Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Career Reaches Its Clowning Glory

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Career Reaches Its Clowning Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sammo Wonfor Arts And Entertaining Correspondent

It was too tempting to resist. The circus was coming to town and I had been offered the chance to swap the fun-filled antics of The Journal's newsroom for the rough and tumble inside the enormous Big Top which had materialised on Gateshead's Team Valley.

The prospect of becoming a clown for the day, complete with oversized shoes and a fixed comical expression was almost enough to convince me, but when I found out I was also the circus' namesake - the deal was done.

A convoy of classic stateside trucks had brought Uncle Sam's American Circus to Tyneside, and for one night only I was part of the line-up.

On arriving at the site I was greeted by the ring master himself, the gravel-voiced Gavin Brand, who outlined what my role would be.

"You're gonna be great," he assured me as I was introduced to Ramon, the head clown, who was busy tinkering with his comedy car, and his wife Martha and four-year-old son Ashley - who double as fellow performers.

Job one was make-up - applied with precision by Colombian-born Ramon, who has been clowning around for the past 20 years.

Once the white foundation, talcum powder, red lipstick and black eyeliner (known as `the essentials') were on, but having no idea what I looked like, I was handed a hanger holding an array of colourful and glittering attire - topped with a sequin-covered cap.

I was a bit dubious - especially when I saw the bright red braces, luminous yellow leg warmers and the two-foot long shoes - but in for a penny as they say, and I stepped into the britchers with clown-filled confidence.

And ta-dah! The transformation was complete. Or so I thought - but when the bathroom door slid back, Ramon was standing, in his own checky suit and comedy tie, brandishing the piece d'resistance...the red nose.

Sammo the clown had been born.

By this time it was 4.45pm and given I was due "on" at 5.10pm and hadn't set foot inside the big top - or had any kind of run through with my new buddies, I was a little on edge to say the least. …

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