amie Adkins is no ordinary clown.
“A clown is somebody who will try and sell you a hamburger in the US; I’m not that kind of clown,” says Adkins.
Although billed as a clown, Adkins has brought none of the professions traditional trappings — the garish face paint, big hair, and slapstick comedy — to his Circus Incognitus performance in the Yukon.
Originally, a clown was considered a “virtuoso” who did a little bit if everything in a show.
Adkins is that kind of clown, he told a group of high school students gathered in the Wood Street Centre’s gym on Tuesday.
He was teaching the high school students one of clowning’s most important skills — juggling.
He hands out dozens of yellow balls, and the students howl with laughter as they throw them in the air. Sometimes they catch the rogue balls, but most of the time they miss.
A 20-year veteran of the stage, Adkins had has his fair share of slip-ups.
“Don’t stress about dropping,” he tells the kids as dozens of dropped balls go bouncing across the gym floor.
“If you see my show, you’ll see lots of drops,” he says.
“And every drop is an opportunity to improvise.”
Although Adkins calls himself a natural clown, the performer came from a pretty ordinary family.
“My parents are still waiting for me to grow up,” he says with a laugh.
The California native knew he loved to juggle and perform, but as a child he never wanted to run away and join the circus.
“In the US ‘circus’ was a dirty word,” he explained.
Until one day when he saw a different kind of clown perform.
It was an act like the Cirque du Soleil, where the performance was more thoughtful.
“It focused on the human being, rather than the let-me-do-something-really-dangerous-and-have-you-applaud approach” Adkins had seen at other circuses.
So he moved from the US to Montreal — a city well known as the circus capital to those who run in clowning circles.
“Montreal is to circuses what Hollywood is to film,” says Adkins, pulling a laugh from his young audience.
He bills the circus as a family show, but it has something for all ages.
“Bring your children and your grandparents and everybody will get something different out of it,” he says.
“You’ll all be laughing at different times.”
Adkins will perform Circus Incognitus on the Yukon Arts Centre stage on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youth and seniors.