Clown has many parallels to the subbody method because both involve vulnerability. What differentiates clown from the bouffon is the treatment of the shadow. Whereas the bouffon exposes the shadow of the other or audience, the clown exposes the shadow, vulnerability, or weakness within him/her/themselves. The clown is also associated with innocence/naivety whereas the bouffon is like the ruthless wise creature. The clown is also associated with failure. See section failure.
For this reason, the clown can make equal use of shadow work. Once the shadow is located, the shadow is performed. If the clown archetype is to be adopted, it is a good idea to know the basic guidelines:
1. No laughing at own flops/naivety.
2. Connect to the audience and react to them accordingly.
There are two main forms of flops a clown can take. To begin, we can search for something we feel we excel in. Though the shadows of our strengths can be generated, consider authentic vulnerabilities with our actual strengths. Jacques Lecoq identified two different kinds of flops.¹
The clown acts out an absolute disaster while he/she/they appear to feel complete competent and masterful.
The clown simply fails to do what he/she/they intended.
The double image is a movement pun. Charlie Chaplin, Harpo and Chico Marx make great use of them. For instance, the act of throwing a strike in order to harm someone (then a police officer comes by) can be immediately shifted to throwing for a sport. In this way, shifting can also take the form of a lie. Essentially, the context shifts. Another term for this is recontextualization, which is made great use of in absurdist literature such as that of Russian writer Daniil Kharms.
Because the bouffon and clown are cousins, there may come a point where the two merge. If this happens, it is a case when one’s own shadows/vulnerabilities are being shown while or in close proximity to others’ shadows. Everyone loses with the clown/bouffon hybrid. The thing both have in common is deep audience connection. Here are two examples.
1. An individual mocks the audience, but in doing so, slips (instant karma).
2. The clown is the ghost who does not know he/she/they are dead yet, and so mocks those who are mourning over him/her/them for killing the mood. The clown have no clue that it is actually him/her/themselves that the mourners are mourning over.
¹ LeCoq, Jacques, et al. The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2014.