Angie Wakeman: the joy of clowning around in life (#49)

Do you feel stressed, tired and anxious? Have you lost some of that joy and spontaneity and happiness you once had? Perhaps you can learn some life principles from clowning. Today we talk to Angie Wakeman about what clowning can teach us about communication, relationships and life. Angie used to be a staff nurse and briefly a steiner teacher. She has a degree in politics and sociology.

Today Angie is a clowning facilitator and runs clowning workshops as a means of helping people find joy and freedom in life. Angie says that clowning helps to reduce stress and improve our mental health. It helps us to be our authentic self. 

We hope you enjoy this entertaining conversation with Angie Wakeman.

You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or Simplecast.

Show Notes

1:33 – being present rather than prepared.
4:26 – the moments that happen when we’re present.
6:04 – being in the moment allows you to interact with your audience.
7:56 – does the costume help to lower inhibitions?
9:43 – curiosity, empathy and naivete.
11:28 – training yourself to see as if it was your first time seeing.
14:00 – how did clowning start for Angie?
16:23 – clowning is vulnerable and authentic.
24:10 – how Angie’s previous careers helped with clowning.
27:31 – clowning in the corporate environment.
32:10 – you are more than the role you perform.
34:23 – the value of staying in the mess.
36:50 – those moments of stuck aren’t real.
38:32 – making the time and space to play.
39:53 – status games.
45:23 – clowns play, they don’t act.
46:22 – overthinking makes us perform worse.
48:18 – the role of the court jester.
51:22 – how the class transforms through clowning.
56:51 – we connect through our imperfections.
1:00:02 – connect with Angie.

Links to references

Bluey Episode – Born Yesterday

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone

Angie’s clown school:

Key Quotes

“One of the core principles of Clowning is to not be prepared.”

“If you come prepared you are not open to the surprises.”

“We are so caught up in wanting to look right and to sound right.”

“Beautiful things start to emerge when you are not prepared.”

“The most creative space is not to know ahead of time.”

“Clowns are willing to be in the mistakes.”

“There is an innocence, wonder and curiosity with clowning.”

“Everything becomes fascinating when clowning.”

“Clowns experience things for the first time.”

“You need to see the trees and feel the bark…Otherwise you are just charging through life…for what?”

“I have often looked at the world and thought everyone is trying to look normal.”

“I adopted 3 children and they were my door into clowning.”

“Clowns find their laughter through the mistakes and the vulnerability.”

“I’m not interested in performing, making people laugh. I’m interested in the authenticity of the clown.”

“We are learning to play together with no competition, no one wins.”

“It’s not what you do in clowning that matters, it is how you live through what you do that matters….the relationship matters more than anything.”

“The biggest thing I learned through clowning was not to judge other people. All judgements have just gone”.

“I really don’t care if people judge me. Judge all you like.”

“People have a deep need to be seen and heard.”

“Clowning is an opportunity for people to be seen and heard.”

“I am just helping them remember who they are and who they want to be….I just want them to unlearn the nonsense about the rules.”

“You are more than the role you perform.”

“Clowns always find the pleasure in something.”

“Workplaces need to make spaces for creativity and play.”

“A Clown always says YES!”

“Clowns are not acting. They are feeling, they have no agenda, they play”.

“Playing comes from inside of us, acting is more from the intellect.”

“Thinking is overrated in clowning, why would you do that when you can play?”

“I’m not interested in status.”

“The whole class transforms to one of connection, warmth and love for one another.”

“However they come, they are beautiful to me, I love the divine in everyone.”

“The clowns are reflecting back your own humanity, they are just a mirror.”

“We let go of our need to be perfect and reveal something more perfect.”

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.