I have been a Shrine Clown since 1982.  My first competition was in Denver at Imperial in 1983.  I competed as a White Face (all new members of our unit had to begin as a white face for at least one year before changing categories) and although I did not take a top 10 award in White Face Make-up, (there were over 100 White Face clowns in competition at that convention) I did take 3rd place in White Face with a Gimmick (Paradeability).  I’m really proud of that accomplishment, especially because the Gimmick I used, I personally came up with the idea and made it myself.  That convention set the hook and I’ve been competing ever since.

    I am often asked, why do you compete? I have competed in many clown competitions all over the US, both in and out of the Shrine.  I enjoy the competition and I look forward to seeing the score sheets from the judges.  I have learned a lot from the comments of the judges, who took the time to score me and make comments.  Each one of those score sheets, especially the ones with comments helped me to improve and become a better clown. Personally, I feel that if one judge makes a negative comment on your score sheet, you can say that was that judge’s opinion that day.  You may choose to agree, or disagree, however if all three judges make the same negative comment, time to reconsider what you are doing.

    This brings me to a discussion I hear from many competitors when they look at score sheets.  Why did I get a 9 from two judges and a 6 from the third judge?  You need to look at the other competitors score sheets that day to really understand the scoring. That 6 may have been the highest score that judge gave.  Those 9’s may not have been the highest scores given.  Maybe the judge that scored you a 9 gave someone else a 10.  Although the numeric portion of the score sheets determine the winners, I feel the most important part of the score sheet is the comment section.  It is obvious that a score of a 9 or a 10 is a good score, but I challenge the judges who score a 6 or below to make a comment to explain the lower score.  In my opinion, a score of 6 or below should require a comment to support the score.  To me a low score without an explanation is not helping the competitor.

So, when planning to compete I suggest you do the following:

1. Read the competition rules for your Association.  Don’t get surprised at the convention.  Know what will be expected of you in each category that you will be competing.

2.  Review the score sheet for each category you will be competing in, before you compete.  Know what the judges will be looking for when you are being scored.  Score yourself before you compete.

3.  Practice what you will be doing before you arrive.  If you are competing in a skit, plan it out, make sure you have a beginning, middle and blow off.  Find a way to use music in your skit.  But please, don’t compete trying to do something for the first time in front of judges.  It will look like it.

Hope to see you in competition.  Remember practice makes perfect.
See you down the parade route,
John “JAY JAY” Joseph
ISCA, 3rd VP