Rodeo Clown’s Often Face Danger While In The Arena
The Rodeo Clown Reunion honors those characters that have spent their time in the rodeo arena fighting bulls and entertaining the crowd with their acts and humor. But the profession does have the problem of physical injuries. Many of these seniors sustained broken bones and wrecks you would not believe. When interviewing these former rodeo performers it is natural to ask if they ever incurred any serious injuries. Their answer is always, “No, I never did.” But in reality most have had more disastrous mishaps than you can count.
Just think for a bit, about the bullfighter trying to keep the bull rider from getting hurt so the rider can reach the fence or get out of harms way. The bullfighter actually puts his body in front of a bull to keep the bull rider safe. Some bulls weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. Being run over by 2,000 pounds can’t happen without an injury or two. It may be a broken bone, a horn that can rip the skin or getting stomped on or even worse. These brave souls have all suffered some kind of injury and lots of aches or pains. But they still had to work, even if they were hurting. They only got paid when they work.
One bullfighter had the reputation of always jumping a bull during each performance. At one performance as he jumped over the bull’s head, the bull raised his head, at a very inopportune time. His horn scraped the clown, between his legs, as he sailed past the bull’s head. The bullfighter’s adrenalin was running so high he really didn’t realize what had happened. When he finished the rodeo he went to the rodeo clown dressing room and while taking off his makeup, he got up out of a plastic chair he was sitting in, and it was full of blood! The bull’s horn had done more damage than he realized. His buddy rushed the bullfighter to the hospital where four dozen stitches were required - in a very sensitive area. The doctor sternly told him “No more bullfights until you heal”. Later that night the bullfighter’s friend snuck him out of the hospital and they went on down the rodeo road. Two weeks later he was at his next rodeo fighting bulls. However, he did not attempt to jump a bull for the next few rodeos.
It isn’t just the bullfighters that get injured. The laugh-getters often use gun powder or some other type of explosive for some of their acts. Once in a while the wrong amount is used, and the explosion they planned would be larger than they expected. One old rodeo clown had an explosion go off next to his leg. He spent many months having skin-grafts and recuperating. When he finally got back to work in the arena a reporter asked him if he was able to walk OK. His answer was, “I don’t know, I never walked too good before the explosion!” Of course he was being funny, but who knows?
The animals that rodeo clowns have used in their acts have ranged from donkeys, to dogs, to chickens. Buffalo, chimpanzees and even a lion were also used by a few brave souls. Early day rodeo clowns would stop at nothing to get a laugh out of their audience.
One creative thinker designed a washtub to sit in–atop a bronc. He sprinkled lots of talcum powder in the bottom of the tub, for effect. When the bronc was let out of the chute he bounced across the arena on top the bronc with powder flying all around. It was very effective and got lots of laughs from the audience. Once at the Fort Worth rodeo his bronc went to close to the box seats and sprinkled talcum powder all over the city dignitaries sitting there! The rodeo clown stayed so bruised and battered by the bouncing in the tub no one ever copied his act. These laugh-getters have got to be tough as nails!
There is a saying among all rodeo clowns, whether they are a bullfighter, barrelman or funnyman – “It isn’t a matter of are you going to get hurt, it’s when and how bad”.
Come to the Historic Stockyards in Fort Worth Rodeo Clown Reunion and meet these amazing, tough rodeo clowns of the past. It is held the last weekend in July – 27, 28 & 29. For more information contact Chairman Gail Woerner, at: 512-426-8668 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.stockyardsrodeo.com.