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‘Clown shortage’ prompts circus owners to call for new recruits

Co-owner of a prominent circus says he will give aspiring clowns opportunity to perform short routine via video call
The clown community in Northern Ireland, a region in the United Kingdom, has put out a call for new recruits after the Covid-19 pandemic led to a shortage of performers.
As stringent measures were being taken in the UK to stem the flow of coronavirus, many clowns opted to ply their trade in countries throughout the EU where Covid measures eased more quickly.
In an interview with BBC, David Duffy, co-owner of Duffy’s Circus, which has been closed for over 500 days, said he would like aspiring clowns to come forward.
“Because all the circuses in Europe and in England have been up and operational for the past six months, that huge pool of EU artists are already back at work and up until last week we haven’t been able to even get visas issued for non-EU artists and entertainers,” Duffy said.
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“That’s why we’re trying to reach out for any of our folks at home who feel that they can give it a go.”
He will be giving aspiring clowns the opportunity to perform a short routine via video call.
Talking about what is takes to be a clown, Duffy said that one has to be “really, really adaptable” and be able to think on his feet.
“When you go into the circus ring and you’ve got 700 to 800 people looking at you, no matter what sort of mood you’re in you have to light up that circus ring,” he added.
“A clown actually can be the loneliest place because you’re in there on your own and you have to be able to read your audience, in a short couple of minutes you have to be able to get a rapport going with them and interact and feed off them.”
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Meanwhile, Noeleen Fries Neumann and her husband Henrick, both clowns named Silly Tilly and Jarl, who got married at a clown-themed wedding in 2017, set up a tent in their back garden where they put on their own performances.
Fries, offering advice to wannabe clowns, said interested parties must be able to “make themselves vulnerable”. “You have to be able to poke fun at yourself, it’s not about poking fun at other people,” she added.

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