Lives have become so stressed and rushed that even clowns believe making grown ups laugh is no joke. But that doesn't mean they'll stop trying. Just ask blonde-haired Jonathan Seglins, better known as Circus Jonathan, one of the more than half a dozen clowns who descended on Goa as part of an international clown festival, which was held here Nov 17.
The award winning Canadian comic, juggler, unicyclist and master clown says rapid urbanisation and hectic lives had not only robbed people of their smiles, but even their ability to smile and laugh easily. "Laughter may the best medicine, but alas it isn't easy to make people laugh anymore,"Jonathan told IANS backstage, as he smeared paint on his face, accentuating his smile.
Having performed in 12 countries, Jonathan said the generic inability of adults to smile easily was evident everywhere. "People come for shows because they want to bring their children along. They want their children to laugh and have a good time. It reveals their mentality. They think the time to laugh and have fun is past them. How many adults will you find here who have come without children?" Jonathan asked, adjusting an oversized, brightly coloured bow.
Molly Kleeman, an American clown, said she was taken aback by Indians' knowledge of America. "I didn't know Spiderman was big here. We use these global references to make our brand of clownery and comedy relevant to people here," she said.
The main organisers of the event - Mad Hatters, a division of Light House Entertainment, said the purpose of the event was to spread the art of clowning. "We are trying to popularise the art of clowning and also raise the standards in the country. We have brought in clowns from Canada, US, South Africa, making it the biggest clown festival in India till date," said Mad Hatters' Martin D'Souza, himself a clown.
The festival, which kicked off in Mumbai Nov 7, showcased clown acts like walkabouts, meet and greet, stilt walkers, ballooning, face painting, body art, clowning, gags, juggling, acrobats and mime. Clowns conducted several stage shows, demonstrations and workshops. Their visit here for the one-off show, the last of the tour, also served a dual purpose.
Apart from allowing them to exhibit their talents in front of a new audience, the clowns also relaxed on Goa's sunny beaches after a 10-day long festival. "It was wonderful to be here. It is one of my best experiences coming to India. There is so much life here. It is so interesting to teach all the kids around you and watch them be amazed. We hope to make the most of our last day here," Jonathan said.