You’d think that social distancing rules have put a damper on clowning around but Uncle Chris the Clown has found a way to make it work.
Chris, who’s based out of Kamloops, is usually a staple at many Cariboo festivals, having been seen in the past at Easter celebrations in Williams Lake, Lone Butte Rocks and the South Cariboo Summer Festival.
“It’s either online or onlawn,” he says.
For the onlawn “parties,” he’ll set up on people’s driveway or on their lawn and the kids can watch the show from a safe distance away. He’s had to make some alterations, however, to make sure he can maintain social distancing rules.
“Normally, I have kids come up and they do the magic and all that, well they can’t come up anymore.”
Usually, he would also hand out balloon animals, colouring books or stuffies but he can’t do that anymore either.
“It’s just basically me entertaining them and giving them a break on how life is right now and it’s working out amazingly.”
The sessions last about a half-hour and are $125 but given the current situation, he’s made them pay as you can.
“If they can pay the rate, because that’s what I need to survive on too, that’s great but some are paying $40 bucks, $60 bucks $80 bucks and there’s no questions asked and it’s all good.”
Sometimes they’ve even somewhat become neighbourhood events where the families in a cul de sac will all sit on their own lawn at a safe distance away.
“It’s not just one on one, it’s groups now that are getting together to do this and everyone keeps their distance and it’s great.
For the ones a little further away, like 100 Mile House, he’s built a clown studio in his shop (although it’s still in progress).
“I’ll do the same thing. People call me through Facetime or Messenger or Zoom is what I use right now and I’ll do a little show for them through the computer.”
Since mid-March, he’s done about 40 plus social distance lawn parties and 20 online parties. Some of those online parties are from quite a long way away, including one in Iowa in the U.S. and one coming up next week in Australia. He says he’ll go further for the onlawn ones if he can line up a few things on the same day. The cost for the online ones is $25 for 15 minutes or $50 for 30 minutes.
“I’m just doing what I’m doing because, A, it’s what I do. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. And when this first happened, I got all the cancellations, birthday parties cancelled, big jobs cancelled. ‘Uh oh what am I gonna do now?’ and it wasn’t just the work part of it. Clowning makes me happy, you know, so all of a sudden I’m not out there making kids happy then I’m not happy.”
Since it all started there’s only been about two days he’s not clowned due to snowfall, he says. The turnaround meanwhile has been much faster than usual noting that he usually gets bookings well in advance but now it’s been just a few days.