by Smart Coaching & Training’s Caroline Dream
I am David Rigby, MD of Smart Coaching & Training. After learning Public Speaking, Radio Presenting, StandUp Comedy, learning about clowning proved to be very significant in both my training and my public speaking career. This is article is written by associate Caroline Dream, a bi-lingual associate of Smart Coaching & Training, who specialises in teaching Clowning for Professionals.
Making people laugh is much more complex and fascinating than it may seem at first glance. The red nose does not make people laugh, but the clown inside you. To discover your clown, it is important to be prepared to share who you are, with humility and humanity, knowing that this unique learning process has no foreseeable end, that is, there will always be something to learn, develop or perfect, as in all the arts.
Yes, everyone has a clown identity, a clown-id (Freud was too serious and hard working to notice it). Everyone can, with a little help, experience the clown self that abides within them, the self that just is; fun loving, fun and funny. In fact, the moment you put your organised, realistic, critical and moralizing self aside you will find them with ease. They’re waiting in the wings of your consciousness, somewhat impatiently, ready to grab the first opportunity you give them to be centre stage.
The problem is that until you’ve actually experienced your clown, even for the briefest moment, this will be hard to believe. Hard to believe too how addictive letting this crazy version of yourself run loose can be. Clowns breathe life and lightness into people. My students are usually amazed and delighted after an encounter with their more vibrant and creative self.
What is YOUR clown like?
There’s a generalized idea that this clown identity is actually the inner child – but it’s not. Clowns are not children, though they have obviously not lost sight of childhood nor ceased to observe children. Clowns have incorporated aspects of both but they are not frozen in time, they’re quite capable of very adult attitudes, ideas and actions.
Each clown is unique and grows over time. If you asked any professional, “What is your clown like?”, they’d all tell you something completely personal. Clowns call themselves clowns because they recognise the art that is their playground but the individuals that are playing there each have there own unique charisma. If you have already experienced your clown you’ll know that it’s a lot like tuning yourself in to a specific frequency. When you’re receiving the signal you still feel like you, just with fewer complexes and more creativity.
Why is it useful?
All the positive effects we experience originate in the following three core components of clowning: using humour, the clown state, and performing for an audience.
The effects humour and laughter have on us have been well aired over the last decade. We now know that using our sense of humour regularly increases our capacity to: accept ourselves, communicate our feelings, relate with others, face tensions, adapt to new situations, deal with conflicts, have fun, and think positively.
Over the last century psychological theorists (such as Maslow, Freud, Allport, and Vaillant) have endorsed a style of humour that is non-hostile, philosophical, and self-accepting (such as clowns possess) and associated it with the development of a healthy or mature personality. Having a healthy sense of humour has been demonstrated to strengthen a person’s sense of trust, hope and valor, especially in moments of difficulty. In their article, “Humor and life stress: Antidote to adversity” (1986), H.M. Lefcourt and R.A. Martin – two authorities on the subject of humour – confirmed that using positive humour reinforces the value of acceptance and forgiveness of one’s self and others. And add that “the ability to sense and appreciate humour can buffer the mood disturbances that happen in response to negative life events.”Which goes to say that an inevitable result of having a healthy sense of humor is a greater emotional intelligence.
Also, moments of shared laughter have two valuable effects; they deactivate internal bias mechanisms and bring people together in the same shared space. The presence of humour disarms all resistance to growth or change.
The clown state
Without a doubt inhabiting the clown state brings out the best in us – we become authentic, honest, creative, humble, inventive, curious, joyful and free – and merely recognizing all these qualities we inherently possess is revitalizing. With the help of our clown we become connected – to ourselves, to others and to life, with appreciation and compassion.
Other benefits include:
- a fresh perspective.
- step out of comfort zone.
- greater listening skills.
- ability to use mistakes and failures to create success.
- understanding how to overcome communication breakdowns.
- greater crisis and stress management skills.
- constant creative collaboration.
- focus on finding innovative solutions to tricky problems.
Performing for an audience
By stepping out into the limelight, we reclaim our individual worthiness to be seen, heard and appreciated.
Knowing that you are funny, generous, idiotic, creative, talented, loving, etc. is one thing, but expressing and experiencing these aspects of yourself in front of others is something else altogether. Research has shown that both practical knowledge and long lasting memories are forged through powerful, emotional experiences. When you find yourself in front of an audience – exhibiting your personality, talents and ingenuity – you are refreshing and activating your understanding of who you are and what you’re capable of.
Researchers who have studied the effects of practicing drama, theatre or a performance art on young people – Catterall & Chapleau (1997), Heath & Roach (1998), E. Fiske (1999), S. Ruppert & National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (2006) – have found an extraordinary number of benefits. They saw positive changes in the children’s: confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, ability to organize and prioritize, self-reliance, poise, ability to converse with adults, empathy, compassion, analysis, problem solving, reasoning, abstract thinking skills, ability to conceptualize, and appreciation of culture and the arts.
Clowning, therefore, improves your physical, emotional, psychological, social, and academic capacities. Which of course, will increase your overall sense of well-being and help you no end on the path towards professional success.
Smart Coaching & Training works with 20 associates, in four continents speaking 12 languages and raised and working in a wide range of cultures. See our associates here. Caroline is currently delivering training in South America (in Spanish) and Germany, USA and Spain (in English and Spanish)
In conjunction with Professional Speakers Association (Spain) , SCT’s David Rigby will be present at the TEDx Marbella Spain event on June 9 focussing on Entrepreneurs