A tidal wave of laughter is approaching Barcelona’s shores, with an entire clown community peeping out from below the city’s cultural surface. The Almazen Theatre has opened its doors to let some of them unite and perform a weekly show: Cabaret Cabrón. The comic genius behind these shows is a clown of clowns, Jango Edwards.
Stanley Ted Edwards was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950. Since kicking off his clowning career in London during the Seventies, Edwards has never had his wide-capped clown shoes firmly rooted in one place. He’s lived and travelled all over Europe, and been in Barcelona for the past three and a half years. Writer, director, producer, singer and performer for audiences from the Rolling Stones to the Queen of Holland, Jango’s professional achievements show he’s not one to fool around in the clown business. He is currently dedicating much of his time to being a teacher and mentor at the recently established Barcelona Clown School.
Why did you decide to become a clown?
When I was in the States and in college, I was into religion and politics, I was a capitalist, I was reading a lot of books about philosophy. After college, while I was travelling in Morocco, I read O.P. Ouspensky’s The Fourth Way. It’s about how to help yourself to become powerfully aware. I decided—this is it. I’ll use humour to help people. It’s a way to give. I was originally an architect, then I wanted to be journalist. Then I thought with comedy you absorb more on a lower level, it’s more profound, you retain it longer. It’s simplicity, a very universal language.
Why did you first move to Europe?
I decided to go to Europe, as that’s where clowning started. I went to London and visited a guy who I’d heard was doing a mime course there, but I happened to stumble upon an alternative school called the Oval House which at that moment, by luck, was a very happening place to be. There were a lot of great comedians working and teaching there—John Cleese for one. So I went to a clown class there, and within four weeks I had a teaching contract.
Would you ever return to the States to work as a clown?
I don’t work in America. They think I’m nuts. The people like me, but the people in control of the industry don’t. You don’t have much culture there. You have the commercial industry of comic, stand-up, sit-coms, television, movies you know. It’s all about Hollywood.
What is the basis of your ‘Clown Theory’?
When I’m teaching clown theory—basic level which is for anybody—we play games aimed for two to eight year olds, and we do things about operational humanity. To be a clown you have to love yourself, that’s the hard part, to know who you are and accept who you are. It’s self-therapy. I’m 57 years old, and my mentality is like that of a seven year old at times.
After enjoying such success as a clown, what is left for you to do?
I’m nowhere near done. I like different challenges. The school’s very important. At the moment it runs thee-month courses but we’d like to see a full year curriculum. We need more clowns all over the world. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen such a stressful, tense world as I’m seeing now. The whole world needs to laugh. War has created a spark globally that can’t be put out by aggression.