The faculty at Clown College are specialists drawn from circuses, entertainment centers and theater companies throughout the world. Clown College students receive training from highly skilled and creative teachers who are tops in their field. The faculty includes core teachers and guest teachers , as well as specialty coaches. Students are exposed to an array of clowning theories ranging from the highly disciplined style used at the Moscow State Circus to the improvisational forms used by the clowns in the New American Circus. While insuring that the masterful clowning of the past and present of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey is not forgotten, we strive to continue the growth of clowning into the 21st century.


     To underscore the importance of clowning, classes in clowning are given throughout each day of the eight-week session. Initially, students are placed in structured classes where they are taught the history of clowning along with the classic clown routines. Slaps and falls and the physicality of clowning are taught in a way which emphasizes the cartoon nature of clowning. After the first few weeks, the focus shifts to individual instruction. The student-instructor ratio is no more than two-to-one. The objective of the course is to develop a process whereby a student becomes involved in the creation of new clown routines and comedy material.  Throughout the session, instruction is complemented with films and videotapes of the world's master clowns and best-loved comedians.

Character Development

     By exploring a full range of personal attitudes and emotions in a comfortable environment, students are able to use their imaginations to fashion a multidimensional clown character which is integrated with the students personality. Focus, concentration, variation and transformation are emphasized in these classes.


     Improvisation is the heart and soul of clowning. It is the vital source for development of new material. Designed to bring out the clown in each student, this course introduces students scores of comedic premises. Students are able to develop and strengthen their creativity by learning new ways to imaginatively interpret or respond to a given situation.


     To teach the fundamentals of makeup application, students in this course learn about the three basic categories of clown makeup: Whiteface, Auguste, and Character. Given freedom to experiment with a rainbow of makeup colors, students create their own variation of one of these basic makeup categories. And through a careful process of trial and error, each student develops a makeup style uniquely suited to his or her individual clown character. Related classes in rubber nose sculpting and design and wig construction are also given. Students will learn how to apply makeup that will easily project into the stands of Madison Square Garden or a smaller venue.


     Since pantomime is the medium of expression for clowns, it is a high priority skill for students to learn. Mime is the poetry of silence, making the invisible visible. Once a student learns to create from thin air, anything they add in the form of props or costumes is icing on the creative cake.

Gag Development

     Clowns, like actors, dancers and other performing artists, are storytellers. The kinds of stories circus clowns tell are basically 2 1/2 minute live cartoons with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This course teaches students how to think, write, and structure clown gags.


     The techniques of balance and coordination , as well as the basic skills needed for stiltwalking, unicycling, juggling and various circus arts, are taught as well as a way to present and enhance the clown routines.


     Designed to build coordination and strength, this course teaches students the essentials of comedic gymnastics. By learning basic acrobatics and circus apparatus skills, a broader base can be used in their comic presentation.


     In dance, as in clowning, your body is your instrument , and through this class students learn timing, rhythm and grace from the physical perspective. Going all the way from a simple character walk to a big choreographed production number, there is no limit to the ways students will be able to incorporate the fundamentals of dance into their clowning. If you take a look at the great clowns, you will always find a sense of dance in their work.

Costume Construction

     After the clown's personality or inner character takes shape, the student can concentrate on his/her outer image -- the costume. With instruction in style, fabric, pattern and fit, students learn to create a suitable costume. Upon completion of the course, the student costume becomes the exclusive property of the graduate. If the student becomes an apprentice clown with The Greatest Show On Earth, this costume created at Clown College becomes his or her costume for road performances.

Prop Construction

     Under the tutelage of Ringling Bros. prop designers, each student learns the techniques of comedic prop building, from concept to design to construction and maintenance.  Students also learn the many uses of materials such as wire, wood and angle irons, plastics, foam rubber and paints. Working closely with a prop designer, each student designs a prop that he or she will use in the final school performance. The final product must be comical, durable, visible and packable.