Standing in the dark, scaring strangers. Luring kids into the woods. We had a new “clown” story on a daily basis…and it was CREEPY! The stories even made it close to home…as you can see in this story about one local school.
It had me thinking, how has this affected real clowns?! Then I happened to be hosting an event with one.
His name is Joey Madison and he makes his living as a clown here in Northern Alberta. Depending on the event, you may meet him as “Joey the Clown”, “Patches the Clown” for hospital visits, “Wacko Jr.” or “Lil Zoey”. Having worked building his name and brand for the past 19 years, Joey didn’t think the scary clown thing would hurt his business… but, “21 birthday parties, 7 Fall Festivals and 3 Grand Opening” cancellations later…I figured I’d give Joey the chance to tell his story!
Fav part of clowning?
“The interaction you have with people. I have had people laugh so hard they have to sit down only to find out this was the first time they have laughed since they lost a loved one years ago. I was a Biker rally this summer and sang this guy Happy Birthday and he hugged me so tight he picked me of the ground.”
What would you say to the creep clowners out there?
For my gigs I have missed out on, whatever…but there is lots of kids in hospitals that I promised I would be by their side. In 19 years I have kept my word and now since you guys came, I’ve broken my promise. I am not allowed in. I am afraid some will pass by the time I am allowed back. Others the trust is broken.
How did you become a clown?
“In the winter of 1996 I banged my head off the diving board prior to my lifeguard exam. I must have blacked out at this point because the next thing I remember is being strapped on a spine board, getting loaded into an ambulance. We arrived at the Hospital and I was immediately taken in for tests and X-rays. With no feeling from the neck down, I was parked in a room. There I laid, scared. But then the doctor came in and told me he has some good news. I had a form of whiplash and it will be a few hours or couple days, but my mobility would return. As I lied there a little girl came in and she pushed a chair beside me. She started to play peek a boo with me. Then the doctor came in so she ran off while he ran some tests. Once he left , she returned. This time she had bean bags in her hand she was trying to jam them into my hand. I asked her what she was doing, she said nothing, so this game went on for a few hours. Finally it happened… I was able to grip the bean bags. Then she looked me straight in the eyes and she said “Teach me how to juggle.” There I was flat on my back strapped to a spine board with almost no strength doing my best to juggle, as I did that she laughed and laughed ’cause she thought I was trying to be funny. This alerted a nurse who immediately got the doctor. He said, “It’s a start.” So the next few hours more and more of my range of motion returned. Until I was finally able to sit up and then stand on my own. The whole time this little girl celebrated every little thing like it was my birthday. When I was able to, I gave her a big hug. Over the next few months I had to go up for physio weekly. So I saw my little angel lots. One day after my appointment. I went to visit her and some of her friends. As I sat there on the ground she ran over to the nursing station and went into this nurses purse to grab a big red dot she put on the end of my nose. The room was filled with immediate laughter. I wanted more so I made funny faces. That night I went home and discovered a clown workshop I knew I had to do. So in this course I found what was hiding in me for so long. When I would come up to see the kids long after I needed to go to the hospital, I loved entertaining and they loved watching my every move. Always front row was my little angel. Until one visit, I learned she had passed away to cancer. I was so devastated… the staff told me how to get in touch with her parents for the funeral. I was not going to miss this for anything. On the day of the funeral I was greeted by her dad with a big hug. He passed me an envelope and made me promise I would open it later. It was a beautiful service and of course I said a few words on how she impacted my life. Then on the way home I took a deep breath and opened the envelope it was her favorite blanket cut into the shape of a heart. It was that moment “Patches,” was born and since that day it has been sewn above my heart on my “Patches” costume.
The clowning moment you’ll remember most?
One evening I showed up on the Children’s ward at a hospital as “Patches”… everyone loved and knew him. Kids were talking and playing with him. But, after two hours he had to go. I went and got changed into “Lil Zoey” and went back. It took some time but the kids started warming up to him. Then it was suppertime so “Lil Zoey” left. I went and got changed once again this time I was “Wacko Jr.” I waited till they had taken away the last food tray back and then I showed up with the most enthusiasm and energy for the day. I then left and changed into my regular clothes wnt back to the Children’s ward to read the kids some bedtime stories. The most memorable thing was the kids mentioned to me this was the best day of their life… as they have had 3 clowns visit them and now they are getting a bedtime story.
Thankfully, it appears that the “clown” phenomenon is slowing down… all the best to Joey!
You can reach out to him on his facebook page, below!