Molly Malone, "a clown for all seasons," has been a clown for 35 years. Currently, she works as a party clown and runs the House of Humor store in Costa Mesa
What do you do if you're performing for a bunch of kids, and you're bombing?
Well, you have to make sure to really involve the children in what you're doing. If a child is being rude, if somebody is saying, "I know how to do that trick" or things like that, you can invite them onstage to help you with the magic trick as your assistant. You make them a part of it.
I've heard that clowns have certain words they'll use to save an act, like they'll say "booger" or something, and it's a guaranteed laugh.
There are things like that, sure. You really have to think on your feet and stay two steps ahead of the kids. I was doing my magic act, and my fish didn't appear in the bowl. He didn't come up. The kids were falling out of their chairs, they thought that was hilarious. I said, "He's a magic, invisible fish!" It got a big laugh.
Have you ever dealt with a really mean kid? Some kid who was hitting you with a piñata stick or something?
It's very rare that children will be rude to me. I'm very careful with the piñata.
There are a lot of kids, and even some adults, who are afraid of clowns. What do you think that's about?
In some cases, I think it's really just to get attention. There are those terrible movies about scary clowns—I don't approve of those at all—and people see those when they're young and it can leave a lasting impression. I just recently went on a cruise, there were a hundred clowns aboard and we called it Clowning Around at Sea. I was beautiful—I had hot pink hair and color-coordinated clothes—and there was a woman there who told me that she'd been terrified of clowns her entire life, until she saw me! She wanted me to paint her face, and she joined in as part of the fun. It's a wonderful thing, being a clown and getting to be who I am.
Have you heard of people with clown fetishes? Do you know about clown porn?
I don't approve of those things. We clowns follow a very strict code of ethics. We don't smoke, we don't drink, we don't cuss, and we don't do sexual things. It's vital that we keep an innocent and wonderful image for the children. These people who have clown fetishes and so on degrade the image of clowns. Where have you seen these things?
Oh, it's around. Like there's this girl called Ducky Dolittle who used to dress as a clown and sit on birthday cakes.