Saturday, March 3, 2007

Professor Snip the Clown

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Paul Dymoke: clowning around


Paul Dymoke didn’t have to come to Gallaudet. He was making a good living working as a barber in Minnesota. But after 13 years in the trade he decided to come to Gallaudet to pursue his other major interest—clowning.

On weekends, Dymoke performs as Fumble the Clown. "I want to pass on all I’ve learned about being a clown to others," the theatre arts major said. "I want to become a clown teacher, right here at Gallaudet."

Before coming to Gallaudet, Dymoke, who is self-taught, tried out for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. "I made it through the first cut of 300, out of 5,000 hopefuls, before I was cut," he said. "I want to try again."

The clowning business is good these days for Dymoke. "In Minnesota, I might do a show or birthday party once a month, but in the Washington, D.C., area, with its large deaf population, I frequently do two or three shows every weekend."

But being a clown can create some awkward situations, according to Dymoke. Like the time he slid on some ice last winter driving to a birthday party in Virginia and caused a fender-bender involving two other cars. "The people got out of their cars, and I could see the look on their faces, and they said, `Oh look! A clown hit us!’"

Or the time when he was conducting a workshop for children in Minnesota. "One of the six-year- olds in my class was Jewish, and he went home and excitedly told his grandmother about Putz the Clown! But his grandmother was furious! Later, I found out that Putz in Yiddish means (male organ that begins with P), and I was so embarrassed!" He then changed his name to Fumble the Clown.

Without his make-up and wig on, Dymoke uses his kid skills when he cuts their hair. He has giant clown scissors and combs at his workstation at the Mastercuts in Frederick, Md., which the kids play with while he cuts their hair.

But Dymoke, who also is licensed to do perms, coloring, and highlighting, would like to relocate his business. He would like to set up a barber and beauty shop on campus.