As clowns we see people who have a fear of clowns. Often this fear is exaggerated. I’ve seen adults run from the room in panic only because a clown has been in their presence. That sounds crazy! It looks even crazier when you see it happpen. As irrational as that fear is, it’s important to understand where it comes from. Many people have a genuine fear that a clown is going to do something to them, Throw a pie in their face, spray water on them from the clown lepal. These are over used cliches.
Some people use the presence of a clown as a reason for their emotional outburst. This is where we see the fear exaggerated. Sometimes these extreme feelings swing to hatred of a clown. Others will avert their eyes, as if seeing the clown will cause them harm. These reactions are the opposite of what we clowns want and expect. For other people the site of a clown is joyous and happy.
Let them go....
In my experience I’ve learned that the best way to the handle the fear is to not participate in emotional swing of these feelings. It’s best to resist the urge to deal with this problem by trying to fix the fear. If you are a clown and someone doesn’t want to be in the room with you so much that they run away, ...Let them go. Running after them will not make the situation better.
Another reaction I’ve seen some clowns try is to " talk it out". This involves explaining. It’s usually some form of a conversation where the clown tries to show that they are not scary. The clown talks about by her/his professional training or some rational explanation as to why the person should be afraid. This is a well intended, but faulty approach in my opinion. It’s completely understandable that we don’t want people to not be afraid of us but talking about doesn’t serve our purpose.
“I work hard at this...”
Being a professional clown takes work dedication and commitment. Many of us have trained for years as an acrobat/improviser/ juggler/ musician/at physical theater/magic. We take pride in our work. We have honed these skills into an art form. We are eager to share the art of clowning.
However, I believe it’s very important to keep in mind that the people who have a fear of clowns haven’t put much serious thought into this issue. They are reflexively expressing a feeling. This reflexive expression could just as easily be about brussels sprouts, NASCAR, or Taylor Swift. Imagine if someone came up to you and insisted that you listen to their favorite Tay Tay song, or they expected you to listen to them talk about a stock car driver.
I’ve seen instances where a clown has taken his or her time to patiently explain why one should not be afraid of clowns. The explanation includes details about clown training and includes solid rational reasons why they should not be afraid of clowns.
As I’ve said most people don’t care about that. They are not expressing a thought based on carefully considered rational thought. They are reflexively responding. A clown may see some positive results after explaining to a fearful person. This person may be persuaded to not be afraid. However, again it’s not important for that person to understand this fear. After all the explaining they may agree with you. However the next time they see a clown they are not likely to care about the well thought out rationale you gave then They are more likely to fall back on to the reflexive reaction they have always had.
All this is to say that the best approach in dealing with the clown fear is to not focus on their fear. It is best to have another approach.
I will share details about this in my next clown fear post.