Boo-Boo the Clown!

Meet Ron Yarborugh, a man who brings laughter to young and old alike as Boo-Boo the Clown.  He has been a member of the W.C.A. since the mid 1980’s and is a long time circus clown, including many years at the Ringling Brothers – Circus World in Florida.

Ron’s start in comedy came at a young age. “My twin brother and I loved the old Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movies. After the movie we’d go home and act it out in front of my family and friends.”  They took turns playing Martin or Lewis. “I noticed Jerry got all the laughs and as I started getting serious about it I started to understand how Jerry worked and why the jokes worked.” The fun part ofr the brothers is that they got lots of attention

Ron was heavily influenced by his grandfather. “Whenever he saw me, Grandpa always said, ‘do something funny.’ I dug deep to come up with new things to show him.” There word got out about Ron and his brother and they were invited to talent shows, school events and church basement shows. “We were always put up on a stage to do something funny, to crack a joke or do a skit. It was fun.”

At 23, Ron started clowning in full wardrobe. “I was a bit shy, and with clown make-up and costume, I could go into a different character and not be myself.” He enjoyed it and kept at it.  “I started as a home town clown. Any chance I had to get into make-up – I was there.”

He became a very active member of the Gator Clowns in Jacksonville, FL.  “Freckles really helped me out a lot. He was a great mentor.”

He finally met his hero when he sat in the audience to enjoy Jerry Lewis doing his one man show. “I gave Jerry’s assistant my business card and on the back wrote, ‘I Sure would like to shake your hand. You don’t the influence you had on me.’”  Jery knew where Ron was sitting, he could see his huge smile throughout the show and at the end of the show he stepped forward to the edge of the stage and shook one person in the audience’s hand – Ron’s. “I was thrilled to meet him.”

After a few years doing home town clowning.  Ron met his main mentor, the wonderful clown – Joe Dicks ala Jelly Bean. “He had so much influence on me. He is now 82 and if I called him now, he would drop everything and give me some advice. If I had a puzzle to solve about a comedy sketch he would say, ‘let me think about it for a couple days,’… and then the comic ideas start coming. We will sit at the kitchen table for hours and reminisce and come up with crazy ideas.”

Another guy who was a big influence on Ron has passed away, but Ron says he is one of the great hidden heroes of clowning, “Mr. Bill” Bill Hamilton. “He taught me to laugh at the world and provoke them to laugh at us.” Bill worked at great adventure theme park in New Jersey during the 1970’s and 80’s. Then went on to work at Circus World, and eventually became the boss clown at Circus World.

“I was asked by my mentor, Joe Dick who at this time was one of the Clowns at Circus World to come to Florida for a weekend to do a one day try out.  I was nervous and did not know what to do. Joe said that it was just like home town clowning only bigger. That is how I go it introduced to the circus. I stayed and ended up doing two and half years at Circus World.  That is where I really honed my skills. Bill Hamilton and Joe Dick were huge influences on me at Circus World.”

Life at Circus World was a joy. “It was the most fun I ever had clowning. It was such a variety, you go from doing a clown stage show to another part of the park where we’d do a clown routine as a part of the Country Western music and cowboy show. We’d ride in on a stage coach and be a part of cowboy shoot up then over to the another part of the park and I’d work with the trapeze act. I was the comedy relief for the act. I worked on the floor and did comic interaction with the aerialists and the audience.”

Ron left the Circus and met his wife, Theresa and they now have two children. Beth is a senior in High School and Brett is in the Coast Guard.

When he left the big top, Ron went into the corporate entertainment world.  Just as 2011 began, Ron was awarded the prestigious and rare “Master Clown Award” of the corporate performing arts industry.

Ron still does spot dates here and there with various circuses. Over the years hes worked with many including; The J.B. Franzen Circus and The Hamid Royale Tent Circus.  Most recently in the past several years, he has also worked with the Hanneford Show.

Ron’s main performances are now with his one man clown stage show – Clown Adventure. It’s a very interactive, 30 minute comedy clown show. “Basically it is about what would it be like to be in a clown’s pair of shoes.”  The kids and parents get involved and becoming part of the show. They have a very important role to making each gag or trick work. I juggle with a kid and then get up to juggling 12 balls at one time.”

The show also includes comedy magic such silly crayons, and the ding al ling band the All Bell where he gets people up to run the bells. He does a rehearsal and then does a comedy song with the band. His routine is full of original comic interaction that builds up to the finale.

His other show is a farm show for fairs called Clown in Country. It has a special interest in local and state agriculture with lots of comedy and we do talk about the importance of local agriculture. “I produce Mr. Chuckles a live chicken and lead a presentation of the Ding-a-Linger Band.” Another skit is the human milking machine where a person has to milk a human cow.

The show can work on any theater stage or Ron can bring his own huge portable stage on wheels for fairs and festivals. It is complete with music, lights and sound.

Ron success lies in his ability to really involve the audience. “There is nothing more sweet to the ears than the sound of laughter, especially when its provoked by something I said or did in the ring. I love the audience.”

Ron says that the secret to being funny is a God given gift of improvisation and knowing how to react to situation.  “It is hard to teach and harder to learn. It can only learned by doing it.  You react to a situation in the right way and you get that laugher reaction.”

Comedy comes from the reaction to the situation.  “You try your hardest – the reaction of your character to the unexpected.”

Ron is always trying new ideas for bits and skits. “I write a lot of stuff down and it may sit on my desk or in my notebook. for a long time. For example, with my foam props and I can have an idea and draw on it and then work on it and try it myself at a show and see the response.  You have to take them off paper and try out those new ideas.”

To generate ideas Ron says, “I look at what others do and then take it and stretch it and apply it toward my character.” This way it becomes something different and unique.

Ron builds very nice foam comedy props for entertainers and you can learn more at www.thecircusclown.com.

Boo Boo the clown is a bright colorful circus clown who delights all ages. Ron says, “He’s a mess, and that is what makes him so funny to the kids.”

Ron likes to describe what he does as being a “side-splitting architect of slapstick circus clowning.”

“As a clown I have to build the scene, set the stage for the fun that will happen. You have to be your own teacher, your own producer, creator and architect.  You have to do all that before you put it out there in the spotlight.”

It is a huge challenge for Ron to step into circus ring with a crowd of a thousand people or more, and do a new gag. There is some tension and stress. “I get over my butterflies by more and more practice and I try to make the gag better with each try.  I can build off what I expect from the audience.  I know they are going to laugh, but I want to make that laugh last a little bit longer.” If Ron finds a dead spot, he tries  to find ways to make some laughter come in that part of the routine.

I asked Ron if he ever wants to go and run away with the circus, he said simply,   “Every day.” He would love to tour again but he is thankful for his nice farm and as he says, “I really got it made.”

Learn more about Ron, or bring his great lecture to your Clown alley or Convention by checking out site TheCircusClown.com.

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