Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jeffrey Potts AKA Bungles The Clown. Jeffrey is from Canton, Ohio and is very active in clowning and sharing his gift with others. I will have 2 follow-up posts, the first will feature the painting I did of Jeffrey, the second one will be about the American Clown Academy which Jeffrey is co-creator of. I have enjoyed working with him on our painting project and I am sure you will like him to. So on with the interview…
1. How long have you been a clown?
I been Clowning since the age of 13, which means it’s been a part of my life for the better part of 30 plus years.
2. Who inspired you to become a clown?
I wouldn’t say I was ” inspired”, but more like “given the opportunity”. Growing up, I was interested in special effects and movie make-up. I would often times create copy or create characters by dressing up like them. My grandmother would dress as a clown for church events and offered me the chance to participate with her. Being able to entertain my peers without them knowing who I was, became a magical experience and was the spark that ignited my desire to understand this unique art form.
3. What people do you give credit to in helping you advance your art in clowning?
During my early years I was self-taught. I did library research and watched videos of old comedians. In the mid 80’s, my grandmother signed me up for some weekend class being taught by a graduate of the famous Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey
Clown College. The instructor’s name to this day escapes me. In 1992 I had the opportunity to once again be taught by another graduate of Ringling…Dale “Herky” Smith. During that time, Dale and I presented multiple performances together, which became some great “On the Job Training”.
In 1994, I auditioned for a chance to attend Ringling’s Clown College, and was accepted for the class of ’95. Unfortunately I turned down this once in a lifetime opportunity due to family obligations. Over the years I have associated with many entertainers who make clowning (and other performance venues) their livelihood. These personal times of teaching have greatly increased my understanding and presence as a clown. I also make myself available to others who want to learn. I helped create The American Clown Academy because of my desire to share with others.
4. Are you involved with any clown organizations?
I do not participate in any Alleys due to the fact that there are none nearby. I have belonged to local Magic Clubs, but find that the particular level of growth and professionalism wasn’t conducive to my growth as an entertainer. I did at one time belong to COAI and WCA, two large clown organizations, but I found myself at a different level or having different goals than most who participate.
5. 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?
I am a clown. I believe a true clown does not put on a mask or become a different character. Clowning is an extension of yourself, that ability to allow others to see who you really are. I also want my audience to see themselves, so I use the art form of clown to help my audience discover who they are. That’s the way I am in real life also, it’s always about the success of others.
6. 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?
Bungles the Clown is an Auguste Clown and the name is taken right from a thesaurus and means ” to mess up”…which seems to be what happens to my character quite often. I am a “jack of all trades, master of none”. My skills include Juggling, Balloon Sculpting, Magic, and Physical Comedy. I am a Prop Builder, Producer, Technician, Make-up Artist and Performer.
Follow Bungles on Facebook.
7. Have you ever worked in a Circus and if so which ones?
I have worked for the George Coronos Circus back in the day. Now-a-days I do mostly stage shows and such.
8.What kind of functions are you hired for example: conventions, parties…
I consider myself a Family Edu-tainer which means I entertain and educate audiences composed of families. Sometimes performances for select groups (adults, senior citizens, etc) arise but I try to encourage full family functions.
I am what is known as a Double-Timer. I perform full-time and work in the steel mill full-time. My flexible work schedule allows for development of the business and the unique participation of my family has also allowed for great success. I am a family man, so much so, I incorporated them into my act so we could be together over the years. I never forced them, but allowed them to make their own decision how much they wanted to participate. Church is also a big part of our lives. I oversee children’s ministries and my wife is the a church secretary. I direct a puppet ministry and vacation bible schools. My children are involved in many ministries also. I think that our family is a unique twist on the idea of “the family that plays together, stays together”. Juggling what some would call a real world job with a fantasy job and including your family and friends in what you do is an intriguing thought.
9. Do you have bits that are standard in the clown world or do you create your own acts?
Every clown should be unique in their performance. I try to create routines and props that are unique to be, but I’ve been known to present a tried and true classic piece of comedy. Even when borrowing these pieces, the goal is always to make them unique to my character. I am well-known for using “pies” in my shows and also creating a unique, safe, foam rubber “pie shells” for throwing. By the way we don’t use REAL pie filling, either.
10. If you were in a parade did you ride anything? Bike, Unicycle, Clown car?
I’ve been in parades using props to entertain the audience. Walking in a parade as opposed to riding a float or bike, etc., I believe, allows that little bit of personal interaction that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
11. Is there video we can watch of you on the web acting as a clown for us to enjoy?
Yes there are several, I once coordinated the old “clown car” routine in a parade. We would start and stop periodically to load or unload all of the clowns into the “tiny” car. I do own a different clown car today and you can even watch us do this fun routine on the internet. (the video is posted at the bottom)
12. How do you pass on any clown wisdom to fellow younger clowns who are starting out in the business?
I have been honored over the years in many so many humbling ways. Many of the awesome opportunities have included lecturing for various clown organizations at their conventions. Teaching others who have a desire to grow in this art form is an incredible responsibility that I take seriously and enjoy immensely
I have had the unique privilege to participate in some special projects including the Grand Opening of the International Clown Hall of Fame
and interview segments for the movie/documentary Greasepaint.
I have been immortalized as a RON LEE Sculpture
and most recently in painting from by Patty Vicknair
13. What are you long-term goals in clowning?
I don’t always perform in clown. I have created different characters over the year for specialty performances.
I have recently created a fitness program titled FIT-IS-IT where I teach kids the importance of good nutrition and exercise. While I don’t do this in clown, I still create the comedy atmosphere using my animatronic (robotic)friend “WhooCan the Toucan”.
YouTube Videos of Jeffrey
Places on the Web to see Jeffrey Potts/Bungles the Clown:
I hope you have enjoyed this post about another wonderful clown.
Until next time. Happy Clowning!
Thanks to Jeffrey for all his help in creating this blog.
Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Clown artist to the world
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Please like this blog and share among your clown friends. All comments are welcome!