wanted to do magic. Mrs. Marshall, the teacher, agreed that maybe a clown character would be fun for the preschool kids that were going to be brought in. It was pretty scary. I had no idea what I was doing.
The make-up was horrible. I used white shoe polish. (See pic) I began to read books and talk to people in theater. We didn’t have the internet like we do today.
The whole program went fairly well even though I was a scary looking clown. Before long some of the elementary classes were asking me to come and perform for them. Over the next two years I was doing shows pretty regularly.
By the time I was a senior in high school, the guidance counselor Miss Umbs informed me about Clown College. Amazingly enough I was accepted for the 1987 session. And it’s been a lifelong passion ever since.
For some reason Lou and Frosty (instructors at the Clown College) thought it always got a huge laugh when I big fella was playing the “Ma” in a gag
5. Are you involved with any clown organizations?
I belong to several organizations. Some local, some on a national level.
6. How do you feel your clown has evolved over time? How did you settle on the particular style and design of your clown or the personality you try to project as a clown?
Herky the Clown
My character has aged in place. Herky was bald, older looking clown by most counts. I had actually started out as a white face clown. But after training and character development, the inner self comes oozing out through your pores.
Projecting Herky is just self-promotion. Inside I am that fun loving; help anyone I can, practical joker that is Herky. Herky and Dale are pretty much inseparable.
7. I have learned a little more about clowns and I know there are different types of clowns, What kind of clown are you and what do you feel is your clowns most interesting characteristic?
I am definitely an Auguste style clown. Herky is very patriotic; he loves his country and his fellow countrymen.
8. Have you ever worked in a Circus and if so which ones?
I have had the privilege of touring with the Kelly Miller Circus when it was 3 rings under a big top. I’ve worked many shrine circus dates for the late George Hubler of the International Circus of the same name. I’ve done some local TV spots; the class of 1987 was featured with Dick Van Dyke on a TV special all about Clown College.
In the 1987 Dick Van Dyke Show this was the amazing set we got to perform on. trap doors, hidden panels, it was great
1987 Herky and Dick Van Dyke
Kelly Miller Burglars the safe cracker gag
Kelly Miller 3 ring ticket wagon
9. What kind of functions are you hired for example: conventions, parties…
I still do public functions. Corporate events, school assemblies. Just about anything I am asked to be at. I have also mixed a lot of the clown and magic into ministry work. It’s a neat “medium” if you will to teach bible stories in an interesting manner.
10. Do you have bits that are standard in the clown world or do you create your own acts?
There are some standard bits in the world of clowndom, but I usually have to put my own spin on things. I have attended lectures, watched other performers, and although the material they were teaching was stellar, it didn’t always work for my character.
Ahhhh yes the old skeleton chase…..
11. Do you use props?
Props are a necessary item in any show. I usually stick to the basics though. I met a clown once who just kept pulling prop after prop after prop out of an oversized gym bag. After 3 minutes the kids were all bored and out of control.
Learning how to sew with the seamstresses so I can make outfits and props
11A. If so did you make them yourself?
Some props are handmade, many are off the shelf, and I have some really talented friends who are able to help with custom stuff.
12. If you are in a parade do you ride anything? Bike, Unicycle, Clown car?
Parades are great. I usually like to ride on some kind of vehicle. I was in an accident YEARS ago and often makes it difficult to walk long distances. Fire trucks are awesome. We have a HERKY day in Massillon Ohio every year at Meadow Wind Health Care center. It’s always a fun guess for the kids to figure out how I will arrive. Once by ambulance, motorcycle, horseback, antique car. Right now we are working on a miniature fire truck that will be used in parades as well as fire education at local schools and fire departments.
Herkys parade fire truck
13. Is there video we can watch of you on the web acting as a clown for us to enjoy?
There are several videos on you tube if you type in Herky the Clown Ohio they will come up. Right now I am on face book, and our web page is down for updates. We will be doing lectures in both clowning and magic and selling our products via the web. I’m always willing to help others any way I can.
Here are Dale “Herky” Smith web contact information
Dale Smith (Herky) on Facebook
Dales Facebook page
If you happen to be in the Ohio area and you need a great clown – call Herky!
I hope you have enjoyed this post about another wonderful clown.
Until next time. Happy Clowning!
Thanks to Dale for all his help in creating this blog.
Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Clown artist to the world
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