Clown shortage felt in Nova Scotia
World Clown Association says membership is dropping
Not many people are laughing about the future of clowning in Nova Scotia these days.
America's largest clown trade group, the World Clown Association, says its membership has declined from roughly 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004. Participation in clowning is petering out in Nova Scotia too.
Miles Leahy has been clowning around Nova Scotia for more than 25 years ago, under the name Milo "T" Clown.
Leahy, the East Coast ambassador for Clowns Canada, said back when he started there were quite a few clowns.
"I actually had what was called a clown alley, or clown troupe, of all the local clowns and entertainers. We used to meet once a month. There was probably a dozen of us."
But now he says he's only aware of a handful of clowns across the province.
"It would be a shame to see it die out. I would love for the young people to take more of an interest in it."
They hang up their shoes and tuck away their noses and disappear into the woodwork.- Miles Leahy
Leahy said he's mentored a few young people, but thinks they lose interest once they realize how much work is involved
"When I got into clowning, I was told to develop your clown character, the final one that you work with. It takes almost seven years," he said. "It's a big commitment."
While becoming a full-time clown might not pay all the bills, there are other options.
Leahy has a job and performs on the side.
"Most clowns we call first of May clowns. They're clowns from May to September, during seasons when the fairs and festivals are. Then they hang up their shoes and tuck away their noses and disappear into the woodwork until next May."
Leahy said he considers it a privilege to be a clown.
"Over 25 years I've done so many birthday parties and events that there are so many pictures in the family albums, so many little videos. A little girl that I did her birthday party when she was four, is now in her late 20s and still comes to see me whenever she knows I'm around. It's just that personal aspect," he said.
"There's nothing more musical to a parent than the sound of their own children's laughter. And you hear a lot of it when you bring a clown into your house."