The first time Martin D’Souza, one of the city’s best-known professional clowns, donned the motley attire, it was at a friend’s request. “I used to compere often, and someone offered me Rs 50 extra to carry on the act wearing make-up and a clown’s outfit. So I thought, why not?” he recalls. Little did D’Souza know that the multi-coloured costume would set him browsing the Internet to learn more. “I found professional training institutes for clowns,” says the 42-year-old, who discarded his MBA degree to start learning at a clown’s camp at University of Wisconsin in 2004. Since then, the Amboli resident has tried hard to puncture myths around the profession he first adopted two decades ago.
Recently back from the World Clown Convention in New York, where he was the sole representative from India, D’Souza aka Flubber feels India has a lot to learn from the global styles of clowning. “In India, clowning is considered a profession for the uneducated or for midgets. It is restricted to being a circus genre. Sadly, people here haven’t seen a real clown,” he says, adding, “Clowns internationally are skilled professionals who carry out everything from mime, pantomime, music, physical comedy, magic, balloon sculpting, juggling, unicycling, acrobatics and non-verbal entertainment.”
Ask him what Madhatter’s Convention is, and he replies. “It’s a great place to learn global trends. We discuss our individual styles, have training sessions and even compete with each other.”
D’Souza, who organised the first international clowns festival in the city last year, is now turning his attention to other ways of sharing the fun. “The concept of Caring Clowns is common internationally. I’m now working on combining my clowning skills with civic issues. We’ll be ready with performances addressing issues like fire safety, health and hygiene, while teaching people a thing or two about miming and magic.”
D’Souza will turn to schools and hospitals in the garb of an entertaining pedagogue: “I see the potential of a clown. Hopefully, people here will soon start viewing it as a respectable career.”