I am currently writing a series of posts to my blog, www.LloydBrant.com, that tells the history of our EMERGENCY CLOWN NOSE®, as well as exploring the hopes and dreams for the future of our new venture, EMERGENCY RED NOSE® Productions in 2016.
This photo captures my very first Medicine Show. It was taken in 2011 on the first day of Occupy MN. I was nervously walking around the encampment clutching my Emergency Clown Nose® pitchman’s case looking for a place to set-up my new experimental show, when I ran into Sandy Spieler, the artistic director of the activist theater Heart of the Beast. Sandy immediately pulled me over to the Teach-In Booth and insisted that I try out the show that minute. After watching my clumsy first attempt, Sandy played the role of impromptu director giving me valuable pointers right there on the spot. The rest of the that weekend I spent performing and polishing my the show. The twist to my Medicine Show is instead of selling snake oil, my pitch is the Emergency Clown Nose.
At Occupy I started the show by gathering a circle of protesters and handing them each an Emergency Clown Nose. Then my opening line was, “Mark Twain said, Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” I attempt to arm everybody in the encampment with an Emergency Clown Nose by giving away about 400-noses that weekend. I told all the participants to keep it sealed and hidden in their pockets. My instructions were to only take it out, break the seal, and put it on if, (and only if), the police were threatening to use violence.
My history of non-violent protest goes back to the Vietnam War era. During that time I was enrolled at St Paul Open School. We were pioneers in the Freedom School movement sparked by 1960s. On National Walk Out Day to protest the Vietnam War all of us at St Paul Open School “Walked In,” and invited Minnesota 60s peace activist icon Marv Davidov. He spoke to us about his Honeywell Project, that exposed the Honeywell Corporation’s war profiteering from the manufacture of cluster bombs, and guidance systems for nuclear missiles.
In 2008, when the Republican National Convention came to St Paul I dressed up in a giant Dick Chaney body puppet. I was wearing prison stripes, and walking in a chain gang with George W. Bush, and Condoleezza Rice. I remember noticing the only types of events received news coverage that summer, were all the violent protests, and the non-violent comic protest of our chain gang.
John Lennon said, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. [….] Because once they have you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”