The Clown of Clowns


I’m Italian and I come from a family which has been working in the circus for 7 generations. My father was a trapeze artist and a juggler, and I made my own debut in 1971 as an acrobat and a juggler. Since I was a child I had been dreaming of becoming a clown, but my father used to tell me that the art of being a clown was the final step and not the debut in the world of circus because, as a clown, you have to master all the other circus arts: good acrobat, skilled juggler, capable musician, sure! But also the ability to amuse is important. In the show I have a quite technical routines of juggling, but everything is functional to laughter. A juggler must surprise people, I also must amuse them. The aim of the clown is laughter, everything is in service to fun and you should never take anything too seriously. I’ve been influenced by many clowns whom I saw both in circus shows and in movies at the cinema. Charlie Chaplin deeply influenced me, I deem he’s the greatest clown. I took a long time to become a great clown and the process is still to be perfected; you always have to challenge your limits, to put yourself under discussion after every show: a performance may always be improved the day after, or get worse...

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I don’t speak much on the stage, but I don’t make mime shows. If I need to say something or to sing a song, I can do it. A mine has precise limits, but not a clown. A clown is a free spirit, not only in the world of circus but also in the show business. I haven’t got a message for all, everybody is taking home whatever he prefers. The Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s director said “If you want to send a message, send a telegram, don’t make a movie”. We are in the show business, we have to entertain the public and to express ourselves. The only thing that I wont to give is emotion, I empty my pockets from my emotions and my public takes the ones they prefer. We are human beings with our sad moments and the happy ones, as any other. A clown is born and dies every evening. He’s born when he starts making up in the dressing room, and dies when he leaves the stage. Henry Miller said “A clown is a poet in action”. The augustus and the white clown are the metaphor of life. Father and son, master and apprentice. The positive side is that sometimes the role can be inverted. Therefore, the augustus, whom most of times the public tends to identify with, shows to the white clown that he’s more intelligent, because he makes all the forbidden things of life.

First of all you have to be aware of your own roots and traditions to understand how to match them up with the new tendencies; then you have to look around: what “worked” 5 or 10 years ago, maybe today needs some innovation; when in my gags I mime a record getting stuck, many young people can’t understand it because they’ve grown up in the “CD-era”, and CD don’t skip as the vinyl. My job is simple, but in the meantime it’ complex and requires cleverness. You have to seem “naif” but in the meantime you have to be very watchful to everything happens around you. Some days ago I was in front of a very young public, for whom a clown was not “cool” and, as soon as the show started, all of them were treating me as a Buffon, then slowly they started becoming fond of the show and in the end they were all silent, following me. This is one of my big satisfactions. Every evening I meet a different public, there’s difference in public even between two towns 15 km away one from the other, even between the afternoon spectators and the ones of the evening! And you have to understand all these differences and take advantage of them. An artist produces a painting which remains the same, but a clown may change everything instantly if he understands that the right direction to take in that occasion, is a different one.

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I’ve worked occasionally in the streets. It has been funny. You can improvise and I think that it’s easier because the public has no expectations, they haven’t paid any ticket, if they want, just stop by and look, or else they just go past. The comedy juggling is becoming more and more popular in the streets, but unfortunately I see little originality. It’s not easy to do something new, but it’s better. Many copy from me, but it’s their own problem, and they make more damage to their own image than to mine. You need to be sincere with yourself. For instance, I love painting, I tried many times, I’ve studied, but I’ve no talent for that. I have to accept this conclusion. So I visit art galleries, museums, I observe other painters and I enjoy all of this. And this is what young people should do: understanding if they are talented to become clowns and persist only if they are, otherwise it’s better to change direction. A lawyer who’s a terrible lawyer, could maybe turn out a great tennis player; it’s enough to be able to choose the right street.

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