Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 27, 2012

Circus returns Monday, Tuesday

VALDOSTA — A heart attack led Tom King to transform his career in corporate security to becoming a clown.

Following the cardiac episode, a doctor told King to find something less stressful, to find something he loves.

A joy for clowning became an independent career for the past quarter century. This year, King’s Tom E. Boy became the advance clown representative for the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars playing under the big-top tent for two days next week.

The circus is scheduled to feature trapeze artists, tigers, elephants, acrobats, dog acts, a human cannonball, and, of course, more clowns.

King’s Tom E. Boy has kind of become a king of clowns, says Dan Baltulonis, the circus senior marketing representative. King is a past president of Clowns of America International. He has written a book on clowning, an instructional book that covers everything from being a professional clown to a hometown clown.

King began clowning as a hometown clown, a fellow who knows comedic bits and tricks but also knows the essentials to making a living or supplementing an income through clowning. These essentials include face-painting, etc. King’s book also deals with the modern-day boom in people who fear clowns.

During his visit to The Times, King attributes this increased fear to Stephen King’s “It,” a novel about a demonic killer clown.

“There are phobias for everything,” King says. “People are afraid of heights, afraid of the dark ... so some people fear clowns just as some people fear other things. ... There has been a stigmatism associated with clowning in the past few years that wasn’t there several years ago.”

Tom King also says many inexperienced clowns create unnecessary hysteria. They are too excited to be wearing the clown make-up and costumes. They approach people too loudly with too many sudden moves.

In making his public appearances in malls, King says he does not boldly approach people, especially children. He prefers letting people approach him. He shares the story of being in a mall where one girl would not come near him for fear. King handed circus tickets to the children and families who approached him. Seeing this the girl overcame her fear and approached him for her free ticket.

Kings says he also faces less uncertainty since he changed his Tom E. Boy character from being a white-faced clown to a red-faced clown using far less make-up.

He shares the three circus clown archetypes.

The white-face clown is typically the boss clown. King’s red-faced character is usually the “goose” clown, the one that does pratfalls, gets hit by pies, etc. The white-face clown typically throws the pie that hits the goose clown in the face. Both of these clown archetypes have their origins from European circuses. The third type is the American-created hobo or tramp clown, such as the sad-faced J. Emmett Kelly Jr.

In the early years of film, the clown tradition continued with less make-up; think Charlie Chaplin or the Marx Brothers.

“People become clowns to bring joy,” King says.

He recalls being hired for a small girl’s birthday party several years. The girl’s family had been experiencing a series of problems, causing even some relatives to avoid the birthday gathering. She was staying with her mother and grandparents. Otherwise, “no one came to this little girl’s party,” King says.

He arrived and came upon a plan. Rather than do his normal routine. He asked the little girl if she would like to put on a show for her mother and grandparents. King taught the girl some clown tricks, showed her how to apply clown make-up, and they performed for her family.

“Even though no one came to her party, she came up to me as I was leaving and said, ‘This is the best day of my life,’” King says. “... That’s why I became a clown to make someone’s day.”

That’s what the circus hopes to do this weekend.

Text Only
Local News
  • moonshine bust.jpg Police close illegal drinking house

    After receiving numerous complaints, the Valdosta Police Department shut down an illegal alcohol sales operation Friday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Black earns most votes in runoff

    State Rep. Ellis Black led the votes for state Senate District 8 Friday with seven of seven counties reporting certified results, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140724-LAT1.jpg Little Actors Theatre ready for summer show

    Since 2004, the Little Actors Theatre has provided a place for children ages 6 to 19 to express themselves through acting.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414-MichelleNunn003.jpeg Michelle Nunn visits Valdosta

    The day after learning that her Republican challenger would be David Perdue, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn kicked off her Common Sense and Collaboration Tour Wednesday by meeting with business owners in Atlanta, Athens and Macon and continued her tour Thursday morning by visiting the David S. Waller Unit facility of the Boys and Girls Club of Valdosta.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • lunch.jpg Valdosta One Lunch feeds summer-hungry kids

    Hunger is a concept that many people associate with third-world countries, not their hometown. However, in Valdosta, hunger is real. To combat this hunger, a group of Valdostans have created Valdosta One Lunch, a program that distributes bagged meals to children in need.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up.jpeg Moody squadron commander reaches milestone

    The 75th Fighter Squadron commander hit a career milestone July 17, by surpassing 3,000 flight hours in an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • water.jpg New equipment expected to deal with Lowndes water violations

    The Lowndes County Commission’s recent approval of $1.6 million for water-treatment equipment is expected to counter a past series of water-quality violations within the county.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results