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Jacksonville Clowns Yuck It Up At International Convention

Gator Clowns of Jacksonville

Hundreds of performers from around the globe are in Orlando this week for the World Clown Association’s annual convention.

One convention attendee is Tony the Italian Clown—otherwise known as Gator Clowns of Jacksonville President Bill Gillespie.

“Organizations call us and ask us if we can help them in their event with face painting, magic, balloons and skits,” he says.

Gillespie says attending conventions lets clowns improve their skills and learn new ones. And that’s important, he says, because not everyone who clowns around has what it takes to clown professionally.

“A lot of people say, ‘Oh yeah, I’d like to be a clown. I can act stupid.’ Uh, no. no. no. no,” he says.

So if that’s not a job qualification to be a clown, then what is?

“To make them laugh,” Gillespie says. “Bottom line: Make people laugh. Not make yourself look like an idiot or stupid or anything, but to make ‘em laugh.”

In addition to attending panels, parties and workshops, Gillespie and the other convention goers are competing for the title of All Around World Clown. 

They’ll find out Friday night who won.


Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.