Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, art and the occasional rant!

My past life as a clown


Some of you may have heard me refer to my old clown persona.  Her name was Burgundy Red, which was my mom’s idea – it was the name of the leader of a biker gang in a rather bad Canadian made movie about some computer nerd who gets in trouble with the bikers.  This massive guy had a long mane of hair and was called Burgundy Red which my mom thought was funny.

So, when I started thinking about adding a clown character to my face painting services over a decade back she suggested the name.  It was cute and since my wig is that exact colour, it fit perfectly.

It was early in my face painting career and I was looking for a “value added” hook.  My first make-up design was… well, pretty icky.  When you don’t know a whole lot about clowns research is needed.

I did a lot of research on the history of clowns and the different types of clowns.  Costumes were easy… oddly, a lot of my wardrobe from the ’80s works great for clown costumes… lol…

In 2002 I attended Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp which was a great learning experience, and my make-up was redesigned in one of the classes…

I attended as I thought if I was going to dress as a clown I should learn how to BE a clown, a proper clown.

My costume was all mine – my dress was my Minnie Mouse costume, mom made the long-sleeved shirt to match my socks, the heart bloomers, she also made my handbag and I did the belt and shoes.  No clown shoes for me though, I just added tassels and pom-poms to red canvas shoes.  I trip on air so didn’t want to risk breaking my neck.

At Mooseburger we learned many things and the finale was the clown show… we all got cast in gags that we had to rehearse for the show which was open to the public.

Here I am in rehearsals for the gag I was in… I was the idiot assistant…

I would recommend Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp for anyone interested is pursuing clowning.

Ultimately I killed off Burgundy Red.  My interest is in face painting and all things make-up related, and while I enjoyed attending camp and learning to juggle, spin plates, making props, making balloon animals, I just wasn’t motivated to spend the time to practise and develop a clown show or persona.  I was a face painter who painted as a clown, not a clown that did face painting.

I was getting tired of the time involved getting ready when all I would be doing was face painting, and only if time permitted, balloons.   I was developing allergies to all the products – first I had to stop wearing mascara, then the powder started to bother me, and then the eyelashes. And RSI issues with my hands were making balloon twisting painful… so, it was time to end it.

So I sold off all my props and gags, repurposed my costume parts and gave away my excess balloons.

I have a great respect for clown entertainers… it is not easy and takes a lot of dedication and practise to be a good clown.  I’m not talking some guy in a rainbow wig who puts on a bozo jumpsuit to hand out balloons at a  car dealership, I’m talking professional, trained and hard-working clowns who entertain at all levels.

Not all clowns are created equal… if you want to hire a clown make sure they are a real clown, not just dressing up as one.


2 thoughts on “My past life as a clown

  1. Really enjoy your Blog posting. Was Burgundy at the Fringe?

    • Yes… before the clown face lift, so the make-up was different. But same outfit. Made the paper too. And had my first nasty experience with a horrid little boy that wrenched my wrist and stomped on my feet.

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