Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stage Fright...

For the next few postings, I'm going to help Sherry through some questions she emailed me.  Sherry has very generously allowed herself to be coached in public.  My hope, this will help many others in seeing yourself through her.  As always, please comment or ask questions.

Sherry asked a lot of questions.  I will try to just take one at a time.  This one leapt out at me.  I think it's very normal and effects a lot of people.

Sherry Wrote:My issue, primarily, is since my set-back 4 yrs ago (haven't been in clown & had minimal skills) I've developed a subtle stage fright which had NEVER been a problem before....and secondarily, I was robbed of my joy (to a certain extent) & forgot how to have fun, kinda....So I feel as new as a May Joey with my hands empty but my hearts in the right place

Stage Fright

Something happened 4 years ago that had you stop clowning, probably performing, causing huge self doubt about your ability, your character, if you're worthy to be a clown.  

You are bravely willing to set whatever happened aside.  That's huge. That's also very scary. 

I once horribly horribly bombed in front of 4000 people.  I was way over my head but someone offered me a gig that I took.   I still cringe thinking about that one.  Stuff happens.  It makes us who we are and makes us very brave. 

My best advice for stage fright, rehearse.  Stage Fright is essentially being stuck in your head.  Your own head is a bad neighborhood; stay out, you'll be mugged and beaten. 

Thinking about routines is not working on routines.  It's very difficult to practice clowning alone but you can work on the magic trick, juggling trick easily enough. You can also walk through a routine.  

Since you've done clowning before, you have a pretty good idea how the children will react.  When I rehearse, I talk for the kids.  

Example of how I practice.  "My name is Boswick...My last name is Diaperbaby"  (I know the children will giggle). "Hey, you're laughing at my name, Boswick Diaper Baby..."  (the children will laugh a little more).  "I Boswick...long pause...Diaperbaby"  (children will be rolling).  etc.  

(pointing to juggling clubs)  "Hey, juggling...who knows what I do with these?"  

Then I can work on the juggling tricks I want.  The audience part I'm guessing at, the juggling is a physical practice.  

I can practice this by filling in (out loud) what the children will say or do.  I can also, hope, they react in a certain way.  Being a clown, I also have leave myself open for many many reactions.  

The next thing to do is get some event on the books.  Again, this gets you out of your head.  If you know you have to be someplace, you will be there, not for yourself but for the people expecting you.  When you do things for others, the Stage Fright voice in your head will quiet. 

The joy will come, once you get out there.  Something happened, that robbed you of joy.  It takes an act of bravery to get out there again.  

The cure is just working, being a clown.  The more you do it, the quieter the voice.    

I can also tell you, I've been doing this 25 years now.  I've done in the vicinity of 8000 shows or appearances.  There has not been one time I have not had stage fright, been nervous.  Luckily for me, it's not very strong but it's always there.  Maybe that's all it is and you are too hard on yourself, you expect you won't be nervous.  

The longer I have between shows, the more frightened I become.  When I work a lot, the Stage Fright voice gets much quieter. 

Thanks for being so open.  Let me know if this helps or you need more coaching on this issue.  


  1. Wow! Thx Boswick! U hit the nail on the head in several areas....especially getting caught up in my head too much. I've come to the conclusion that I'll just pull up the 'ole clown shoes & like riding a bicycle, get back at it. I really liked your point about how the stage fright voice doesn't seem to penetrate through the sheer joy of clowning too!....ESPECIALLY when your in it for others & not just a 'j.o.b.'. Because clowning for me is more of a ministry/art of joy making.
    When I get my first gig, would you like me to tell you how it went?

  2. of course I want to know.

    Clowning is a job. Treat it with that kind of respect. Show up on time, take care of your work area, make sure you do your job well.

    I think a problem with people that try to clown, they don't treat it like a job.

  3. I've been invited to clown in March so I'll kkeep you posted.
    I think it would be incredibly disappointing, especially for children, to not be respectful of your client to not do your job right! This is THE best job ever!

  4. Let me know. Very exciting. You sound like you are ready to go tomorrow.

    1. Was just asked to go to Honduras to clown in April!!!.....its a little different venue....street ministry so I'm twisting up critters & trying out props on folks I work with (out of makeup) but they always recognize my clown when I do it. Whey say things like 'oh! I see ur clowning around again'....just music to my ears!
      Would u mind if I send u a small 30 for your advice??

  5. Not sure what you're asking. What would you like the video to include? I'd be happy to demonstrate.

    You are talking about balloons, clowning, working without make-up. What exactly are you working on? Be very specific, I'll write about it and make a video.

    1. Oops! I'm sorry ....I was so excited I rambled right off the platform....
      I guess what I need to know is....what kind of approach would u use to teach
      or demonstrate a subject matter, ie: 'say no to drugs' while entertaining on the streets?