Class of clowns graduate in style

As Denise Underwood walks up on stage and receives her certificate of completion, she raises it up above her head saying proudly, “Look Mom! I’ve finally graduated college” as the audience stands and cheers in the foreground.

After five-long weeks, Del Mar College’s clown students were finally able to put on their favorite clown shoes and step up on stage to show off their skills and transform into the clown they’ve worked so hard to become.

Students performed skits in costume in front of an audience and showed off the skills they learned during the clown courses on March 22.

One of the recent graduates, Robert “Fumbles” Young, spoke about his experience and how Del Mar helped him find his way back to his calling.

“I started doing clowning on my own many years ago, but as time passed I started to move away from it, said Young. “When the clown college came around, I was excited and I jumped at the opportunity. I’m so glad I did it. It was a lot of fun and I’m so happy now that I’ve finally graduated.”

For young, being a part of clown school was more than an educational experience, “I learned so much from when I first started, but the greatest thing I learned is knowing that I’m not alone. To know that I am a part of a community is the best feeling in the world. I’m a Beeville librarian and I hope to use what I learned here at clown school to help get the children more involved and more engaged.”

Sharon “Shamo” Haynes  can’t get enough how excited she is to finally graduate, “I feel awesome. I feel amazing. I love seeing people smile and being happy this is why I wanted to be a clown.”

Haynes hopes to use her clown experience as a side job in the future, “I’ve been retired from my real job for a while, but I think I can do this on the side and help at birthday parties or visit children in the hospital. To see people happy is what I live for.”

Alan “Honey” Jones and Billy “Bling-Bling” Bird are Houston shrine clowns who are on their third-year participating in Lanky the Clown’s instructional courses.

“We love to come back and learn more every time and learn new tricks to get somebody else’s perspective,” said Bird. “Clowns always learn from each other. There is really no curriculum for it you just pick things up here and there to better yourself as a clown.”

Vicki Jones, Alan Jone’s wife, can’t get enough of her husband’s gift to make someone smile, “I am always dying of laughter after watching him perform. He really has a talent. This is his third year taking Lanky’s course, and I can tell you he gets better every time.”

Benjamin “Merl!n” Woodard, couldn’t agree more and expressed his own sentimental words about his experience as a professional clown and what he has come to conclude, “people see me perform and say it’s very entertaining. Well, in this business you have to be. You can’t be anything less.”

The college’s five-week clown school began Feb. 9 and ended on March 22 for the graduation ceremony. Throughout the clown school course, students learned elements to the art of clowning, such as the clown code of ethics, differences between clown type, balloon sculpture, magic tricks, character development and makeup application.

If the public is interested in participating basic balloon structure and face painting, Del Mar College will offer three additional workshops to the public in April. Cost is $30 for each course. For more information and to register, call DMC Continuing Education at 361-698-2122.

Basic Balloon Sculpture, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., April 5

Intermediate Balloon Sculpture, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., April 12

Face Painting, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., April 19

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