Sunday, August 30, 2009
Global Clown Congress Descends on Local Break.
TOONALOOK POINT, EAST COAST AUSTRALIA: Circus lovers of all ages were treated to an unexpected day of delights as winter's last decent swell coincided with the arrival of a contingent of clowns from the world over.
First to arrive on the scene was renowned circus tramp Otto Griebling, who cut a lonely figure, waxing his clown-board under a solitary street light in the pre-dawn darkness.
Otto, who paddled out off the beach, rode several waves on the end section in a mournful manner, suggesting that his was a lonely existence indeed. Early rising onlookers were said to be close to tears.
Witnesses report this melodramatic opening act was shortlived, however, as a several tiny cars swerved comically into the carpark and began disgorging implausibly large numbers of occupants. As many as twelve representatives of the famed Brazilian clowning and tumbling fraternity were seen falling out of a single early-model Suzuki Swift.
“I didn't know whether to laugh or cry” says local fisherman Tom Parrish. “seeing up to 20 of ’em, all trying to reach the same jump rock at once, challenging passers-by to 'smell my flower' and getting their implausibly large shoes stuck between the boulders – then choosing the exact wrong time to launch...”
Impressively though, a troupe of surfing Charivari clowns of unknown origin turned on a splendid routine of acrobatic maneuvers and spirited jumps off a mini trampoline and vaulting horse positioned on the high tide ledge, and out into the lineup, whereupon they paddled north around the headland never to be seen again.
By 9.00am, the scene at Toonalook was one of no-holds-barred comic gaiety. And as the traditional circus tune floated out over the lineup, local clown Frank Saluto pedalled furiously along the foreshore on a bike the size of a small briefcase, angrily denouncing the number of clowns who had invaded his break.
According to spectators, Saluto approached a trio of Japanese Harlequins performing a humorously synchronised stretching routine on the foreshore and accosted them.
“You're all a bunch of clowns” Frank shouted, “And I'm going to throw this bucket of water over you. Oh yes I am!”
The more the terrified Harlequins protested that Saluto not douse them with the bucket of water, the more animated and insistent Saluto became, until after a protracted theatrical exchange he finally threw the contents of the bucket at them.
Thankfully, the bucket contained not water, but confetti.
“That'll learn yas. Now Fuck Off!” Saluto reportedly exclaimed, taking a deep bow.
As the tide dropped and the swell became less consistent, several custard pie skirmishes were reported from the lineup, the most intense exchanges occurring when ageing campaigner Chester Sherman appeared on a Stand Up Paddleboard with a unicycle and a separate set of handlebars, giving the appearance of a bike-that-comes-apart.
Regular clowns applauded Sherman's follies but the moment he edged into the take-off zone, a number of clowns engaged in the time-honoured 'chase' routine, whereupon they set upon Sherman with most convincing mock violence.
Despite the physically draining nature of the clowning routines – the pulling away of chairs at the last moment, the construction of balloon animals, the pulling of an endlessly long hankerchief from one's pocket – the impromptu carnival lasted from dawn to dusk: as one troop of clowns tired of performing, there appeared innumerable replacement clowns willing to take their place.
One notable exception to this was famed french Pierrot clown Bernard Delfont, who spent the day slouched against the bonnet of his citroen clownmobile, and upon being asked when he was intending to join the frivolity in the water, responded with 'Pfffffft', and flicked his cigarette butt at your reporter.
By nightfall however, calm had been restored. The circus had moved on, and even Otto the tramp was reportedly nowhere to be seen. The only traces of the day was scattered confetti and numerous rubber chickens littering the high tide line.