Spread a little sunshine

Spread a little sunshine

All the world loves a clown, right? A clown with 15 years' experience wants to teach performing, but you also have to be willing to practise the craft on your own

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Tony Leung, or Wing Wing, has been a clown for 15 years.
Tony Leung, or Wing Wing, has been a clown for 15 years.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP
Tony Leung Kin-win's job is to make people laugh. For 15 years, he's been known around Hong Kong as Wing Wing the clown. It's more challenging than you might think: how do you spread rays of sunshine, no matter how you feel?

Getting started:

"I love magic and used to spend a lot of time hanging out in shops that sell magic props," Leung says. "Then I was invited by the boss of a shop to perform, and that is how I started my clown career.

"There is no systematic training for clowns in Hong Kong, which is why I am working with Yan Oi Tong and the Juggling Home of Hong Kong to develop a certification course in clowning and performing."

The course will teach the basics, including juggling, magic tricks, comedy and clown make-up skills, Leung says. Anyone 18 years old or above may apply.

Moving up:

New clowns can't expect many jobs. They might have to offer to perform for free to try to build their reputations. Word-of-mouth promotion is important. As a clown becomes more famous, he or she will be able to charge more and get more chances to perform.

Way to the top:

Practice makes perfect and hard work pays off. Clowning is very physically demanding, so clowns need to work really hard to keep their bodies in good shape.

Tricks and gimmicks are ever-changing, so a clown should do research to keep up to date.

Above all, you have to know how to deal with people. Always be cheerful. Nobody likes an unhappy clown.

If you want clients to hire you again or refer you to others, you need to build good relationships. "That's a skill young clowns often miss out on," Leung says.

Where to apply:

Most clowns work on a job-by-job basis. They're invited to perform at birthday parties, shopping malls and company events. Also, Ocean Park has openings for full-time clowns.

Rewards and benefits:

The pay depends on the quality and complexity of a clown's performance. Some charge a few hundred dollars an hour. Others receive more than HK$10,000 to do one trick that lasts a few minutes.

A day in the life:

A clown's working hours are flexible, depending on clients' demands. To have a successful show, preparation is the key. There are props and equipment that have to be packed. The first step is to ensure you packed the right things.

"I usually arrive two hours before the show starts," Leung says. "There may be a traffic jam, or I might forget to bring a certain prop. If I get there early, I'll have the flexibility to solve all the problems.

Sometimes, a clown has to hurry to more than one show a day. "I might have to get dressed and do my make-up in the car," Leung says.

"On days I don't have a performance, I will practise my craft. If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to put in the time."


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