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Walking a Mile in His Big Shoes

March 21, 1992

As a recent graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College, I feel it my duty to uphold the honor of the profession that Bobcat Goldthwait has so ignorantly given a bad rap ("Goldthwait's 'Shake' Rattles Real Clowns" by Robert W. Welkos, Calendar, March 14).

If he has had a traumatic experience with one clown, by what logic does he condemn all? There are bad clowns, just as there are bad stand-ups. Clowns are people, too.

If Goldthwait finds makeup frightening, then he should keep in mind that the makeup is only a tool used by the clown to communicate. The real clown is the person underneath. Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy didn't need exaggerated makeup because film is much more intimate than an arena.

The clown uses his whole body to express. The stand-up must rely on intellect. Although stand-up comedians say things that are funny, slapstick comedians--clowns--actually do things that are funny. Slapstick comedians breach the barriers of language and time. Stand-up comedians are limited by the constraint of contemporaryevents and their own viewpoints.

A hundred years from now, whom do you think people are going to be laughing at, Bobcat Goldthwait or Charlie Chaplin and Lou Jacobs?

MONTY RUTH Hawthorne

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