Life of the Party
Sweetheart the Clown, or Vivien Goh, is one of the country’s most established female clowns. She shares with us what it is like to be a clown and how she got into the entertainment industry.
Written by Jean Khoo
Pictures by Vivien Goh
Clad in a quirky pink dress and a huge bow resting on her head, Vivien Goh – aka Sweetheart the Clown – was all smiles as she engaged in an entertaining repartee with her puppet, Baby Pinky.
At that very moment, she was in her element. Vivien was confident, hilarious and simply fascinating to watch.
This comes as no surprise as she has been performing as Sweetheart the Clown ever since she was 17 years old. In fact, she has been lauded as Singapore’s first female clown and the only female ventriloquist in the country.
Vivien, now 38, has performed at more than 1000 birthday parties and appeared in more than 10,000 live shows, delighting kids everywhere with her acts of balloon sculpting and ventriloquism (the act of speaking with little lip movement in a manner that makes it seem as if the voice is not from the speaker but from another source).
Unlike other clowns, she discarded the use of clown makeup in 2008 when she realised that the white face and red nose frightened the children. Instead, she uses Baby Pinky, her comical facial expressions and balloon art in her performances.
She takes inspiration from actors/comedians, Charlie Chaplin and Jim Carrey, saying that she used to mimic their facial expressions. Vivien mentioned, “When I was younger, I liked to make weird and funny face to make people laugh.”
The laughter and smiles from her audience, the adrenaline she experiences and the applause she gets after every show are what motivates her to continue doing what she loves. “When 21 year olds come up to me and tell me they remember watching me when they were a child, it makes me feel very happy to have made a difference,” Vivien said.
She admitted that the thought of becoming a clown has never crossed her mind before she was 17. “I fell into it by accident,” she said.
It all started when Vivien was a first-year junior college student. She had written a book of poetry called Vandawall and decided to sell it at the Substation’s Sunday Market. She said, “I started creating little 20 - 30 minute show, be it mime, poetry, solo acting segments,n order to et the space for free in return for the entertainment. It was there that met a clown, Roy Payamal, who got me to go on a TV program, “Star For a Day”.
A few months later, Roy asked her to replace him for a birthday party when he broke his leg, and she loved it so much that she have been performing ever since then.
During her miming days, she painted a heart on her face as part of her make-up, and that was why she chose the name Sweetheart the Clown.
Not long after, she set up her own talent management company, Zephyhdom (ngdom of the st nd), in 1995.
Today, Zephyhdom has grown into a successful business with more than 500 performers under its wing. They provide stage shows, emcees and singers, mingling entertainers, musical acts and more.
Vivien’s future plans are to “get more clients in the region” and that involves her expanding her business overseas.
She has only one advice for aspiring clowns. “Do it for the love, not the money. When you are doing something you love, you never work a day in your life,” she said.