Even in this modern age, clowning has remained one of the most unusual and character-driven areas of performance art. A good number of clowns started with children’s shows at birthday parties, then upgraded their act and created a client base of repeat customers. There are no formal academic qualifications to become a clown, although a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts or Visual and Performing Arts can be useful.

The job of a clown is to perform before an audience and leverage comedy, slapstick, and other forms of physical humor to induce laughter. They are always dressed in colorful costumes and very flamboyant makeup and also wear odd wigs and funny footwear.

A clown’s act will depend on how big of an audience he or she is performing for, and if he or she performs independently or with a theatre troupe, circus, or other organization. If a clown performs for birthday parties, hospitals, senior homes, or schools, he or she may inculcate jokes and conversation into the act including juggling, making balloon animals, miming, riding a unicycle, and magic tricks.

Meanwhile, if the clown is performing for a bigger audience, say with a circus, the act may be done mostly in pantomime and as a ringmaster, and he or she will perform alongside animals, acrobats, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists, and tightrope walkers.

If the clown is performing at a rodeo clown, their job is not to entertain the audience but to distract the bull at a bull-riding show, and will place themselves in between the bull’s horns and the rider in order to protect the rider. Clowns tend to make their money from fees collected for their entertainer jobs. Fees most often are adjusted based on the hours in attendance and the work being performed.

Steps on How to Get a Clown License in 2022

Clowns and costumed entertainment businesses flourish with the energy and creativity of the performers. So, if you are comically exciting or feel you have the energy and creativity to succeed as a clown, here are simple steps to acquire a clown license in 2022.

1. Seek Education And Join A Professional Clown Organization

If you feel you have the talents and charisma to succeed in this endeavor, then you should start by spending 8 weeks learning as much as you can about the process of being a clown. In a clown academy or college, you will be taught how to develop your clowning skills.

You will also obtain professional development. At the end of the 8 weeks, the college might also arrange auditions for you at different circuses. There are numerous groups, such as the World Clown Association, that you can join to leverage their support.

It is also important you explore the resources a clown organization can offer you. Note that this might include mentorship from a more experienced clown or a tutorial on how to do clown makeup effectively. Some of these resources are only available to members.

2. Establish your Clown Persona

After learning all you can from Clown College, it is now time to work on your clown persona. Note that possibilities are quite limitless in this regard. Do you work in the tradition of the American clown, with a colorful and funny appearance and a focus on broad, outrageous humor? Or will you go for the more subdued, European-style clown identity?

Regardless of the choice you make, just try to build your clown persona off your natural personality and talents. Do not forget to keep your intended audience in mind, as well: if you plan to work at children’s birthday parties then it won’t be ideal to wear overly outré or morose clown makeup.

3. Obtain Clown Accessories

Clowns tend to always have tricks up their sleeves, from balloon animals to card tricks to handkerchiefs for juggling. Note that the objective of clowns is to be funny while showing off different tricks. However, whether you want to make balloon animals, juggle, perform magic, mime, or do a comedic routine, your actions will ultimately be a performance.

Also note that you can also consider humor, especially slapstick humor when putting together your act. When people see clowns, they want to laugh and be entertained. Try on your wig at the costume shop to verify that it fits. Acquire outfits that suit your style, and ensure you look a little bit outrageous. Consider laying a bright jacket or blazer over your shirt, too.

Clowns will also wear very bright colors and prints. Make sure you choose pants that match your current ensemble. You can obtain these at a costume shop. Pajama pants will also work. Have it in mind that nothing is too loud or too outrageous for a clown outfit. A typical clown dons large shoes that are bright and shiny.

4. Obtain Your Licenses And Permits

Although just very few municipalities require certain permits and licenses to run your clown business, you probably won’t need more than one or two. Clowns are usually not licensed by the state, and there’s no standard “clown license” that performers are expected to get.

Although it may not be required where you do business, getting a general business license is always a good idea for tax purposes, and if you intend on moonlighting as a street performer to make an extra income, it may be legally vital to obtain a street performer’s or peddler’s permit from your local city hall. This type of permit is usually inexpensive: about $100 or so.

Clown School Requirement

Just like other performing arts degrees, clowning education is either practice-based (involving a great deal of actual performance) or academic, which puts together practical work with analysis of the background of the subject. Most often, teaching is delivered through a mix of practical workshops and lectures.

When it comes to academic requirements, a good number of clown schools specify that they prefer applicants who have previously studied a similar or related subject. However, some clown schools won’t mind accepting students who have not formally studied any of the performing arts before.

Have it in mind that you are likely to be asked to attend an audition. Most academies or colleges will make available information on the audition format. You may have a solo audition or may be judged as part of a group, or some combination of the two. Note that you may also need to arrange a few performance pieces in advance, which will be expected to vary in style and tone so that the admission officers can get a view of your current range of skills.

Offline Clown Schools

  • Circus Center
  • Celebration Barn Theater
  • Dell’Arte International
  • Pig Iron
  • Center for Movement Theatre with Dody Disanto
  • The Clown Camp

Online Clown Schools

  • Skillshare, Inc
  • Holly Stoppit
  • London Clown School
  • The Clown School
  • The Barrow Group

How Hard is It To Get Into Clown College?

According to reports, it is harder to get into Clown College than Harvard because of the number of applicants compared to the number of people that got in. This fact buttresses the extensive admission process. Have it in mind that most clown colleges only accept about 50 applicants per year from a field of thousands of would-be students.

How Much Do Clowns Make A Year?

As of December 2022, the average clown salary in the United States is $61,326, but the salary range falls between $47,787 and $75,439. Note that the amount clowns can make a year varies widely and can depend on many critical factors like education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in the profession.

How Do You Apply to Get Into Clown College?

Every clown college will have different requirements for incoming students, therefore your best bet will be to call the admissions office and ask them about their admissions requirements.

How Do You Get Jobs as a Clown for Parties?

To get jobs as a clown for parties, your best bet will be to leverage the internet and social media. E-mail blasts, a regular blog, and photo content, and interaction coupled with other related performer groups and entertainment outlets will help to spread your name and reputation to those who need clowns at parties. In addition, consider getting business cards, flyers, and magnetic car signs. You can also create a mobile billboard with your vehicle and ask to leave business cards or flyers around town in crowd trafficked areas.

Pros and Cons of Being a Clown

Pros
  • Making A Contribution To The Artistic Community
  • Making Industry Contacts That Can Help Advance Your Career
  • Flexibility
  • Variety And Excitement
  • You Get To Spend All Your Time Working On Something You Love
  • Big Social Circle & On-Stage Persona
  • Free Drinks And Food
  • Attractive Lovers
Cons
  • Inconsistent Income
  • Irregular Scheduling
  • Limited Opportunities
  • Your Schedule Will Be Run By Your Commitments