Growing up a class clown: The burdens of a professional circus performer

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  • Tim Torkildson Provo, UT
    June 27, 2014 3:14 p.m.

    All I can say is what Al Jolson said many years ago . . . "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

  • Strong Man Eau Claire, WI
    June 27, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    Great read! Very interesting personal interest story! Thanks!!

  • tlfreed1 Nyack, NY
    June 27, 2014 10:29 a.m.

    I've clowned with Tim in a long past life when we were young and relatively carefree. I laughed a lot at his antics and learned a lot from him about making others laugh. I've followed his exploits these many years.: the back and forth to Thailand, his times on the road with various circuses, his family life, his recent hiatus in the Washington, DC area and now, finally, back home.
    It is amazing to me that he has always seen his ups and down as just another part of his life, not imbuing it with a tragic air but, rather something to share with as many others as he could and in such a way as to put a smile on their faces.
    My prayers - and I am not a Mormon or a particularly religious man for that matter - are that Tim and his family continue to grow together, he continues to grow and shine in his faith and that he continues to make the word laugh in his own unique way.

  • StandUpNow orem, UT
    June 27, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    Being intimately familiar with the LDS Church in Thailand and the history of missionary work there, I am familiar with the clown act that was used during intermissions of the Latter-day Saint Singers that toured the country and even performed for the King of Thailand (I think). These missionary singers became well-known throughout the country and even released some cassette tapes. At the time, a foreigner speaking their language, and speaking it well was rare. Foreigners singing their folk songs in front of hundreds and thousands of people was even more rare. It was a outstanding public relations effort.

  • livininSandy Sandy, UT
    June 27, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    One Sunday morning in April 1975, I met a large group of new missionaries who had just arrived in Thailand. I asked the group - "Anyone want to go out to a street meeting with me?" They all looked to be in culture shock - which was normal for newly arrived missionaries. Tim was the only one who volunteered, so off we went. I soon learned he was a professional clown, so his experiences with people made it possible for him to ignore the culture shock and go meet people on the street. We had a fine morning meeting Thai people at Bangkok's large park known as Sanam Luang. Tim is an awesome writer and has many experiences to share.

  • WhitmoreM Woodbridge, VA
    June 27, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    I always enjoy hearing stories about Thailand, and your crazy childhood antics dad!

  • Tim Torkildson Provo, UT
    June 27, 2014 6:44 a.m.

    That was a good strategy, to have your disruptive student do a report on Clown College. Sadly, the Ringling Clown College is no more. They shut it down about fifteen years ago, because it was not generating as much publicity as it used to. The circus is all about publicity! I have to say that I didn't learn very much at Clown College itself; rather, once I got accepted into clown alley I chose certain veteran clowns as role models and learned directly from them todo things like play the musical saw and develop my pantomime skills. One of my most cherished teachers was Otto Greibling, who taught me the importance of developing a simple yet memorable clown character. He could make the audience laugh and cry at the same time.

    June 26, 2014 5:59 a.m.

    This article interests me in a couple of ways. First, the unique cultures where I served my mission required an unusual assignment that took me out of the direct proselyting experience for about half the time. So I appreciate Tim's time spent building the Church's reputation in Thailand. We are cautioned about light mindedness, but never required to totally remove humor, or any other good thing, from our lives. (Think 13th Article of Faith.) In fact, we seek after them.
    The article also reminds me of a similar experience to Tim's school days from the opposite point of view. I once had a student of the class-clown frame of mind pulling some of the things Tim said he did in school. So I assigned him to look up material on "Clown College" and write a report. Students in the class didn't believe there was such a college at first, but we all learned in the end that even a career in clowning requires professionalism--plus a lot of work learning what makes a good one. Even comedy has its learning curve!

  • Tim Torkildson Provo, UT
    June 25, 2014 8:19 p.m.

    My mission presidents were Pres Morris and Pres Harvey Brown; I was there 1974 to 1976.

  • Big Joe V Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    June 25, 2014 11:15 a.m.

    This article is a comfort and inspiration to all of us who have struggles and have lost.

  • ClarkeinAK Anchorage, AK
    June 25, 2014 1:32 a.m.

    I think my dad was his mission president - when did her serve in Thailand?