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September 16, 2013

Be a clown: From makeup to magic, clown classes teach it all

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Your teachers will be named Rainbow, Dilly Dally and Shenangian. 

And, likely the class will be a hoot.

But, if you register for clown classes that start on Wednesday, don’t think it’s all going to be funny business ... because these clowns take their jobs very seriously.

Beyond floppy shoes and red noses, their experiences in face paint seem to confirm recent research on the healing power of laughter.

“Laughter makes people healthier,” said Carol Shire, one of the class teachers known as Dilly Dally. “I know for myself, if I have some down days, all I have to do is get on the phone with one of my clowns and that’s the end of that. It just lifts me up.”

But seriously, folks, clowning can be a good second income, according to another of the class teachers, Beverly Eiler of Wilson, who said that clowns can earn up to $80 an hour at parties and events.  

“There’s a lot of money to be made at birthday parties, but that’s not my cup of tea,” Eiler said, adding that because she works full-time at Niagara University — helping teaching students get certified — she prefers doing work for non-profit organizations and events because it’s not quite as rigorous and feeds her soul rather than her pocketbook. 

Eiler, whose clown character is called Rainbow, recalled her most outstanding clown moment was at a Christmas party for inner city kids. Despite the games and carnival atmosphere, she was struck by a 4-year-old boy who looked so sad. “I kept thinking how bad could this kid’s life be that he can’t smile in this situation,” she remembered. She kept trying to make him laugh. “I said,’I’m Rainbow and I need a smile.’” Eventually the boy smiled and delivered an unforgettable clown triumph, the kind of experience that keeps clowns returning to their makeup and silly costumes.

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