Clowning and Contradicting emotions – An Valenteyn

An Valenteyn has worked for Cliniclowns Belgium for fourteen years now, coaches new cliniclowns, has done theatre work in which clowning plays an important role and will soon be starting to teach together with Maria Cavarretta.

When I saw this video on the ‘health care virtual clowns’ facebook page it deeply touched me and it made me laugh at the same time. The group was founded by Patrick van den Boom during the confinement to make it possible for clowns to share their work and to reach each other. At that time I actually felt quite disorientated and overwhelmed. ‘Everyone’ seemed to be saying, like always, that ‘we have to make the best of this’ and it only made me feel resistant and cut off. But the clown video’s in this group started showing me a way out, a way towards connection and acceptation. However, the video that really did the job, was An’s video. Her video showed in such a simple, liberating way what our shared reality had suddenly become. She sings about having to stay at home, about practicing her eyelids movements today and not knowing yet what she’ll do tomorrow. The idea of exercising your eyelids all day long was so beautifully absurd, funny and simple that it helped me to breathe again. The idea of ‘making the best of the situation’ became a bit absurd and therewith I suddenly felt that a part of me was also curious and wanted to find out about this new situation too.

I think it is because she is not in any way telling me what to do, she’s just showing me herself giving it an honest try, with the whole mixture of feelings, the insecurity and the enjoyment about new possibilities at the same time. I think this is a very special gift of An, to be able to show different and even contradicting emotions at the same time. As it often is like this. So often when performing, to me it seems like I have to choose one of the emotions that are there and neglect all the other emotions that I’m also having. But what I could relate to at that moment, was exactly that mixture of contradicting emotions.

It reminds me of Karl Valentin’s saying:

There are three sides of everything

a positive
a negative

and a funny side

For me, personally it’s never the positive or the negative side of something that helps me embrace it, it’s always its funny side. There are times though that it needs someone very sensitive to show me that funny side, someone like An.