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Kenny Ahern – Amazing Entertainer
Featured Performer at the 2017 Convention in Thailand.
Kenny is an experienced circus clown who puts on an amazing and dynamic show that will thrill all. He has delighted audiences on many continents and toured with Ringing for years. Kenny’s performance cannot be missed. It is fantastic, incredible and hilarious.
You don’t want to miss this wonderful performance at the W.C.A. 2017 convention in Thailand. Kenny will also teach several excellent classes on movement, physical comedy and clown arts. You will love it. (I have studied with Kenny at many classes and workshops over the past 25 years and he is absolutely delightful and engaging. He draws from his years of experience to show how the inner clown mind works and expresses itself through the art of clowning.
His Resume and performance highlights include: Training with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College–BFA (Bachelor in Fun Arts) Circus World–Orlando, FL–MFA (Master in Fun Arts) The Soviet National School for the Circus & Variety Arts–Movement Workshop New York/Actors Center–Physical Comedy Master Classes with Bill Irwin and Christopher Bayes Tours Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus–Featured Clown Performer
Kenny also toured with the country music stars Brook and Dunn on their Neon Circus and Wild West Tour. His performance with this tour engaged and amused the audience to no end. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to study with and be entertained by one of the true gems of the clown world. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to study with one of the modern masters of the clown arts at the 2017 WCA convention in Thailand..
You will learn much from Kenny’s excellence and experience. Visit Thailand in 2017 and be a part of a one of a kind convention.
-Reported by Norm B. W.C.A. Marketing Director (and big Kenny Ahern fan!!).
PS (I have seen Kenny perform for clowns many times as well as for regular audiences over 20 times. He always delights and is an expert in the field of clowning around. You will learn much from this gentleman and Scholar of Clown Arts.)
Kenny interviews by Norm B. –
Way, way back what made you want to consider being a clown?
I kinda fell into clowning and then later found purpose in clowning. I was encouraged by a friend to join my local Clown Alley (Dale City, VA) in my senior year of high school. About that same time I started volunteering in the summer for an MDA camp. The camp staff were made up of mostly street performers on hiatus from performing. It was at MDA camp that first learned the positive power of therapeutic humor. I was inspired by the MDA staff and taught myself how to juggle and do pratfalls. I was encouraged to audition for RBBB Clown College by my community college English professor. I was never a jokester or class clown. However, clowning spoke to me. Once I realized this, things started to happen. Even on my way to RBBB Clown College in 1983, I was not sure about clowning. I was looking at it as an adventure, not a vocation. Who clowns for a living? Little did I know…
Who were some of your influences? I recall you once saying Danny Kaye…
Danny Kaye did influence my facial gestures. I was a child of the Sixties & Seventies, so I was raised on television variety shows; Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Flip Wilson, Smothers Brothers, Donny and Marie show and Shields & Yarnell. The cartoons Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry and Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote taught me a lot about timing (the Chuck Jones years). Actor/Entertainers Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor were huge examples of how to entertain. Charlie Chaplin, Otto Griebling, Grock, Charlie Rivel and Joe Jackson are my clowning influences. I am basically a comic hodgepodge of all these influences and many more.
I know you studied dance quite a bit and did research on eccentric dance. Could you share how “other arts” helped your clowning and comedy?
Music has been a big part of my life. I learned to play saxophone in middle school… many moons ago. I still play ‘sorta’ the soprano sax in my show today. My high school band director is very proud of this fact. My understanding of music methodology has definitely helped me with the comedy I create. In it’s purest form, comic timing is about creating a rhythm and then breaking that rhythm. The magic happens when the methodology becomes intuitive.
What is the best way to be original?
Being original is one of hardest things I do. I do not buy into the cliché that everything has already been done. My theory is that this phrase was created by someone who needed an excuse to justify copying another acts material. Hence my belief that one must be very careful not to blur the line between inspiration and imitation.
Have an idea? Write it down, audio record it on your cell phone, call yourself and leave a voicemail. You will forget the idea if you do not save it.
Some of my best material comes from spontaneous play during my show. You never know where an improvisational tangent will take you and what great material you can create on the journey.
Any books you recommend to help be a better performer?
Chuck Amuck (Chuck Jones)
The Spark-Igniting the Fire that Lives within Us All, (John U. Bacon and Lyn Heward)
Clown for Circus and Stage (Mark Stolzenberg)
What was one of the oddest/funniest occurrences during a show?
I had just returned from a cultural arts center tour of Taiwan. I performed in beautiful theatres, to packed houses around the island of Taiwan. Upon my return to the States, I was booked to perform for an intimate audience at a Wisconsin Supper Club. Every time I did a bit during the a Supper Club show… the audience laughter was delayed? I tossed my hat out to the audience, for them to toss back to me, and they did not attempt to catch the hat? A quarter of a way into my show, the person who hired me casually walked by me and whispered loudly, “I am sorry. I forgot to tell you… this is a party for the White Cane Society.” I am a silent act, and I was performing for an audience that was mostly blind! The kicker is… the client knew I was a silent act when she booked me! Why was the laughter delayed? The folks who were sight impaired were being given rolling commentary on my act, from the few sighted people in the audience. I adapted my act as best I could, sheepishly packed up and attempted a quick departure. The client ran up to me as I was making my escape and handed me my check. She gave me a big hug and said, “You are the best entertainment that we have ever had!” As I walked to my van, the Twilight Zone series theme song playing in my head.
What did I learn? Whether playing to 2500 people in a theatre Taiwan or to 50 people in a Supper Club in Wisconsin, give it your all and the audience usually will be with you. Oh, and also make sure you ask “all” the right questions when you advance a gig.
What is your favorite type of audience to play for?
Hands down, my favorite audience is a family audience. It’s also a challenging audience, due to the multigenerational makeup. This is why, when I create material, I am always thinking about how the material will engage at different age levels.
Can you recall a highlight from your circus days?
I have a special memory from my last time performance in the Boston Garden, on my last season with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I was fortunate to have the coveted blow-off spot. It was the last gag during the come-in, right before the show started. It was my job to get the audience hyped up for the start of the show. I did my hat scaling act for two seasons in this spot. I’d toss my hats progressively higher up into the seats, as I worked my way around the arena. I was born in Boston and the arena follow spot operators had learned I was a hometown kid and gave me the treat of having follow spots during my blow off act. This was not typical; spot operators were not supposed to start using the spots until the show started. So, they were working on their own time. During the last show I played the Boston Garden, something magical happened. As I stood in center ring waiting for the last and highest tossed hat to come to my head, the house lights dimmed and I was left in an envelope of light that left me breathless. In that moment a memory from my childhood returned. I looked to the end track of the arena, at the seats my Nana always bought us to see the Circus and Ice Capades. In that moment, I was brought back to those seats and the memory of watching Otto Griebling doing his pie tin blow-off. I was in the exact same spot that Otto had stood so many years ago. This was a pivotal moment in my life and career. I am sure the audience was a bit confused, as I went from my hyper-athletic clown character to a bit dazed and confused. The spot light swept up to the person holding the hat, leaving me in one spot. As the audience person let the hat fly, the spots followed the hat to where I caught the hat on my head, to the most thunderous applause I had ever experienced. It was in that moment, that I knew that I wanted to perform for the rest of my life.
As far as meeting someone special on the road, first would be meeting my wife Brenda; she was a fellow clown. A close second would be going out to dinner, along with the rest of the Blue Show Clown Alley, with Red Skelton in Kansas City, MO. We of course had barbecue.
If you ever have had a bad day… how do you get yourself up for a performance?
Pretty simple – my goal is for my audience to become so engaged in the show that they leave their worries behind. I cannot expect anything less from myself, than what I would hope for from the audience.
Could you share three tips on being a better clown.
Performing is ‘not’ about you. It is about your audience. Listen to them, they are your best director.
You will fail… learn from it, and move on. Do not dwell on your failure… and learn to savor your triumphs.
Our role as clowns is to mask reality with fantasy. Keep humanness in your performance and the audience will connect with you more deeply.
Has a fun slogan – “To Laugh is to Live!”
Submitted by: Norman the Clown an entertainer from Minnesota. http://aces-show.biz/normantheclown