Great Clown Portraits Are Just The Beginning!!!!

Posts tagged ‘Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus’ Clown College’


Circus Medallion Creation Video

I have been creating a a unique design in my art studio for the past 1  1/2 years…

The project has been well documented in photos and video with over 100 videos on Facebook live.  I have also created a few videos showing the process of painting several areas. This is the one I made on the Circus Medallion Creation.

Circus Medallion Creation-Art Studio Revamp
Artist Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair
I am currently working on finishing a huge project of turning my art studio into a unique design. The inside of a circus tent … with a monkey and so far 25 clowns and baby elephants… Check it out on my blog or on Youtube or on Facebook Fan page – PSOVART
I have painted almost the whole thing on Facebook Live…
Music Kevin MacLeod – Fig Leaf Rag

Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Clown artist to the world

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The Hole In The Tent Creation Video

I have been creating a a unique design in my art studio for the past 1  1/2 years…

The project has been well documented in photos and video with over 100 videos on Facebook live.  I have also created a few videos showing the process of painting several areas. This is the one I made on the The Hole in the Tent.  The hole was created by the Monkey- who is on top of the door with the scissors, the clown is trying to coax the monkey down to take away the sissors with a banana.  Through the hole we can see mountains, a lake, trees, and a hot air balloon up in the sky.

This whole area was created because in the design of my circus tent room, the framing did not have the same arch as the ceiling in the rest of the room, do to the area being the inside corner in the framing of the room.

The Hole In The Tent -Art Studio Revamp

Artist Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair

Located in Fayetteville Arkansas

Music by Kevin MacLeod Modern Jazz Samba



Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Clown artist to the world

Follow my art on Facebook

Please like this blog and share among your clown friends. All comments are welcome!

Baby Elephant Sales Team Creation Video

I have been creating a a unique design in my art studio for the past 1  1/2 years…

The project has been well documented in photos and video with over 100 videos on Facebook live.  I have also created a few videos showing the process of painting several areas. This is the one I made on the Balloon Sales team.

My Balloon Sales Team -Art Studio Revamp

Artist Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair

Music by Kevin MacLeod Comic Plodding and Bumble March

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!

Purchasing Prints of Pat Cashin Painting

pattys logo

I am so honored to be allowed to paint Pat Cashin.  You can tell by the many posts on Facebook he was beloved in the clown world.  Friends and family have lost a truly wonderful person who really loved to make people laugh.  His big boisterous laugh that made you laugh till your sides hurt will be missed. 

When I initially contacted Pat about painting his portrait as part of my series he graciously consented.  I asked him at the World Wide Circus Summit in July of 2015. Then over the last year I asked him again because I had a bad bike wreck and my memory was/is a little off and he reminded me that he had given consent. 

The image I was mostly interested in was the one you see on Facebook a lot with the bright colors which is the same clown but a different pose as the center one in my painting.   I thought it would make a great painting for my series.  I still may paint it if Terry will let me as part of the series.  He was supposed to be #34 in my series… I am only on #27 and #28 will be started as soon as I finish the art studio revamp murals… In the meantime I felt the overwhelming urge that  I just had to paint him NOW…. so I asked and Terry said I could. 

I was just going to paint the one image I had in mind…. however the painting took on a life of its own.  I don’t know if any of you have ever painted in watercolor but usually watercolors are not this vibrant or as detailed…. (Which is kind of what I am know for, locally.) 

To paint 5 images of the same person in different makeup and hair and outfits and have them all turn out looking like my conception that I printed and how I envisioned it in my head is well CRAZY DIFFICULT… and to do it in unforgiving watercolor…. on my. 

So I spent 65.5 + hours which if I were sell it in a gallery I would ask $2500. for my take home pay which only comes out at 38 dollars an hour…. But I have a heart for clowns and tend to offer cheaper to them because I know that usually they are not rolling in dough unless the gag requires it… so I probably will sell it for $600.  Which doesn’t come out to very much per hour.  So as you can see I don’t do it for the $$$ but because I love it..   I do not have the time to deal with galleries, so if you’re interested you will have to contact me for prints or the original.

I pay to each of my clowns 25% above my cost.  So understand they get a piece of the pie so they are happy when we have a sale.

For right now the only way to get a print is to order direct from me.  Each print comes with a Signed Certificate of Authenticity and is signed by me.  Then they are shipped to you in the least expensive way I can and still protect the print and get it to you fast.

Giclee Fine Art Paper Prints:

9 X 12  $45. + shipping to you (easiest to ship in Photo mailer $6.00)

11 X 14 $65. + shipping to you

16 X 20 $116. + shipping to you

18 X 24 $135. + shipping to you

Giclee Prints on Canvas: 1 inch thick black sides with wire ready to hang.

9 X 12 – $100               11 X 14 – $125

16 X 20 – $200            18 x 24 – $250

+ Shipping to you

Anything larger then that is possible but I would have to check with my printer.

So if interested  contact me through this blog, or Message me on my Facebook Fan Page PS-OV-ART Patty Sue O’Hair- Vicknair Artist or my personal page Patty Vicknair or email me at and we will start the process of getting your print ordered.

Click here to order Canvas Print

Click here to order Fine Art Paper Print

The photos I have in this post are – The painting “The Many Faces Of Pat Cashin”  -the constructed photo I used to paint the painting.  – Examples of Clown Giclee prints of my work on Fine Art Paper and An original painting with 2 Giclee Prints On Canvas so you can see the quality of the prints.  They really are just as vibrant.

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This is the rough draft of the original photos that I started with.

This is the rough draft of the original photos that I started with.

Example of 2 Canvas Giclee prints on either side of the original painting.

Example of 2 Canvas Giclee prints on either side of the original painting.

Example of some of my Clown Paintings as Giclee Prints on Fine Art Paper

Example of some of my Clown Paintings as Giclee Prints on Fine Art Paper

2016-08-14 17.14.26Example of what it would possible look like framed on your wall.  Does not include Frame

Share your clowning experience with this blog. 

First 23 Clowns Signfacebook QR PSOVART2013-03-03 20.50.10

This blog is about clowns.  All kinds of clowns.  I want to share your story.  If you reply to this post here or send me an email I will share your clown story with my readers.   Feel free to share links, photos, videos, blogs, Facebook or web pages whatever you would like to spread the word about your business, clown ministry or just to share the your history of clowning.

This blog is also about clown portraits which I myself paint or other artist have painted. So if you have some great photos and would like to be considered for a portrait share them so we can begin a dialogue.  I am looking for images to paint constantly but I am in high demand and there is a long waiting list so please have patients, I will get to you eventually.  This is a great problem to have as an artist but not to great for my clients. Sorry.

I hope to hear about some great clowns on here.  Please share your clown history with my audience.

Thank you

Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Clown Portrait Fine Artist

World Wide Circus Summit 2015 Memories


This July 15-18 I had the pleasure of attending the World Wide Circus Summit 2015 held in Springfield, MA. at the Big E Fairgrounds.  I was invited by Joe Barney and Lane Talburt.  After looking into what it was all about, I decided that this would be a wonderful opportunity to feature my Clown Artwork and  possibly make a few sales and lots of Circus Connections.

As an outsider looking in who was not raised in the circus it has been a long struggle to  meet clowns on Facebook and befriend them and to be allowed to paint their image and win their trust.  I strive to capture the true clown persona and depict the makeup correctly which is important, because they are all part of the clown history.  I pay all my clowns 25% of any funds above my cost for any prints sold and I do not charge to paint them.

This was a great opportunity to meet many I had followed online in person and a few I had painted already in person to.  It was a blast!!!!!!!

Ok I tried to upload the photos here but only have  so much room for photos and info so I decided to delete these and upload them to my Flickr site instead.  Please follow the link provided and you should be able to find all 1500 images unedited and free to download.

Click here to be taken to the photos on FLICKR


Please check out my artwork while here.  I love clowns and have painted many of your friends with many more to come!

Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Artist

Leave me a comment if you want I will reply!



Watercolor Clown #17 – Mark Carfora

2013-03-03 20.50.10

Hello Fellow Clown Lovers,

Clowns – I love them!  I love to paint bright, colorful, happy images and clowns fit right in with that.

Info about myself and the clown portrayed here in this blog will be at the bottom for not let’s get to the painting….


Watercolor Clown #17 –

 Mark Carfora

Original SOLD

Mark has such a happy expression on his face and such wonderful coloring that I had a great time painting his image.  I hope you enjoy the photos provided below that document the creation of this fun painting.

I like to take pictures along the way as I paint so you can see the creation from start to finish.  Enjoy!  Leave me a note if you like the painting.












Art Prints

About the Artist:

I have painted clowns for several years.  Until recently I focused on painting them in Acrylics on canvas, but I have renewed my love of Watercolor and I am currently working on a series of paintings that incorporates great clowns (most of whom I have made friends with on Facebook) and watercolor on small affordable 9 x 12 watercolor paintings. My goal is to create 75 or more watercolor clowns in the 9 X 12 size.  I hope to sell thru Facebook or directly to the buyer and hopefully sell a few to the proud clown collectors out in  the world.

Each image will be on Canson 140 LB  Watercolor paper 9 X 12.  Each image will be mailed in a document mailer with a certificate of authenticity. Let me know if your interested or if you have a clown image for me to consider for the series.

Why I paint Clowns: For the record I do paint other things besides clowns but I have a passion and a love for clowns.  I paint my clown images with pride.  Many of the clowns I have met in person, or I am friends with on Facebook.  Some I have sought out because I came across a photo I liked. Others have found out about my work through their friends and came to me.  Each image is personally vetted.  I am looking for a certain look or feel from my paintings.  Not every image presented to me is right for a painting.

I am a skilled artist. I paint both in acrylic and watercolor. Neither of these mediums are easy or forgiving (especially watercolor). I have spent 40 years perfecting my skill. The fact that, I as an artist choose to paint some of the sweetest, funniest, most colorful, and always happy portraits you will ever find anywhere, is a matter of personal choice.

I realize that not everyone will get it or be on board with what I do. I realize there is a select market for my work. I am ok with this. I have faith that the clown and circus industry will surround me with love and laughter and purchase my paintings and prints. This is a very select market to sell to – I get it. You either love clowns or you don’t. I have been working for years to earn the trust of my clown friends and I will do my best to depict their clown persona, so that those who have had the pleasure of interacting with that clown in the past can remember and cherish those memories every time they look at one of my prints or paintings.

I am striving to be the best artist who paints clowns, I am following on the heels of Jim Howle (whom I have met and truly love) and Red Skelton (whom I wish I had met) I am not comparing my skill to theirs, but those are who I relate to.  … It is an honor to truly depict the magic of a clown, to catch the sparkle in the eye that has delighted thousands of children. If you’re good to the clown world they will be good to you.  Sincerely Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair.

Not for Commercial Use  

Copyright 2014 Patty Sue O’Hair- Vicknair Artist PSOVART

Click below for the direct Zazzle link below to Mark’s page to buy this painting on various products.

Click here for more great items with Mark’s image – T-Shirts and mugs and stuff…

Prints are available direct from the artist.

For those of you interested in any of the clown watercolor painting prints. There are 2 ways to get prints.
1. I will post the image on several sites, with links found on my page associated with the clown image. Also there are links from my page directly to the pages where all my art can be found for prints. All you do is choose the one you want, the size, how you want it printed (canvas, paper, etc.) and pay for it they will ship it to you. Here are some sites I am on. (fine art prints, cards, phone cases) (posters, t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, etc…) and you can order originals or prints from here. Email me direct at or call me direct at 479-601-5277

2. You can buy direct from me. I will order a print from my printer and provide a signed Certificate of Authenticity along with signing the painting. Your cost will be determined by the size you want + shipping to your location.
9 X 12 = $45.00
11 x 14 = $65.00
16 X 20 = $116.00
Each clown I paint receives a share of the proceeds, so rest assured I am selling these images with their blessing. If interested either message me on Facebook or email me at we can handle the transaction by Paypal

Until next time. Happy Clowning!

Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair Clown artist to the world

Across the top of this blog you will find pages dedicated to my art.  Please take a few minutes to look them over.

Follow my art on Facebook

Scan QR to head straight to the Facebook Fan page

Please like this blog and share among your clown friends.  All comments are welcome!

klown paintings

Copyright on all images of this painting and the painting itself belong to the artist PSOVART Patty Sue O’Hair – Vicknair 2015

Follow me on Facebook to watch each clown being created.

Follow me on Facebook to watch each clown being created.

Introducing Ron Maslanka AKA Sam the clown

Today we have the pleasure of meeting Clown #16 from my Watercolor Clown Series, Ron Maslanka AKA SAM THE CLOWN.  Ron lives in Howell, New Jersey so if you’re looking for a clown for your events be sure to check him out.

I will have a follow-up post which will  show the creation of his watercolor painting.  Please take the time to check it out.  Prints are available from “me” the artist or from many of the print on demand sites.  Ron also benefits from any sale of one of his prints.

sam the clown copyHow long have you been a clown?

I’ve been a clown since the day I was born…just didn’t realize it till I got a summer job performing at Great Adventure in 1975!

Who inspired you to become a clown?

Steve Gerber’s Man-Thing comic book issues 5 & 6

Who do you give credit to in helping you advance your art in clowning?

So, so many….from the very beginning Karen “Prunes” & David Shore who helped me find my first face and costume, Mike Mochen and Penn Gilette who taught me to juggle and ride unicycle, to all the wonderful teachers at Clown College, including Lou Jacobs and Frost Little and Barry Lubin, and Dean of Clown College Bill Ballentine, and his son Toby, who I clowned with years later, my Ringling Boss Clown, Steve LaPorte and my Producing Clown, the amazing Mark Anthony, to my longtime clown partner Mark “Happy Jack” Clark and, of course my daughter, Little Samy herself, Emily Season, who continues to challenge me..


 Where did you receive training & where did you get your first big break?

1st break- Great Adventure gig-training began there, then Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey-Circus Clown College, Blue Show, and every days since….

 Are you still Clowning?

Since 1975, Yes!


Are you involved with any clown organizations?

I’m Ringling Alumni, but no formal associations other than my own production company Aardvark Entertainment and Emily Season’s Dragonfly Productions.

What kind of clown are you?

I’m an auguste.


Tell us about your particular clown image and how you decided on that look?

Sam is me…

Have you ever worked in a Circus and if so which ones? 

Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus

sam 1

What kind of functions are you hired for example: conventions, parties…

Promotional events mostly, some school shows and corporate and private functions.

Do you have bits that are standard in the clown world or do you create your own acts?

I LOVE the classic clown gags and I perform Dead and Alive and Washer Women and all those whenever I can, but most of my stuff is original.

Do you use props?  If so do you make them yourself?

Yes, props…  mostly made by me.

If you are in a parade  do you ride anything? Bike, Unicycle, Clown car?

I’ve ridden parades on a unicycle and walked parades on stilts.


Is there video we can watch of you on the web acting as a clown for us to enjoy?

View Video of Sam the Clown on the Dragonfly Productions Web Page

 Sam The Clowns Web page

The Magic Aardvark on Facebook

Dinosauron On Facebook

 Do you have any clown wisdom to pass on to fellow younger clowns who are starting out in the business?

A Clown is a “collector of moments…”


If you can say one word that summed up all your years of clowning – what would it be?   


10516804_10154316983700263_6520794443979204985_n What are you long term goals in clowning?

Long term: keep doing this as long as I still love it…Shorter term: next big project: Dinosaur Circus!


Ron Maslanka “SAM the Clown”

PO Box 274

Howell, NJ 07731


Dragonfly Productions

Party and Event Entertainment

Ron Maslanka

Sell Art Online

 I hope you have enjoyed this post about another wonderful clown.

Until next time. Happy Clowning!

Thanks to Ron for all his help in creating this blog.  I hope this was an accurate portrayal of this amazing clown.

Patty Sue O’Hair –Vicknair Clown Artist

Follow my clown art on Facebook

Please like this blog and share among your clown friends.  All comments are welcome!

The next post will be the painting progression. Check it out!

clown art canvas prints

Introducing Jonathan “Mitch” Freddes


I will have a follow-up post which will  show the creation of his watercolor painting.  Please take the time to check it out.  Prints are available from “me” the artist or from many of the print on demand sites.  Jonathan also benefits from any sale of one of his prints.

Jonathan was nice enough to let me call him and we talked and laughed for 2 hours.  He has lived a very enviable life in the circus.   He has a blog in which I have re-posted lots of his answers and added a few comments of my own, with his blessing.

  How long have you been a clown?

Jonathan started clowning in 1974 when he went to clown college.  His class had 48 students. 

Class 48

“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College® was started in 1968 by Feld Entertainment® founder Irvin Feld to preserve the ancient and honorable art of clowning. Since its inception nearly 1,300 people have received diplomas with graduates touring with The Greatest Show On Earth®, performing on stage, in film and in other areas of the performing arts. Ringling Bros. Clown College alumni originate from 9 countries and 44 states domestically.” (From the

Here is a story from Jonathan about how it all started.

The Journey Begins…..

The year was 1974 when I left the mountains of Colorado, boarding a bus that would take me to sunny Florida. I was on my way to Ringling Brothers and  Barnum & Bailey Clown College in Venice. I was finally on my way!

 Three days later with no sleep and no shower I arrive at my destination. AT TWO IN THE MORNING! The bus stopped and kicked me off, but there was no bus station,only a small building with a bench in front of it. It used to be next to Smittys Steakhouse.
 For those who remember, there was a 7-11 nearby. I proceeded to go over there and call Bill Williams,who was the owner of Venice Villas, my home for the next 8 weeks. He told me they were across town and he would leave the key hanging on the door to my room.
I searched in the phone book for a cab company. There was only one. I called and was informed they closed at midnight. What to do.
Just then some rednecks in a pickup pulled up I asked if they could give me a ride. They said yes and off we went.
Finally I’m here and can now rest and take a shower! As I lay in the room it starts to get warm so I go to this thing called an air conditioner. Something I never saw in my life. I pushed the on button and layed back down. The room got hotter and hotter until I could stand it no more. This thing must not be working!
I decided to go outside and lay on a chaise lounge by the pool to cool off. Apparently I fell asleep, the next thing I know I’m being woke up by Bill Williams and the police shaking me! They thought I was a vagrant. Remember I hadn’t had a shower in three days.   I explained who I was and why I was outside. His air conditioning didn’t work. He told me to go with him and he would check it. He walked in, looked at it, pushed a button, and said it worked fine. As I looked at the button it said………..COOL!

(Here is another post from Trunk Stories below)

After the air conditioning started I decide to finally get a shower. Bill Williams had a different idea. He wanted me to meet Bill Ballantine the Dean of Clown College! He said he was in the office and would like to meet me. The thought of having to meet Mr. Ballantine  in my present state did not appeal to me. I didn’t know what to do so I decided I better go.

As Bill turned to introduce himself he just stared and said, ” You look a lot shorter than in your picture.” (In those days we sent swimsuit shots with our application.)
He then introduced me to my new roommate Mike Perry. Many of you may have known him. He went on to the Blue show that year, along with Rick Davis, Dick Monday, Peggy Ford, I believe there may have been one more. After that Bill turned and left.
Every time Mike would speak to me he would call me “Mitch”. I would tell him that was not my name. At which point he would apologize and explain that I reminded him of his best friend and that he would try to remember. As others arrived and we went around meeting people he would say, “Hello my name is Mike and this is Mitch” I would remind him and once again he would apologize.
 As we entered the building the first day they had a bulletin board with Polaroid shots of each student and their names below. I looked at mine and it said Mitch Freddes. After that I decided to give up and the name stuck. I had never met anyone named Mitch in my entire life! So goes the story of Mitch.

Clown School was very intimidating because everyone who was around Jonathan  was doing some skill such as  juggling and various circus acts.  Jonathan didn’t know why he was there cause he couldn’t do any of that stuff.  But when school was over and they offered contracts to some of the students, he ended up being one of them. So began his amazing clowning career.

He has a wonderful blog post from his blog Trunk Stories about the intimidating circumstances he found himself in on the first day of school… here it is:

What am I doing here?

That first day was so intimidating. I remember looking at all these people doing all kinds of things juggling, magic, tumbling, etc. You name it and someone was doing it. And of course my roommate was riding his unicycle around the edge of the pool, and even riding it off the end of the diving board. Things I never saw in my life!
 Unlike most of the people there I was a musician from a music family for generations back. I was on my way to college to pursue my music career when my mother read a story about Peggy Williams ” First Girl Clown To Graduate From Clown College
I came home from work one day and she showed me the article. It was then she suggested it might be something I would like because of my outgoing personality. I applied, and the next thing I knew I was on my way. I think my mother must have seen something I didn’t even realize about myself. She was good at that sort of thing.
As I  stood there watching all of this talent  I was asking myself,”What am I doing here?” Just then I heard this voice behind me say, “Can you do any of this stuff?” The voice had a real  southern accent. I turned to say no when the voice said, “Hi my names Ruth Chaddock  from Quero, Texas.” At this point I felt more at ease knowing there was someone else from a small western town, and didn’t feel quite as intimidated. Thank you Ruth! From that day until now we have remained very special friends.
 Just think if we would have known the talent that surrounded us. The likes of Bill Irwin, Barry Lubin, Dick Monday, Steve Laporte, Ruthie, Dale Longmire. Just to name a few. There are many more that went on to be very successful in some area of show business. Don’t worry I remember everyone.
 The first thing we did, was go in the ring, one at a time and we were told to make everyone laugh. When it was my turn I was scared to death, and had no clue what to do. I entered the ring and sat there  scratching my head wondering what would make them laugh. 30 seconds….. 45 seconds….. 1 minute…..  nothing! And then it happened. I heard a small snicker, and then a laugh, and then more, and more . Soon everyone was laughing. At that point I knew what I was doing there.”

 Who inspired you to become a clown?

Jonathan had amazing opportunities to see and work with some of the great clowns of Ringling history that any clown today would be envious of.  During clown college he only had Lou Jacobs teach for one week but was able to work with him in later years and had a great friendship.  During college they went on a bus ride to Circus World in which he got to see the Clown Car Routine on the big Imax screen and actually see Lou Jacobs perform his hunting dog routine.

Here is an excerpt from his Trunk Storie Blog

“While we were there we met Lou Jacobs. Watching him do his hunting dog routine was like watching a living cartoon. Each movement so precise and clear. The story was told without words, and there was no doubt what he was telling us. Unlike later Clown Colleges we only had Lou a short time. He was still a big part of the show so they wouldn’t let him go for very long.”

Lou Jacobs was his mentor – One of Jonathan’s friends was Lou Jacobs who helped him with timing and presentation of being a clown.  One of the gags that Jonathan does is called the Barrel gag and the barrel itself was passed down  to Jonathan from Lou Jacobs, the barrel is over 100 years old and they don’t make them anymore, so it is very special and he still has it to this day.

Lou also showed Jonathan some spot gags (where you walk around and stop and interact with the audience)  that are part of Character Clowning which is what he is know for to this day.

Here is a repost from Jonathan’s Blog Trunk Stories about the Barrel and walk around spot gags:

“Roll out the Barrel

It was my first year on the show. I was still doing the walk around with the big fish over me, and the levitation stop gag.

 I was trying to find that special thing that would be all mine. We were allowed to experiment back then and try different things every day in the walkarounds, come in, or stop gags. This is how you learned.

 Other than the production gags nothing else was set in stone . You also had the freedom to change your makeup until you found that perfect one. Sometimes this could take years.
 Of course this was done under the supervision of Frosty and the other veteran clowns. This policy changed over the years. I suppose because of the passing of Lou Jacobs, Bobby Kaye, and Duane Thorpe. Together the three of them had over 100 years of experience. If they didn’t know about clowning who would?
 Finally the retirement of Frosty Little who was Boss clown for 20 years. I can only speculate because that was during a time when I had left Ringling.
 I was practicing my balancing and hat trick skills trying to come up with some different for a track gag. I would go out and try doing these things and nothing but applause was received from the audience. NO LAUGHS! Where do I get them? I was really getting frustrated about it.
 Lou noticing my frustration came up to me one day holding a wooden hoop About 14″ in diameter. He said to me, ” Your doing some good tricks but they’re not funny.”  After that he showed me the hoop and told me it was something I could add that would make it funny. Then he doubled up his 6′?” frame and slid through it as if  it was nothing!
 After that he showed me a few more tricks I would be able to do with it. He told me to take it and work with it, add it to what I was doing, and make it funny. He said I could do a whole act just with that hoop.
 Immediately  I started to take it out on the track and try it during the stop gags. I GOT LAUGHS! I continued to keep working at it the rest of the year. I liked getting those laughs.
 When we got to winter quarters Lou showed up with a red barrel. He told me it used to be Kinkos barrel and he had it sitting around in his garage.
 Kinko was a clown in the early part of the 20th century who used to do comedy contortion with it. His real name was Glenn Sundbery? Probably spelled wrong. I actually saw a drawing of Kinko using it at the turn of the century. Lou used it sometime in the thirties. He gave it to me in the seventies.
 He told me that the tricks he showed me with the hoop could be done with the barrel and showed me how to do it. I created an act with it that eventually became my signature.
In fact, when Lou went to Clown College to teach, the show needed something to fill in for the little car gag. They asked me to do it. What an honor this was. Center ring in “The Greatest Show on Earth” all by myself!  I sure made Lou proud.
 In the 90’s I took a break from clowning and donated it to a small circus museum in Venice owned by Fred and Laura Landrum, along with all of my costumes. In 2000 I got it back from them because I was going back to Ringling. Shortly after that they both died and I heard everything was sold on Ebay! Someone was watching over me and that barrel, I think I know who it was.
 I continue to do that gag today 35 years later. To this day, every time I do it I can still feel the spirit of Lou coaching me with his broken German accent and telling me to make it funny……”

Who do you give credit to in helping you advance your art in clowning?

At the time when Jonathan joined the Ringling show it was during a time that the show was transforming, as a result he was able to work with the old time tent clowns – Mark Anthony, Lou Jacobs, Bobbie Kaye, and Jim Howel.  The main thing they taught him was that he learned it takes years and years to bring people into your world.  So that the clowning is not a act or transformation your clown persona it is you,  the clown you present to the public is the same clown you would be back behind the curtain.

Here is a great story from his blog Trunk Stories:

(Jonathan was brought back to Ringling to show the younger clowns “Character Clowning” cause the circus felt the clowns were lost something from the clowns of years gone by and seeing him might help them.)

“Back in 2000, when I returned to the show after 20 years, I expected some changes.  Tim Holst had told me things had changed quite a bit, and to try not to be too surprised.  Walking into the arena for the first time, I noticed there were huge numbers made out of tape laid out on the floor.  What were these? We never had them in the past. I was soon to find out…

That first day of rehearsals was really full of surprises. After going through all the introductions, the director told us to line up at the Portal.  The what?  I looked around to see if I could figure out what was going on just by watching, but I had to ask what that was.   “The back curtain…” I was told.  The what?  In my day, it was called the back door.

Then, the director gave us each a number and told us he wanted a clown bust out. A what?  Another term I never heard before. So I just asked him what that was…

He began to explain to me that it was when all of the clowns would run out screaming and yelling and go to their number spot.  Ohhhh okay.  He told us we would do our skill in that spot. Our skill?  I really didn’t do too much in the way of “skills”, but I sure knew how to be a clown.

The director asked each clown what was their particular skill.  One clown said, “Balancing…”  the next guy said “Juggling…” and he just went down the line until  he got to me.  He asked me and I thought about it for a moment… then said, “I read a newspaper…”

The director looked bewildered and said to me,”Thats no skill!”  I had no other reply than, “The way I read one takes a lot of skill.”   I knew that the director had  no other choice but to give me the benefit of the doubt and let me show him. I figured with all of the chaos of the opening I would be subtle and read a newspaper. Now to me, THAT was clowning.

The first time we came out in rehearsal, I obliged this number system, and marched out to my number and started reading my paper.  Yes sir, I was reading my paper and ignoring all that was going on around me. We did it again. This time I brought a chair with me and sat down to read my paper.  We did it again, and this time I brought a chair and a table with a coffee cup. Yes, I sat down and drank the coffee and read my newspaper. This continued over and over, and every time I brought something more with me.  And I read my newspaper…

I finally ended up coming out with a chair, a table, a coffee cup, coffee pot, an extension cord…and… my newspaper.

I set up the chair and table with the coffee pot and cup. Then I would get all caught up in the extension cord, fight that for a bit, then finally get loose from it. I  would then look for a place to plug it in… all of this was going on during the Opening Parade.  After I would finally get the cord plugged in, I would pour a cup of coffee offer it to an audience member.  When they refused, I would sit down drink the coffee and… read my newspaper.  This would continue until the opening was over.

It was obvious that the Director wasn’t used to this type of clowning.  My how things had changed!  After a lot of coaxing, he gave in and let me do it.  Old fashioned Clowning prevailed…

Someone got a picture of my routine, and put it in the program. Ringling liked it so much they used it on their website for a number of years under Special Offers.

A few years later, that picture was used for some e-cards you could get for Valentine’s Day, and I was told that picture was the best selling one!

Again, old fashioned clowning prevailed.  I was so pleased….”

 Where did you receive training & where did you get your first big break?

Ringling Bros Clown College 8 weeks in 1974  Started with them right after college.

Ringling 1974-  1980   Kelly Miller Circus, and Barnum and Bailey Disney Ice Show and Jonathan had a show in Canada for a while.

Here is a great story from his blog Trunk Stories

I guess you’ll find out tomorrow

After 8 weeks of intensive training the day had finally arrived. The day we would present everything we had learned to Mr. Irvin Feld. We had learned all of the skills we needed and we were ready. Some had learned these things easier than others.I didn’t do too good in that area. I tried to juggle and got hit in the eye with a club so no more of that. Hovey decided it best I juggle scarves. Unicycle riding wasn’t so good either. I fell and scraped my ankles numerous times and figured it was not for me. I left that up to my room mate. He was outstanding on a unicycle and could do about anything on it.Instead Hovey found I was good at balancing objects. He called it vertical equilibristics Its the art of balancing various objects on your nose, chin, etc. This ended up being my main skill.There were some who really stood out. We had Dick Monday who had been a championship diver who did well in acrobatics and the trampoline. Steve LaPorte was a great stilt walker, along with Ruthie Chaddock. Ruthie was the first girl from Clown College to walk 6 foot stilts.

 One day she had a nasty spill. While walking stilts backstage she fell. She went through the back curtain and cracked her head on the edge of the bandstand. She ended up with a big bruise right in the middle of her forehead the size of an orange. Despite having this happen she continued to work putting her makeup on around it. Way to go Ruthie! I never got past 4 footers myself.

 Everyone had something to offer. Some just shined a little better than others. Despite my lack of skills I did have something else. Heart and desire. With these two things and a little perseverance I knew I could achieve my goal to become a clown.I was not too bad at sliding tables so I teamed up with Rick Davis and together this became our main gag. Besides all of the classic routines we had a lot of new ones too. Enough to fill a 2 hour show. Including Bill Irwin and Barry Lubin doing the ventriloquist, some great illusions with Dale Longmire and Bruce Guttilla, and Bill Irwins Spaghetti gag. Too many to list them all. Countdown. Makeup? check Costume? check Props? check. Everything seemed to be in order. Showtime! All the hard work had come down to this . Time to show our stuff.The local community was invited, along with some of the students parents . Enough to fill the house. Although we all wanted contracts with Ringling there were plenty of other opportunities. That diploma was like gold. You also had producers from other circuses there passing out cards. If you didnt get a contract for Ringling they would tell you to call the next day and you could go to work for them. Usually for more pay. There were a lot of other shows, and they all had Clown Alleys. There was also Circus World. We just wanted to be clowns!

After the gags came the big finale. A dance number set to the tune of Sanford and Son. Its still a hard song to listen to. I didnt do everything perfect but, I knew I had given it my best.

This is how it worked for contracts. Mr Irvin Feld would meet with the staff and decide who he would give contracts to. If you got called to the arena the next morning you knew you had a contract. After the show we had a reception in the pie car in the back of the arena. I was in the corner eating and thinking about going home when I looked down and saw a pair of shoes. Nice ones too! As I looked up, standing in front of me was Mr. Irvin Feld!  He asked me, ” Do you like the circus?” My reply was, “Absolutley.” He then asked, ” Would you like to work for The Greatest Show on Earth?” I said, “Of course.” The last thing he said was,” I guess you’ll find out tomorrow.” and walked away.

What did he mean by that? It really got me thinking. I went back to the Villas and found my partner Rick Davis. Together we climbed on top of a semi trailer. It was there because of some construction that was going on at the Villas. We sat all night long talking about who we thought would get contracts and what we were going to do when we got home. I had already packed and was ready to go. As the sun came up we saw the van pull up. The driver got out I heard him calling my name and looking for me. I jumped down from that trailer and with four other people we were wisked off to the arena. I sat in the seats for what seemed like an eternity. And then I got called into the office. I was told I would be going on the new Bicentennial Show. I couldn’t believe my ears! Eleven of us went to the Red Show, and I believe five went on the Blue Show. I knew from that day on I truly was a clown.”

Back to Ringling in 2000 – was there for 7 years and over time saw more Character Clowns

Brought back to bring more character into the clowns. 

2004 Ringling opened 1 ring shows The Gold show now.  To go into smaller towns.  

In Jonathans day Ringling had over 30 clowns for each Circus show, now they do 15 clowns per unit and maybe 30 clowns for the 3 main shows.

 Are you still Clowning?

Every now and then Jonathan still clowns but really has settled into a stationary life with his wife.  After so many years on the road it is nice to have a place to call home that does not end up in a new town each morning.  He still keeps up with many of his clown pals through facebook and other media.

Not retired but taking it easy – Still does Special Engagements – local stuff – Still helps those who ask because of the travel he doesn’t go on the road anymore.

What kind of clown are you?

Auguste Clown with Tramp style movements – moves very slow – very methodical – every movement means something.

Below are the kinds of clowns and what their roles usually where in the various gags.

Auguste – Fall guy in most routines baggy clothes – usually

White face clown – straight man – doll clowns – very clean and bright colorful clown usually played the straight man – never took a slap, role of authority always wore gloves and any skin that was exposed was covered in white face.  Ruffles and tight fitting outfits.  The smart guy in the routines

Character Clown filled the void. Policeman or whatever is needed

Tramp clown considered a Character Clown.

Tell us about your particular clown image and how you decided on that look?

Here is a great story from his blog Trunk Stories

What a face!

Makeup!!!!!! This was like hearing reveille in the military. Every morning we would get the call. You see they wanted us in makeup every day so that we would get used to it. Not only did we have to learn makeup, we learned to make noses out of latex rubber. What better people to teach makeup than Bobby Kaye and Keith Crary. Both of them were meticulous when it came to makeup and costume.
 Bobby was a gentle man who was very receptive of the Clown College, and and what it meant for the future of clowning. He a true Master of his craft. He would take you under his wing and slowly nurture you along. Keith was a fun loving guy who never seemed to have a worry in the world. The precise way he put his makeup on was unbelievable. When he finished, it was if he measured each little mark on his face to exact size and shape, with the precision of an architect. He’s in Hollywood now has won many Emmys and other awards for his make up designs.
  The first thing I needed to know was whiteface or auguste. The whiteface was a more magical sort of clown. The auguste was more of the fall guy.  When I speak of  the two types I’m speaking from a traditional sense, not todays standards. There was also a third type called the character. He wore very little makeup. This was one Irvin Feld  didn’t particularly care for, so it wasn’t really pushed too much.
These days those lines aren’t as strict. In fact the whiteface is almost gone, and the character is more popular than ever. Funny how things change. The auguste seems to be hanging in there. We spent hours mugging in front of mirrors trying to find the shapes and wrinkles with different expressions, searching for that one unique look that was only yours. I had a hard time deciding which one was best for me. Whiteface? Auguste? Which one?
Noticing my frustration Bobby would calm me and assure me patience would win out. One morning he came in and told me he had dreamed of a makeup design that would work for me. It was white on the bottom blending to flesh on top. He painted the eyebrows on me with their familiar forlorn look. He also told me one should be short and one long. This is one thing which has never changed in 35 years. Thanks Bobby.
 When it came to noses I always wanted a small ball nose about the size of a ping pong ball. As everyone was molding all of these fancy noses I tried to make a mold of a perfect round nose. As much as I tried I couldn’t get it too look right. Again frustration set in. Keith came to me and said, “Why don’t you just use a ping pong ball.” So I did.

The ball was thin and had an edge that would cut my nose. I decided to make a mold of my real nose. I could then just glue the ball over the latex piece. If you look closely you can see it in the picture. I still use the same look of a small round nose the size of a ping pong ball. Thanks Keith. Some things never change.”

 Have you ever worked in a Circus and if so which ones? Do you have any great stories which you can share.

Yes, As I have mentioned I worked for Ringling twice.

Here is a great story about the first show and the preparation for it from the Trunk Stories blog:

Getting To Know You

After the graduation we had 10 days off until the rehearsals started. Most of the students went home.  I had planned to go home also when I received a call from home informing me my mother had contacted glaucoma and was losing her eyesight. Worried that she might go blind by the time the show got to Denver the following October, they decided to come to Venice to watch the opening of the show. Fearing it might be last chance she would have to see me perform. It would be an expensive trip for them, so they couldn’t afford for me to come home.

I was lucky the train  had just arrived in Venice and I was able to move right on to it. I was taken to the train by Charlie Smith the train master to show me my room. There was a door with a piece of masking tape that said ” Mitch Freddes, clown” Something about seeing my name there made me a feel really special.  Charlie told me to go to a hardware store and get a padlock. Unlike today we each had our own lock and no one else could have access to your room . That first year my salary was 125.00 a week. We paid 7.00 a week for the train. This was to cover clean sheets and porter service. Funny, I don’t remember anyone who used the sheets.
 We were also part of AGVA.  Which stood for American Guild of Variety Artists. This was a union for many different kinds of artists. With the train fee and union dues I cleared 85.00 a week and was very happy. The Clown Car was empty as most people had gone home on the break. It was quiet and kind of had a ghostly feel to it.  Although the room only measured 4 foot by 6 foot it was all you needed. At least it wasn’t a bunk, which is what I expected  from seeing the movie “The Greatest Show On Earth”. No matter how small it was it was still my home.
 About three days before rehearsals the other clowns started to arrive. The car started to fill and take on a new life. There was one room that was longer than the others. It was built for Richard Mann who was 6’7′ tall. To compensate for this the room next to it was a little bit shorter. This room belonged to Mike Padilla, one of our little people. There were ten rooms on both sides with a center hallway. On the end there was a kitchen with a stove and ten small refrigerators. Two of us would share each one of these. Right in the middle were three toilets and three sinks which we would all share. Very cozy! Richard Mann had gotten a bigger room on a different car so the tall room went to Dale Longmire who was also very tall.
The first day of rehearsals was one I will never forget. We all sat in the ring as Mr. Feld greeted everyone and welcomed us to the Winter Quarters. He then introduced the director Richard Barstow. He was a brilliant man who had been directing the show for 30 some years. He also was one of the most flamboyant characters I had ever met. As he grabbed the microphone he pointed at the band and they began to play. He started to sing and dance to the song “Getting To Know You.” As he went around the ring he would take us one at a time in front of every one and ask your name. Once you told him he would sing the song and walk with you all the way around the ring and have you shake hands with everyone. After this the rehearsals began. He always said I had calves eyes and loved to point it out to everyone. I still don’t know what he meant by that. For some reason he seemed to like me and always would always call me ” favorite.” He would say it in a kind of whiny voice which made me wonder what he really meant by it. I must say it was kind of irritating but, I loved the man.
Every time we would take a break he would come back with a whole new wardrobe. I always wondered where he kept all of those clothes! He never wore anything twice! As we started to put the clown routines together we had three types of gags we would use. Production gags involved all of the clowns in the ring we usually had two including the clown car. That first year in the car we had 18 clowns plus one driver and a two man giraffe inside a Datsun B-210. I was the back end of the giraffe. You have to start somewhere. The second type was a walkaround in which you would continuously walk around the track with some kind of sight gag. This was used as they set up the flying act. My first one was a giant foam rubber fish that fit over me leaving only my legs exposed. It was a man eating fish. I thought it was funny. The third was a stop gag which was a short gag usually about 2 or 3 minutes long. My first one was the levitation gag with Ruth Chaddock and Bruce Gutilla. I was the guy with the fake legs.
The clowns were always the first ones there and the last ones to leave. Always building props and rehearsing until sometimes midnight. About two weeks into it we would show Mr. Feld the gags that we had. We would show about 50 gags and maybe end up with 30. The show ran three hours plus the clowns worked 30 minutes before the show. We had a lot of spots to fill. That first year I made 13 different appearances every show. Three costume changes in the spec alone. This was the big production that would close the first half.
 After one month of rehearsing we were finally ready to open. That first show would be especially important for me. This may be the only time my mother would ever get to see me perform. After all, it was her idea to begin with.

Has your clown image changed over the years? 

Here is a great story about how the bulging cheeks got added to his character from his blog.

All this for $5.00 !

harmonica 2

It was 1977 and it was time to present the new season’s gags to Mr. Feld.  I was set to go; I had everything except a walkaround.  I had no idea what I was going to do!

So on the day we had to present, I just happened to be out and about in Venice and I couldn’t resist stopping in to the local music store.  I walked inside, and there hanging on the wall on display was a huge harmonica!  My mind started working, the wheels started turning… I figured it was a great clown prop!  I had to ask the guy if it was for sale, and he told me I could have it for $5.00!  Of course I bought it.  What clown wouldn’t buy a prop like that?

So after my day out shopping and scoring a massive harmonica, it was time to head to the arena to prepare for the evening events.  I hadn’t even stopped to think about the walkaround I was expected to have that evening!  I decided to head upstairs to the Attic, which is a sacred place above Clown Alley where old clown props are stored.  I was looking for something… anything that I could use to get through the presentation!  Nothing seemed to catch my eye.

Then it hit me!   I’m thinking “HUGE HARMONICA!”  But what could I do with it besides walk around with it?  Think…think…think…

Then it started to come to me.  I started to think about some every day clothes I wore almost daily: an old pair of overalls, and my oversize mountain climbing boots…   Suddenly, an entire character was born!   Adding a pillow in my belly was almost an afterthought, but it had to be…

At this point in time, Barry Lubin was doing Grandma, and he had a lot of whoopee cushions.  Ideas, Ideas!!  I asked him for one, split it open and put it on my head for a hat.   At the very least, this character would look funny and hopefully I could get by with that.

Standing at my trunk, I glanced at the bag of ping pong balls I would use for noses.  Hmmmm, could I put them in my mouth… play that giant harmonica… and when I pulled it away, my cheeks would remain puffed out?  YES! I had my walkaround!

The presentation began and I was nervous about whether or not this would be enough.   So often what seems funny to us, just doesn’t go over well.  To me, it seemed pretty funny!  I had great fun putting this character together!    Now it was my turn to show it.  I walked out with the harmonica in front of my mouth sat on the ring curb and started to rock out to the music.  I really went at it stomping my  feet and dancing around.  I waited for a break in the music and just at the right moment I pulled the harmonica away and wiped my brow.  I looked up to see Mr. Feld, and he was laughing hysterically!  It actually worked! I knew I had succeeded…

This character became very popular and in the following years I would do it more and more in the show. It really worked well for the seats in Come In.  With this character, I could do almost anything and get away with it!   At the time, I didn’t know what I had started but I knew it worked and I was having a blast doing it!

Fast forward to 2000: Tim Holst called me to the office in Palmetto to settle the contract for that coming season.  He specifically asked me if I still did the character with the ping pong balls.  I told him I did every once in a while but not all of the time.  “Well, we want you to do it all the time.”  Holst said.  I wasn’t sure I could, but told him I would sure give it a try.

He handed me the contract to sign.  When I read through it, it said, “Jonathan Freddes, clown with ping pong ball in mouth character.”

Wow!  All the time?    I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing.  It felt great that a character I had made up on a whim had been so successful and they wanted him all the time, but there’s a lot of pressure in doing that kind of thing.  It didn’t take long to figure out that doing it all the time was quite painful with regular sized ping pong balls.  I had to do a lot of experimenting until I found something I could use that was less painful.  I won’t even tell you what I finally found that worked. That’s my secret!

For the next seven years it was written exactly like that in my contract.  All of this, for $5.00!

 Having experienced life in Clown Alley – what was it like? 

Here is a excerpt from Jonathan’s blog about the 1st year and the amazing clowns he worked with.


For me Clown Alley was not just the place where the clowns dressed. It was also the people. Each one with his own special character. We had our own community within the area hidden behind those curtained walls.

 As a “first of may” I couldn’t have a more receptive group of people. We still had a lot of the people around from the Big Top days that welcomed us and try to steer us in the right direction.

First of all we had Lou Jacobs. He was a quiet man who would sit at his trunk with his three dogs. Knucklehead, Buffy, and PeeWee.
You didn’t hear him too much except for when he would see you having a hard time doing a gag. He was always there for advice and always would have solution to your problem. After all he had been on the show 50 years and seen everything.
 When asked if he thought something was funny he would reply, ” Did the people laugh?” If you said,”Yes.” he would come back with,” Well, than it’s funny!”
  If a gag had a lot of  useless jumping around he referred to it as “Spaghetti.” He was a master at simplifying movement so everything was clear and simple to the audience. In clowning every gag tells a story. If there’s too much movement its like reading a story in a different language. You won’t understand it.
 He was doing his little car routine that year on the show. I got chosen to help take care of it. This was a real honor for me as a young clown.

 In the movie “The Greatest Show on Earth” he worked along side Jimmy Stewart who played  the clown “Buttons.” One year we played Hollywood and Mr. Stewart came into the alley. He walked over to Lous trunk and said,” Hello Lou.” Lou looked up from his trunk and said, “Hello Buttons.”

 There was also Duane Thorpe. He was  known as “Uncle Soapy.” I’ve heard many different stories for the name and, since I don’t know the real story, I cant tell you why. He was always coming up with funny sayings such as” Who hit Nellie in the belly with a flounder!” Or, ” Who hired her.” These would always make us laugh and keep things happy. Towards the end of the season he would always say,”Save your money its a short season.” How right he was.
He had been a dancer on Broadway before joining the show. When we played New York he would always invite Bobby Short to the show. They knew each other from working on Broadway together .
Afterwards we would all go out and listen to Bobby play at a club. This would be the only time I saw him take his makeup off at the building. The rest of the time he took it off at the train. I noticed he always carried a bunch of newspaper in his trunk and often wondered why. I found out my first time in New York. To take the makeup off he used baby oil. So to keep it off the floor he would spread the newspapers all around his trunk!
 Mike Padilla was Lous partner. He was a little person from Argentina that spoke very little English. Even though he didn’t speak well you could tell what he meant just by his movements.
 Every night he would rush back to the train and cook a huge steak, take it to his room, close  the door and watch tv. You would always hear him laughing inside his room. One time he forgot to close the door completely. I walked by and peeked in to see what was so funny. There was no picture, only sound. He had taken a sharpie pen and drawn stick figures on the screen and was laughing at them hysterically!
 Frosty Little was our boss. He had come from the first Clown College in 1968. He ran a really tight ship. He would set up the alley so that everyone was next to someone they got along with.
 Frosty had a fascination with the Vikings who referred to heaven as “Valhalla”  So where all of the veterans sat in the alley was always called ” Valhalla”
 The elephants were trained in German and the word for move was “Hatre” Frosty liked this word and had his own version. He would always say “Hotterini” He would say this when he really needed us to move. It was also used as a greeting or whatever else he wanted it to mean. Just an all around word  used within the alley.
 He was our go between management and the alley.  There were numerous times he would go to bat for us. They trusted his judgement and he would usually win out.
 Dougie Ashton was another veteran. He was from a very famous Australian circus family. Very funny man both inside and outside the ring. He wore Charlie Chaplain style makeup and was famous for a striptease routine that would have you rolling on the floor!
 He started off the season with a brand new mirror. One day he dropped it and it shattered. He just picked up the biggest piece and continued to makeup. A few towns later he dropped that piece and broke it. Again he picked up the biggest piece. This continued to happen over and over until there were no more big pieces left. at this point he went to wardrobe and got a small  round mirror off of one of the costumes. It couldn’t have been more than 1/2″ in diameter. This is what he used for the rest of the season to put his makeup on.
 These are a few of the characters I was fortunate to work with that first year. All masters and all very unique people.”

Do you have bits that are standard in the clown world or do you create your own acts?

I do several acts…Barrel Act,  Table Rock with a partner, in 80’s he did the  Table rock act on his own, Fishing act,

Elephant leaps – jumping over Elephants using a spring board, Trampling Act with his son.

Do you use props?  If so do you make them yourself?

Jonathan makes all his props and and his costumes. That was taught by the old time clowns – all learned how to sew.

Is there video we can watch of you on the web acting as a clown for us to enjoy?

Lots on YouTube 


 Do you have any clown wisdom to pass on to fellow younger clowns who are starting out in the business?

Be Patient it will all come together.  That is something that Lou use to always stressed to all of the younger clowns… It doesn’t come all at once.  Patients and time  – don’t rush it. Clowning is about Life.

Took 10 years until Jonathan was finally settled into what his character came into be.

When you’re designing your outfit and character you have to create a total package – compete picture.

 If you can say one word that summed up all your years of clowning – what would it be?    *************Glorious*****************

Art Prints

I hope you have enjoyed this post about another wonderful clown.

Until next time. Happy Clowning!

Thanks to Jonathan for all his help in creating this blog.  I hope this was an accurate portrayal of this amazing clown.

Patty Sue O’Hair –Vicknair Clown Artist

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Please like this blog and share among your clown friends.  All comments are welcome!

The next post will be the painting progression. Check it out!

clown art canvas prints

Introducing Pricilla Mooseburger, a.k.a. Tricia Manuel

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I will have a follow-up post which will  show the creation of her watercolor painting.  Please take the time to check it out.  Prints are available from “me” the artist or from many of the print on demand sites.  Tricia also benefits from any sale of one of her prints.


Pricilla Mooseburger

Pricilla Mooseburger


1.. How long have you been a clown?

Thirty four years.  Started with Kit-N-Kaboodle Theatre Co. as a beginning clown in the summer of 1982

2. Who inspired you to become a clown?

A shriner named Ron Revak and an awesome clown named Paul Kusterman

3.What people do you give credit to in helping you advance your art in clowning?

Paul Kusterman was my first clown teacher. I learned a great deal from watching Tammy Parish. Heide Karp is amazing. 

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4. Where did you receive training & where did you get your first big break?

Ringling Bros. clown college was my most important clown training.

In the fall of 1982, she attended Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College. Out of 60 prospective candidates, she was chosen by her performance to receive a contract to work for the Greatest Show on Earth, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus (RBBBC). She toured three full seasons with the circus, performing as a clown in over 500 performances per year from 1983 to 1985. To further her clowning art, she decided to leave the circus. She was offered a position with Ringling, performing at Disneyland in Circus Fantasy. For its entire three-year run, she performed in the famous theme park. During this time, in the off-season, she developed her skills in Birthday parties, company picnics and did consecutive tours with traveling variety arts stage shows”.  (Reposted from her blog on

Mooseburger 1

5. Are you still Clowning?

Yes, not as much as I would like. I spend my time mentoring and teaching clowning. I write for a clown arts educational e-newsletter weekly and teach workshops on clowning around the country. It is my privilege to run Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp. It is a place where the very best teachers share their talents and love of the art of clowning.   

Camp 1


6. Are you involved with any clown organizations?

I have been a member in Clowns of America International and World Clown Association for many years. I have served on COAI’s board and have taught at their conventions. 


Clowns of America International

World Clown Association

7. How do you feel your clown has evolved over time?

In it’s hay day everyone wanted to be a clown. There was good money in doing parties. But there was a lack of education until Clown Camp at the University of LaCrosse in Wisconsin. I was fortunate to be invited to teach there and stayed for 7 years until I started my own clown school Mooseburger Camp. Now there is more education and products available than ever before, however the media has turned against clowns. It chooses to portray them in a negative light. This keeps some people away from finding out more about clowning. Happily you cannot stop the folks who are born with a clowns heart. They still invest their time and energy in becoming a good clown no matter what. The best part is the audiences still love them all the same. 

 8. How did you settle on the particular style and design of your clown or the personality you try to project as a clown?

Truthfully, I felt ugly and unwanted as a child. I do not blame anyone or my parents for this. It was just a child’s perception. When I first put on the clown make-up I liked what I saw in the mirror for the first time. The white face clown made me feel pretty. It was magic. Performing fed my soul. I had some natural talent and some excellent teachers and mentors. I couldn’t help but be a clown. It was in my blood. 

Percilli 123456

9. 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 a white face clown. I have a beautiful costume. I like to do wacky things, many times involving a rubber chicken, music or dancing. When I was young with Ringling Bros. I did a lot of slapstick and pratfalls. No one expected a pretty clown to fall down. It made people laugh.   

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10. Have you ever worked in a Circus and if so which ones? Do you have any great stories which you can share.

I was with Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey circus from 1980-1985. Then I worked for Ringling at Disneyland in an event called The Circus at Disneyland. As far as stories go there are many of them! Some can be found on YouTube under an Evening with Pricilla Mooseburger. I caught on fire twice as a circus clown!  

11. What kind of functions are you hired for example: conventions, parties.

I am hired to teach. I clown with my local clown club to help out the club and be a part of our local events. 

12. Do you have bits that are standard in the clown world or do you create your own acts?

I can perform the standard skits with my own Mooseburger twist. But I prefer to write my own material. “Bunny Magic”  can also be seen on YouTube. It is my signature piece. I have been doing a version of it for over 30 years.

 View “Bunny Magic Below in YouTube Videos

13. Do you use props?          I love big silly props!

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15. If so did you make them yourself?

For the most part yes. I do buy my chickens, but they often get dressed up and altered. They don’t mind. 

16. If you were in a parade did you ride anything? Bike, Unicycle, Clown car?

I like to walk the parades you get more interaction with the people. But I am thinking about fixing up my bike this year and making it into a clown bike for Pricilla Mooseburger to ride. 


17. Is there video we can watch of you on the web acting as a clown for us to enjoy?

Lots on YouTube 

18. Do you have any clown wisdom to pass on to fellow younger clowns who are starting out in the business?

You are better than you think you are. Do your best to improve, but get out there and do it! Your heart will shine through your mishaps. Just keep putting yourself out there and soak in all the good you are doing. Remember the people who need you the most may not be your target audience. It could be the grandma and not the birthday child, the person who sees you driving your car or pumping your gas, the worker at the nursing home and not the patient who really needs the clown that day. You are always somebody’s day brightener even if you feel like a failure. 

 19. What are you long-term goals in clowning?

Hand my business down to my children Julia Bothun and DJ Weiss. Do my best to help clowns around the world stay inspired.  and  Example: Become a Ringling Clown.

20. If you can say one word that summed up all your years of clowning – what would it be?    *************Amazing*****************

21.What kind of presence do you have on the web, FB, web page, blog?

Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp on Facebook:

Patricia Manuel on Facebook:




 1-800-973-6277  and  320-963-6277

Art Prints

I hope you have enjoyed this post about another wonderful clown.

Until next time. Happy Clowning!

Thanks to Trisha for all her help in creating this blog.

Patty Sue O’Hair –Vicknair Clown Artist

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Please like this blog and share among your clown friends.  All comments are welcome!

The next post will be the painting progression. Check it out!

clown art canvas prints

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