New York

I took clown classes – people think it’s all fun and games but it’s cathartic and there’s a secret tip to being funny

USUALLY, when people think of clowns, juggling bowling pins and blowing up balloon animals come to mind but my recent experience has taught me that everyone can be a clown.

As an actress, I was perusing The Brooklyn Comedy Collective’s website looking for improv courses and came across a class called “Clown.”


Ellie Rudy is seen performing during the classes with another attendee Ring YangCredit: Ellie Rudy
The Brooklyn Comedy Collective runs the clown classes


The Brooklyn Comedy Collective runs the clown classesCredit: Ellie Rudy

I had no idea what a clowning class entailed, but I decided to enroll because I’m 24 and live in New York City, and why shouldn’t I?

While the traditional balloon animal stereotypes are valid forms of clowning, this class took on a much more emotional tone.

Throughout the seven-week course, my teacher Tallie Medel, of Everything Everywhere All At Once, constantly encouraged me and my classmates to strive for vulnerability and childlike wonderment.

As an actor and comedian, performing comes second nature to me, so I thought clowning would come easily.

However, Tallie didn’t want performances; they wanted authenticity.

In one exercise, dawning our red noses, each of my fellow clowns and I had to go up in front of the whole class and only say the word “buh.”

The goal was not to entertain so much as lean into the discomfort of it all. Tallie coached us from the sidelines, asking questions like “Can you tell us a secret?” or “What’s a hidden talent you have?”

However, we could only respond “buhs” and body language.

My instinct was to try to make people laugh, but Tallie kept steering me away from that and said the secret is to try not to be funny.

They reassured me that the comedy would come from me not trying.

As I floundered on stage, they repeated the mantra, “You are enough, clown.”

That message really resonated with me, not only as a performer but as a person.

When I asked Tallie about their favorite part of teaching clown, they said, “You just get to see the best of people. It’s so joyful.”

And that joy that was so palpable during every class is what struck me most about the whole experience.

Even if we were “flopping,” every single person in that room was rooting for one another.

It was like silly, bizarre, outrageous, radically joyous group therapy.

Ellie Rudy is pictured above


Ellie Rudy is pictured aboveCredit: Amber Vickery

I enjoyed the class so much that I re-enrolled for the following session.

Anyone who has the opportunity to take a clown class should. I took clown classes – people think it’s all fun and games but it’s cathartic and there’s a secret tip to being funny

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