I recently, along with Chloe Whiting Stevenson and frequent comic partner Mickey Lonsdale, performed two classic clown scenes. In clowning, it is normal to spend enormous amounts of time and energy searching for new and original ideas. So, it’s nice every once in a while to suspend the quest for new comedy and just work with what has stood the test of time.
Our first scene comes from the 1920s and features a white clown played by Chloe, the Auguste played by me, and the ringmaster played by Mickey. The scene is called Honey, but it has gone by many other names including, The Queen of the Honey, and The Busy Bee. It is the story of one clown’s desire to get honey without having to work for it. And he gets it alright!
This scene may have originally been played by the great clowns Dario and Bario, however, it is possibly much older than that.
Our second scene is from the 1950s and had a bit of Three Stooges style gratuitous slapstick violence that we had to work hard to update. The scene is called The Waiter and the plot is beyond familiar. Two clowns establish a restaurant, select a customer, and chaos ensues. In this scene, I play the White and Mickey the Auguste. Mickey and I had to add a lot of business to this scene, since the classic script doesn’t do much in the way of explaining the physical gags which take place. I think our most successful addition was the “bring the Bavarian cream pie and step on it!” bit.
This scene is attributed to Clown legends Nino and Mimile, but the idea no doubt stretches back at least to the Commedia dell’Arte, if not further.