Well, I had hoped to live blog Randy’s keynote “The Influence of Characters in our Lives”, but I couldn’t get internet access. Apparently someone decided tonight from 5-8 would be a good time to do maintenance on the system. Sigh. All is well now, though, which bodes well for tomorrow’s sessions. Randy is a wonderful performer, and a live-blog is definitely not the best way to communicate the message of his presentation. Anyone who has taught at a clown school and founded the “Maine Hysterical Society” definitely uses the visual and audio aspects of performance to optimal communicative ends. However, below is what I did take down (when I wasn’t laughing too hard to type).
Randy is a very funny man. He began with a sketch where he became a high school kid who has to do a reading of “Casey at the Bat” in character, the result of which is the kids in class suddenly interact with him in a positive way and the teacher asks him to audition for the school musical. Turns out it’s a real story – even autobiographical. Randy was one of seven, from a small town, who was the only one to go to college, ended up teaching math and then clown college and leads a life performing – thanks the influence of that particular teacher. Randy wanted to be like this teacher, who really helped him go to college, in fact wrote to a friend at the pentagon who came up with a 20% scholarship for his first two years at college.
Think for a moment about the people in your life who connected with you. Who are the people in your lives? (doing a water ‘magic’ trick / joke) Lots of audience members mentioning people in their lives – teachers, others such as a plumber, the drivers ed teacher, school librarian, parents. The illusion of the never ending water coming out of the vase represents how the influence never ends of the people in the lives of young people. It’s what teachers do every day, being a mentor, an influence on the students you come in contact with. Take the information, the feeling you have for that mentor in your life, and connect with that person and tell them that they made a difference, tell them the story, and they will be moved by that.
Randy had this math teacher and he crafted this character based on him and a few other math teachers he’s had over the years. Randy dons jacket and glasses . . . . Math-Magics. . . magic trick with rope. What happens to us when we laugh, physiologically. New character – Kinesthetic crossover : Brain Gym : Advocate of physical education . Dons duck billed hat and a “Get Physical” sweatshirt. What a great downeast accent. Then he takes the crowd through a participatory fun activity.
When Randy taught at Ringling, 48 clowns at Ringling Bros college . . 40 men, 8 women. Randy never went on the circus . . . good way to show the students they could do this on their own, not just in the context of the circus. Then he told a story about teaching them to juggle and eat an apple as they juggled. You’ll have to hear the story from Randy, but the point was the creativity of youth in terms of how they approach problems from various angles – some of which are unexpected and wonderful.
That’s it for my notes on the keynote. Hopefully I’ll live blog the first session tomorrow – 8:30 – 11:30. I’ll bet some of it will be hands on, so no guarantees on three hours of typing. Look for other posts and streams from the Institute!