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A typical TV Scene for a Rock Band’s House Party featuring a Polynesian Fire Dancer doing his act indoors with Real Tiki Torches, an Alien Robot & me as a Clown sight gag!

I get2 date the Lead Guitar’s Tall Beautiful Blonde Ex-Girlfriend and …Spoiler Alert… the house burns down! Cue Hunky Fake Firemen Extras. Whoops they’re too late as we party goers dance a Conga Line through the flames. Yes really (& they paid me at a higher specialty rate to boot).

The day starts with a 4:30am Alarm for 8am Hollywood Set Arrival (it takes a while to pull Johnny the Clown together). At 6:45am I’m running late and look a hot mess because I smeared my smile and cheek Make-Up with a powder puff brush (hate when that happens). How do you fix smeared Make-Up? Just add more…lots more. Several layers later I finish & jump in the car. 10 miles away I realize I forgot my Balloon Animal Pump. Disaster. Oh wait last night I pre-packed an extra Pump in my Fire Engine Red Back-Pack. Never mind. Whew.

Of course when I arrive it is Hollywood Street Cleaning day. Half the usual parking spaces available. I drive around 10 minutes & finally park & walk 5 blocks to the Studio causing a panic with cars driving by yelling clever stuff at me. Yes I know I am a Clown. Thank you. Somehow I arrive early & the Gate Guard is in a joking mood and says my Drivers License Photo doesn’t look anything like me. Good to know. A crowd is gathering so I use my Harpo Horn. HONK! Big laugh and the Guard passes me in.

Wow. On the side of the Sound Stage is a poster of the 1960s hit show MR. ED about the talking horse (a horse is a horse of course of course).

My Dad co-wrote that show and today I’m shooting on the same Stage. I call Pop and he loves it. Meanwhile the Producer introduces himself and there is a major discussion on whether my Hat stays or goes. Only above-the-line Production chimes in & I keep my big drawn-on mouth shut. The Hat stays (whew…it is pinned on & removing it would be a hassle). Wardrobe flips over my hand-made Costume. My new Red Wig and Yellow Derby get compliments in the Make-Up & Hair Departments …they were going to fight to keep the Hat if needed. It is decided to make my look Bigger, Brighter and Better. “Are you wearing those?” they ask about my glasses. “Never” I lie and say (they always make me put my glasses away so I’m kinda blind all day & no I can’t wear contacts so don’t suggest it, thanks anyway).

90 minutes later my face is completely re-done and I really like the new Eye and Lip Shades they use. Wonderful Make-Up Gal sprays the top of my head with “Profaces: No Sweat” & I’m good to go (they use it under rubber horror prosthetic masks and it will help me stay cool). Who knew? I then foolishly make the mistake of putting my own Wig and Hat back on and almost cause a Union Riot. The Hair Lady puts the wigs on people, not the talent. Oops. I am really really sorry. She is gracious and accepts my 3 apologies on bended knee. I make a Snake pop out of a can & say I stole it off a plane. She laughs. HONK & exit Stage Right.

The 2nd AD rushes me to set where there are so many Tiki Torches on Fire there is a full crew of Real Firemen for safety (they are standing next to the much better looking Fake Firemen Extras who are all Bodybuilders with Spray Tans). We are warned repeatedly not to get burned. Several people notice my large bag filled with flammable Balloons and the scene is re-choreographed so the Clown does not catch on fire while we Conga-dance around the room. Move the Torches back people. Protect Clowny.

Today I’m introducing a Classic Bit into my Act. Ladies and Gents, meet my New Purple Twirling Mini-Umbrella (thank you to my Boyfriend’s Aunt who is a Craft Wiz with a Glue Gun…her Gold Fringe & Pearl Plastic Trim are show stoppers). I work this Brolly like nobody’s business every time they yell “ACTION!” Conga this.

Opens on Polynesian Fire Dancer tossing Flaming Batons. Party goers cheer him as guy dressed as Alien Robot does pathetic dance to Herbie Hancock’s ROCKIT.
Enter Tall Beautiful Blondie Chick with Circus Clown.

Lead Guitar’s Best Friend: “Mitch your Ex-Girlfriend just got here with some Clown.”

Mitch:  “Hello Madeline. Hello Clown. Don’t get any of your hideous face paint on the couch. That goes for you too Clown.”

People start dancing but DJ screws up music so Mitch leads Conga Line.

Lead Guitar’s Best Friend: “Everybody let’s go to the Clown’s house…he’s got Animal Balloons!”

Mitch: “Oooooh Animal Balloons. You’ve done alright Madeline.”

Conga Line exits. Cue fire. Wrap Clown.

Later I couldn’t find my car because I refused to spoil my look by putting my glasses back on. A kid in a house yelled “Look Mom a Real Clown!” An excited tourist from Indiana stopped his rental car and took pictures. After a 15 minute hopeless search I dug into my back pack, put on my glasses, found the car and drove home. Another day at the office…

Watch my Dad’s 1957 Pilot Script for the long running smash PERRY MASON & an episode from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW on Ben Starr’s IMDb page:

22 Responses to “Conga Clown”

  1. Whoever said all your clowning around wouldn’t pay off? You make me proud. I assume I can borrow the makeup and costume whenever I want.

  2. Ann Peck McBride says:

    This was your best one ever….I love the fake firemen with their fake tans being protected by the real firemen.

  3. Andy Kaplan says:

    and you went the whole way without saying “Cram it, Clowny!”

  4. Laurie says:

    You’ve been making me laugh for over [hack, cough,spit] 40 years

  5. Subrina says:

    well,well,well didn’t I tell you that this was your year you are goin all the way baby and I love it. Keep up the good work I’m sooooo…..proud of you CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU ON LAW AND ORDER AGAIN!

  6. Marlén Landin says:

    Awesome!! Are you for hire?? My Son’s B-day is in November. 😉

  7. Ben Estrella says:

    great blog.

    If you had been my Agent I’d still be working…

  8. Amy says:

    love it, love the hat!!! love you! 🙂

  9. Tim says:

    Another well written and fun blog….Love the upgraded clown make-up. Just be careful about stealing snakes from a plane next time…they’re scary….:)

  10. Kami says:

    Ha ha! John, I think this is my favorite one, yet! What a storyteller you are! Love it! Remind me to ask you when I see you what show that was. I have a couple of guesses. Keep ’em comin’!

  11. Carol Schneider says:

    just watched this finally! oh my g, this is screamingly hilarious. i luv it! you look so cute, with the dancing, the umbrella, etc. very funny!!!!

  12. Ann Peck McBride says:

    Nice touch with the parasol in the air while you’re dancing!

  13. Marion Kalmus says:

    Your clown clip is great! You look fabulous.

  14. Andy Estrella says:

    You’ve done it again

  15. wolfie says:


  16. Ben Estrella says:

    Saw u!. U do a great clown!

    Mister Big Top

  17. Bonnie Wright says:

    You look darling, darling.

  18. Billy says:

    Very nice! Got a good laugh our of that one

  19. Tracey E says:

    Awesome, John! You looked great.

  20. Cory says:

    congratulations my dear!! so happy to see that you are doing your thing. you are missed!

  21. Cory says:

    I’ll be sending over a velvet-lined shadow box for the inevitable Emmy.

  22. Laurie says:

    You look adorable!!!!

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