During the summer of 2008, I attended Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp. Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp (or Moose Camp) is the clown school created by Tricia Manuel, also know as Pricilla Mooseburger. It is a one week intensive clown school designed for people who want to learn to be "real" clowns. Tricia and several of the instructors are former clowns with the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.
I signed up for the Clown Camp in January, 2008. I was excited and nervous at the same time. When I signed up, I thought I would have plenty of time to put together a costume, work on designing a clown face, and practice juggling. Time flew by quickly. When I signed up for camp, I also joined the Clown Forum. The forum has been a great place for me to learn and helped prepare me for camp even if I hadn't had the time to work on my face or juggling.
At some point in the spring, I picked my clown name Sir Toony Van Dukes. The name took a while. One of the names I liked was Honeydukes, which comes from the Honeydukes Sweetshop in Harry Potter. Not wanting to steal that name, I used it for inspiration. One day, while walking my dog, I noticed a sign on someone's house that said The Van Dykes. I Thought that would work well as Van Dukes. I sometimes call my dog Sir Bud, so I used the Sir and added Toony to make Sir Toony Van Dukes.
In the spring, I purchased some clown grease paint makeup, a wig, some costume accessories, a simple clown costume and clown shoes. I also bought some fabric which I hope to use to make a new costume.
I haven't had time to sort through all of my pictures, but here is a start from Tuesday and Wednesday.
Moose Camp 2008
Day 0 - Monday Night
I went to Minneapolis on Sunday, two days before camp began so I could tour the area including going to the Mall of America and seeing the Spoonbridge and Cherry. I made arrangements with some of the other clowns who were arriving early to get together on Monday for dinner. After dinner, we had a small balloon jam in the hotel lobby. Two young boys were thrilled when they saw all of the balloons.
Balloons from hotel balloon jam
Several people gather to watch one of the balloon twisters.
The bus came to pick us up from the hotel and bring us to camp. We made one stop on the way to pick up more campers at the airport. Once at camp, everyone checked into their rooms, ate dinner, and attended an camp orientation.
Bus to Moose Camp
Moose Camp was held at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo Minnesota. They have a great facility on a lake.
Professor Tolzmann's Mechanical Musicl Menagerie
Dinner buffet on the first night
After dinner, the staff treated us to the Meet the Staff Show. It was the only time in camp that all of the instructors were dressed in their normal clown outfits.
Campers gather in the Red Mezz before the Meet the Staff Show
Rex Nolan before the Meet the Staff Show
Mary Ann Porter as MariBella the Fairy Godmother at the start of the Meet the Staff Show
Pricilla Mooseburger and Christopher Hudert
Greg and Karen DeSanto
Chris Hudert and Cherry Mooseburger
Dan Langwell / Fitzwilly running the audio for the show
Dan Langwell / Fitzwilly plays with balloons
Staff group picture
Greg DeSanto after the show
Balloon jam on the first night after the Staff show
My roommate at camp, Bobby Green, on the first night twisting balloons
Wednesday morning began with Yoga. Many campers were up early and joined in. Every day, the crowd got smaller and smaller.
morning yoga on first day
I signed up for Clowning 101. The Clowning 101 class met every morning of camp. We
had about 30 people in the class, and after a brief introduction and clowning exercise,
we split into two groups. One half of the class would work on movement and character
development while the other half learned how to apply clown makeup.
Tricia Manuel, also know as Pricilla Mooseburger taught the clowning portion of the class.
Mark Renfro, a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown, taught the makeup portion of the class. The first morning, we kept it simple and only used Clown White, black and red makeup. Mark covered the basics of working with grease paint, brushes, and powder.
At the end of each class, Mark would share a trick with the class. The first day, he showed us how to cut a star into a newspaper so we could make a birthday child the star of the show.
Clowning 101 in the Makeup Lab on the first morning
Mike on the first morning in clown makeup.
Pinky on the first morning as the star of the show.
Each day, after lunch, Mary Ann Porter from KidMagnet Entertainment, taught Clown Dance. I participated in a few of the sessions. They also had time to make juggling balls, and visit the dealers room after lunch.
Doing the Hokey Pokey at the daily Clown Dance lessons.
Mike in clown makeup on the first afternoon of camp.
Making juggling balls out of rice and balloons.
Christ the King Retreat Center
Wednesday was theme night and the clowns were encouraged to dress as hobo clowns. Before camp, I found some fabric which could be used to make a quilt at the fabric store and thought it would make a great hobo costume. I put it together the day before camp. I think it turned out great!
Mike before the hobo dinner
A table of hobos at the Hobo Dinner
Everyone was assigned one or more skits for the All Star Clown Show on Saturday. I got the spot as Barker in a shell game and during the first rehearsal, I also got the role of Hot Dog in a "Wild Dog" gag. One of the bigger group gags was the clown car.
A dozen or more clowns piled in the Clown Car during the first rehearsal.
Wednesday evening's entertainment included the 2008 Moose Camp Gameshow hosted by Mark Renfro. They had plenty of prizes and surprises to give out.
Clowns dancing before the start of the 2008 Moose Camp Gameshow
Mark Renfro, host of the Moose Camp Gameshow
Row of gameshow contestants wearing funny pink hats
Thursday began with a morning Round Table with Rex Nolen. He had some fun stories. It continued with breakfast followed by Clowning 101. Two workshops after lunch and the All American Pie Fight before dinner. In the evening, we had the Ralph Pounder Memorial Scholarship Fund Auction.
Mike on Thursday morning in the Makeup Lab
Gag Rehearsals - Shell Game
When it came time for the All American Pie Fight, Greg and Karen DeSanto performed a gag for the group. They were two painters putting up wall paper, but things just didn't go as expected. After the gag, the gave some pointers for making good pies and the proper way to take a pie in the face (and wipe it out of your eyes).
All American Pie Fight - Greg and Karen DeSanto
All American Pie Fight - Greg and Karen DeSanto
Campers watching the Pie Fight
Kyle taking a pie
Campers getting involved in the pie fight
Friday began with a Round Table discussion with Brenda Marshall. In Clowning 101, Pricilla invited us into the Dealer Room to look at costumes. Two more workshops in the afternoon followed by the Mystic Toy Juggling Show before dinner. After dinner was the best evening performance of the week, An Evening with Pricilla Mooseburger.
Mike in the makeup lab on Friday morning. This time I tried an Auguste clown face.
Mike in costume on Friday morning getting ready to visit Pricilla's costume area in the Dealer Room to discuss costume options.
Mystic Toy Juggling Show
Warming up the audience before An Evening with Pricilla Mooseburger
Tricia gets ready to become Pricilla Mooseburger
Pricilla powdering her makeup
Finally starting to look like Pricilla Mooseburger
Pricilla Mooseburger in full costume and makeup
Christopher Hudert and Pricilla in a Q&A Session
Saturday was the day of our big show. The morning began with a roundtable discussion with Greg and Karen DeSanto. We had a short session for Clowning 101 where Mark and Tricia made sure we were all ready for the show. After class, we had a rehearsal for the Finalle and Kazoo Band. After lunch, we did a full run-through of the show. Then it was time to get into costumes. They had a professional photographer there to take individual and class pictures. Then it was time for the show.
Kazoo Band Rehearsal
Mike showing off his kazoo during the Kazoo Band Rehearsal
Show run-through - Pinky in the Miracle Vitamins Machine
Clowning 101 Students waiting for group pictures before the show
One of my partners in the Shell Game
Clowns lining up for a big group picture
Sir Toony and friends
Sir Toony before the show
Pickles and Pinky
Pricilla Moosebuger and Axe
Sunday was a short day. It began with our graduation before breakfast. After breakfast, we had a short Clown 101 session. Everyone started leaving and the bus took us back to the airport at noon.
Picture board showing several of the students' Before and After pictures
Staff presents Mark Renfro a quilt
Mark and Tricia at the last Clowning 101 session
Here are a select few pictures of myself at camp.
Mike outside after the Hobo Dinner
Before camp, I had designed a basic whiteface clown face. I used that face for most of the week.
Mike tries on a big nose and glasses after the second morning's makeup lab.
Mike as a whiteface clown on the second afternoon.
On the third morning, I wanted to try something different and I put on an Auguste clown makeup. I was rushed for time, so I didn't use the Auguste base makeup, just the white, black, red and blue. As part of that class, we put on our clown costumes so Tricia could help us accessorize and come up with new ideas.
Mike with Auguste Clown face
Mike in clown costume
Saturday, we had the All Star Clown Show. Most clowns took time during the week to make a kazoo for the Kazoo Band. After the rehearsal, everyone got dressed in their clown outfits, had their individual and group pictures, and went to the show.
Mike at the Kazoo Band rehearsal
Mike as Sir Toony Van Dukes in his clown costume before the class pictures.
Mike as Sir Toony Van Dukes in his clown costume before the All Star Clown Show
Pinky, Bodiddly, Mike as Sir Toony Van Dukes, Pickles, and Emily DeSanto at the show
Mike with his Kazoo after the show in front of a big clown face.
Mike as Sir Toony Van Dukes with Pricilla Mooseburger after the show.
Several members of the Clown Forum gathered for a group picture after the All Star Clown Show. We wanted to get the picture before everyone got out of their costume, but we couldn't get the group together in time.
Mike on the bus home