Welcome to Clown School
This is the last known photo of Jason and Patricia Martin.
Every one of us has something buried in their past that is best left forgotten. Some indiscretion or fuck up so bad that you never mention it to anyone and try to repress it within you. For me, that something is clown school and I had thought all memories of it completely burned from my neurons by years of drinking. But alas even Bacardi 151 and Everclear shooters could not smooth this scar from the wrinkles of my cerebrum, and yesterday morning it all came flooding back. I saw flashes of greasepaint and laughter, my mother putting makeup on me, working on a routine. I think my nose began to bleed and I had to steady myself against a wall. Like in a movie where someone's "psychic powers" are awakening only instead of psychic powers I got soul-searing images of my day at clown school.
It was the summer of my eleventh year, maybe my twelfth, I'm not completely sure, still not completely out of my "girls are icky" phase. My mother had planned some sort of incredibly gay activity for me to do with her once a week so I didn't spend all my time playing Nintendo or hanging around the creepy neighbor kids. The neighbor kid's dad was one of those "yelling dads" you see in movies and jails, he would burst through the door and just start yelling and he would get everyone in the car and keep yelling all the way to wherever he was taking you and then you would all get out and he would yell. He had these giant protuberant moles on his brow that vibrated when he yelled. He left a big and terrifying impression on me, but this anecdote isn't about him at all, it's about one particularly odd activity my mother had planned.
She had decided that I was a "cut up" or "pill" or something of the sort, and since her repertoire of humor includes only bad puns and terrible puns she decided to take "class clown" literally and sign us up for a clown class. A clown class held at a catholic church. A clown class run entirely by nuns. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Catholic nuns but they are not exactly the first image that pops into your head when you think of "hilarity". Of course neither are clowns, which is why they made the perfect instructors for a class on how to be a clown.
If you're picturing a mixture between a military school and a circus, you're pretty much right, it was held in the activity center of a small church and three elderly nuns were in charge of teaching us the tricks and trade of being a clown. I was incredulous when I walked in and saw that all of the other "students" at this particular clown academy were middle-aged and mostly male, but as time passed and the nun commander gave her introductory speech my mood quickly shifted to "even more incredulous".
The itinerary for the class was something like this:
10:00 - 10:30 AM The history of clowns
10:30 - 11:00 AM How to apply clown makeup
11:00 - 11:30 AM Magic tricks and gags
11:30 - Noon Select your clown name and face
Lunch break in which we all consume the sacrament of the clown god and crawling chaos Nyarlethotep
12:30 - 1:30 PM Apply makeup and develop five-minute "skit".
1:30 - 3:30 PM Perform "skits".
Even after hearing the clown syllabus for the day I had very little idea as to what to expect. The only think I knew was that it would involve a lot of sweaty middle-aged men in greasepaint, my mom, and stern-faced nuns. It sounded more like a sex-themed nightmare I would have, but unwilling and more importantly unable to back out, I forged ahead.
10:00 - 10:30 AM: The History of Clowns
Much like Rome clowns were not built in a day, they evolved from the first caveman who realized, after accidentally falling on a rock and smashing open his skull, that he could garner attention and laughter by repeatedly falling on a rock and smashing open his skull even more. Somewhere along the line clowns made the leap from bloody pratfalls to acrobatics and unnerving face paint. When clowning came to America with the pilgrims it got the standard American spin. This meant that clowns were usually overweight, sweaty, and more often than not, serial murderers. The nuns related all of this to us with a reverence you would think would be reserved for lifting some sacred palanquin out of a crypt. I was waiting for one of them to walk out of a janitor's closet swinging a censer full of burning Mop and Glow while the youngest of them chanted softly in the background. When the history lesson was over we broke into groups for our education in clown makeup.
10:30 - 11:00 AM: How to Apply Clown Makeup
You can tell this man has been a professional clown for years not by his skill at applying makeup but by the fact that he is not sobbing openly.
At this point the nun who had disappeared earlier returned in full clown garb, including scary face paint and oversized shoes. To say the sight of a nun in clown makeup was startling and disturbing is an understatement on par with saying that an anvil being dropped on you from the roof of the Sears Tower might cause minor back pain. It was a crushing blow that I never fully recovered from. Once I'd sent out recovery teams to collect the pieces of my jaw that had scattered across the floor when it dropped off and shattered, I was able to apply my full attention to clown nun. She said her name was "Bonkers" and I watched her like a gazelle watching a prowling savannah lion with six heads.
She explained the finer points of applying clown makeup, points which revolved primarily around smearing huge swaths of white grease paint across your face until your pores contained more lead than a mine in the Tennessee foothills. With a photocopied handout of a leering harlequin she explained the different shapes and colors that worked best. I ignored her and took the time to prepare a note to my friends request rescue in the seemingly likely event that the clowns grew agitated and attempted to eat us. I had not yet worked out how to get the note to the outside world when the makeup lesson ended.
11:00 - 11:30 AM: Magic Tricks and Gags
"Everyone loves magic," would be something you could only say if addressing a room populated entirely by the severely retarded.
Magic is about as entertaining as doing calligraphy in the dark, and you can magnify this joy tenfold when you consider the thankless task of actually performing the magic acts. What's worse is clowns are not exactly David Copperfield. They don't have a busty sidekick, melodramatic new age music, or ten smoke generators to hide the boom crane that moves a giant mirror. Clowns can perform two magic tricks: hiding a red ball and cutting and "fixing" a string. We learned both in the magic portion of this lesson but, since I was more interested in the fact that I thought the nun in the clown makeup had filed her teeth into points, I have no recollection of how to perform them.
The gags were even funnier than the magic tricks. One gag involved sitting down and missing a chair and falling on the floor. What made the explanation of this gag even more gratingly dull was that the sweaty men with their hands suspiciously roaming the inner sanctum of their sweat pant's waistbands frequently asked questions.
"How do you fall and not hurt yourself?"
"Can you do the trick with a ladder?"
"When I'm awake my chest moves and sometimes I make it stop and then it hurts and I fall asleep. Why?"
Cold dread made each question more agonizing than the last as I envisioned nun clown tearing open my ribcage and pulling out my still-beating heart. Finally they ended and we were left to our own devices for half an hour to determine what our clown name and "theme" should be.
11:30 - Noon: Select Your Clown Name and Face
At this point I was sure even Clown Balloon could not save me.
This funtivity was infinitely harder than you might imagine. I feared the clown, not in a jokey "har har clowns are scary" way either, in a primal way like an owl fears a jet. Why would I want to become the jet to my proverbial owl? In hind sight I should have done something to stop them in their tracks. To give pause to their cruel designs and make them blink, their sinister glowing eyes so like the blood light of a back lit hand. I could see my end in their grotesquely painted smiles, coloration to confuse the prey, and I succumbed.
"Blinky" or something similar was hastily scrawled by my unfeeling hand at the top of the facial diagram. I was numb, numb to my fate and to the world around me, the detached apathy of a dead man walking. My mother was joyfully writing "Capers" or something stomach-churning across the top of her own paper, doodling intricate patterns on the blank face diagram that had about as much chance of success in reality as a novelization of "Freddy Got Fingered".
Lunch was eaten quietly, or it was by me anyway. I think my mother could tell I was deeply disturbed by what I had experienced, especially considering all of her questions like "what is your clown name going to be?" were answered with things like "sure" or "okay". Don't get me wrong, my mother is not stupid, she's almost always more practically intelligent than I am, but for some reason she seemed blissfully unaware of the doom that awaited us.
12:30 - 1:30 PM: Apply Make-Up and Develop Five Minute Skit
If I had to equate applying clown makeup to something I would have to say the real world activity it most resembles is being brutally raped by a bear in front of a full length mirror. You can see yourself being defiled in that reflective glass, inch by agonizing inch, as your face becomes inhumanly deformed. After applying a lumpy layer of grease-paint with all of the precision of the Dresden firebombing I began to fill in the faint outline of the mouth. Within minutes no matter how much I frowned or grimaced a giant blue smile was leering back at me. One of the nuns, and by then all three were in clown makeup, assisted me with the eye work. My particular helper was "Bunny" and she had the vaguest resemblance to a rabbit. As she leaned over me smelling like mothballs and dried blood the only thing I could think of was that rabbits eat their own children.
I had hoped that I might be able to draw on my increasing apprehension to create a skit, maybe something about urinating my pants or becoming catatonic for five minutes. I looked around at the room full of clowns taking shape in every direction and my stomach churned. I knew that my only chance was to pretend like I was one of them, to cover up the deceit and revulsion within my breast. If they recognized me as an outsider they were sure to tear me limb from limb before I even made my first joke about shit running down my leg and having seizures. I went with the string trick, I figured I could fumble my way through it for five minutes and be done with the routine based on that trick alone.
1:30 - 3:30 PM Perform "Skits"
This rare painting depicts a clown actually eating. Few have seen one consume its bloody repast and lived to tell the tale.
Most of the skits performed by the newly made ghouls in clown paint revolved around a single joke accompanied by a pratfall or magic trick. My mother's routine was some horribly unfunny song that drew ridiculously powerful laughs from the crowd. Her complete lack of comedic timing and skill had served her well with this group. A vice tightened around my heart as the nun commander said "Blinky" in her crone's voice.
I made my way as slowly as possible towards the front, hoping that the clown clock was counting down as I shuffled in front of the audience. Their beady eyes were upon me and I could feel sweat attempting to form at my hairline, only to encounter an impassable wall of thick makeup. Their gazes alone were enough to char-broil me, what would their claws and teeth do when they realized it was all a sham?
"I need a volunteer," there was no microphone but I could swear I still heard feedback as I croaked the words out.
One of the clown nuns stepped forward and I asked her to cut the string I held in my shaking hands. I should never have used scissors in this routine. In her withered talons they looked like five inches of gleaming death, ready to plunge into my chest. She snipped the string and I realized to my horror that I had not prepared for the trick. She had actually cut the only string I had.
Acting quickly I wadded both ends into my palm and prayed, prayed to everything from Jesus to ancient Sumerian gods, to Zeus himself, that the string would magically knit itself together. I extended the fist containing what I hoped was a magically united string, the nun's claw already open beneath it, waiting for my undoing to fall out in two neatly-cut halves.
I opened my fist.
I never saw what fell from my hand. Like a curtain dropping over a fatal pyrotechnic mishap at a grade school's production of "Lil Abner" darkness was swift and pitiless. Clown faces floated towards me as if from oily water, their mouths distended and rimmed with glittering fangs. They snapped at me and howled, and I swore I could feel them tearing away pieces of flesh.
I came to in the seat of my parent's car. We were on the way home. I asked what happened and my mother gave me an odd look, like I should know full well.
"Your pratfall was great," she said. "Sister Martha said it was an ingenious spin on the string trick. She thinks you could have a real future in clowning."
"Fat chance," I thought to myself, "my only possible future in clowning is as a digesting meal inside the belly of the beast."
When we got home I played Rygar and tried to forget.
At Last! A Definitive Guide to Warcraft III!
Ladies and gents, I am pleased to announce that Jeff K has just completed his rigorous research for his guide to Warcraft III! This guide will give you all the hottest hints and tricks for playing Warcraft, so forget about GameFAQs and check this sucker out!
okey, NEVER PLAY AS ELFS! ELFS ARE FOR FAGOTS AND TEH ONLY GOOD ELF IS TEH MEAT ELF! my dad used to bring home meat from work and I said "were did yuo gets this meat?" and he would say "I AM DRUNK, I GOT IT FROM TEH MEAT ELF!" and he said teh meat elf lived in a cave and would come out when I would act nifty from niacin so IN SUMMARY NIGHT ELFES ARE A BAD CHOICE FOR YUO UNLESS YUO ARE CONTENT WITH FAGOTRY ON A GRAND SCALE!!! I will not evan adress teh elfes in this guide becuase they dont deserve a shake of my fist in a summar's brew!
You will only need one guide this summer, and it is definitely "A JEFF K. GUIDE TOO WARCARFT 3!!!"