The Most Interesting Person in the World

Archive for September 2014

Today was my first experiment in riding the TTC as a clown. I just got back from a week with Patch Adams in Costa Rica, inspired by our experiences in hospitals and on the streets. People in Costa Rica are so responsive, willing to be playful, and acknowledging your presence. Bringing this home to places where people still need it (like at Bay and King) is a challenge, but I will embrace that challenge.

The first skill to clowning in Toronto is not being emotionally dependent on people’s reactions. Yes, I want smiles, laughter, eye contact. But I don’t expect that. I will be happy with people pretending not to notice me but me catching them looking my way; with someone pointing me out to her friend and laughing while avoiding catching my eye; even with a growl or head-shake while staring at me defiantly. But my motivation is to amuse myself. So, when I’m surrounded by a packed subway car and no signs of life, I will look at my surroundings and pretend to be propelling the train further, attempt to do chin-ups but mostly accomplish grunting, and react with huge astonishment as we head towards Davisville and trees and the outside world become visible.

That said, it wasn’t bad. I had one woman video record me on her phone for a while. I performed my juggling routine with my new, hi-tech Invisible BallsTM. A streetcar driver showed me his buttons, which say things like “Treadle” and “Cab.” He pushed “Gong” a few times, which is like when you get a trucker to pull their horn (and I didn’t even ask!)

My first eight minutes into this adventure, the subway driver announced that they would be changing crews at the next stop. Then he added, “If you have any questions, ask the person with the red nose.” Then he added, “Her name may be Bozo.” Again he added, “I mean the clown.” I felt so proud! I looked around with my waving-hand gesture and puffed-out chest, being all, That’s right, I know everything! Come and ask me!

A few stops later, the man sitting closest to me introduced me to a woman getting on by saying, “She works for the subway.” I responded, “I get paid in smiles!”

At the end of one hour, what did I accomplish? Many people did smile. Some even while acknowledging me. One woman liked my impersonation of a woman on an ad. And the best comment was one guy, who called himself depressing, said when he exited, “I’m on my way to the hospital. Thank you for brightening my day!”

It’s just like clowning in the hospital. That brings it all back full circle.

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