JOY: Laughter Is The Best Medicine
As a professional clown, Edmund Khong’s greatest joy is making children happy
WORDS LIM YEN SHUEN
PHOTOGRAPHY ESTELLE QUECK
Young or old, his acts will never fail to tickle your funny bone.
And though clowning is not commonly thought of as proper job in our culture, Edmund Khong, is one of the rare few who turns this idea on its head.
The 36-year-old is a professional clown and has a few accolades to his name. He clinched three awards at the annual World Clown Association (WCA) Convention, the world’s largest competition for clowns, in Bangkok earlier this year. Over 200 professional clowns were vying for the title of Best All-Around Clown, which Edmund won. He also came in first place in two other categories: Paradeability and Character.
Edmund started becoming interested in clowning at the tender age of 8. He enjoyed entertaining his relatives with magic tricks during Chinese New Year. Soon, he began incorporating juggling, balloon sculpting and eventually, clowning to his acts.
He started training in 2004 and clowning has been Edmund’s profession for the last 12 years. Every year, he would try to attend various overseas conventions, gatherings, competitions and lectures to improve his skills.
Edmund offers a variety of characters in his repertoire and this makes him stand out from other entertainers out there. His three personas are: Captain Dazzle, a comedy magician-juggler with no facial make-up on; Captain Bubbles, the traditional auguste clown; and Professor Bananas, a safari explorer character clown.
Some people actually find clowns “scary”. It doesn’t help that popular culture typifies clowns as bloodthirsty killers, most recently seen in horror clown movie, It, that starred a murderous clown known as Pennywise.
“A lot of people think that it is easy to be a clown, so they reckon that one doesn’t need sufficient time to train or be educated in order to be a clown,” said Edmund.
This results in real “scary” clowns, adds Edmund. People try to make a career out of clowning, despite their lack of sufficient training. Without proper knowledge in applying makeup, these clowns end up looking very scary.
“A lot of people feel that a clown’s makeup is actually a mask. It is not a mask, it is the reverse of a mask. We’re not trying to hide behind the mask, it helps us bring out our emotions even more,” Edmund justified, his facial features contorting into a caricature-like style.
Despite his challenges, all the hard work of practicing makeup and perfecting acts is definitely paying off.
“The passion you have for something has to be in line with what the industry wants. Aspiring entrepreneurs should be in continuous evolution and challenge their boundaries for the sake of relevance,” Edmund advised.
By integrating both his clowning and business skills together, he manages to create his own brand and identity.
“Remember to always create something that is unique because if you try to copy somebody, you will always be known as a copycat,” added Edmund.
“As long as children are entertained, have had a good laugh and they have fond memories of me, my job is done,” chuckled Edmund.
Edmund thinks of all kinds of ways to add value to the events and finds it rewarding to make others happy.
“I’m always thinking about how I can create beautiful and good memories for the children,” he said.
However, it is not just the children who are on the receiving end. Edmund explains that he has learnt a lot from interacting with his receptive and innocent audience.
“Children have no boundaries, they rarely feel that certain behaviours are not appropriate. They are also very expressive”
Edmund feels that clowning is a relatively easy job. Young clowns look up to him as a form of inspiration.
Some people know what they want to do with their lives and many don’t. When asked about the reason behind his future plans, Edmund replied:
“Nothing gives me greater joy than to make children happy. And I really don’t see my work as work. I see my work as a passion; I see it as part of my life.”