Charlie The Juggling Clown
Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime
By Bruce Johnson
Richard Snowberg began performing as a magician. He turned to clowning in 1975 creating Snowflake, his whiteface character. His wife Jan, and sons, David and Eric, were also involved in clown performances. They successfully performed at fairs, festivals, and corporate events.
Dr. Snowberg was an associate professor in Information Technology at the University of Wisconsin --La Crosse. (He retired in 2000.) He began teaching magic and clown classes through the college's evening continuing education program. This led to the creation of U-W Clown Camp© in 1981. Over the years this grew into the world's oldest and largest clown training program. The last traditional Clown Camp program was held in La Crosse, WI in June of 2009. One additional program was held in Singapore in 2010.
When Richard began clowning, there was little educational literature available so he began writing his own books for his classes. He has written Clowning For Children, Clowning Wherever We Can, Just For Laughs Clown Routines, The Clown in You - A Basic Textbook, and The Caring Clowns. The Caring Clowns was the first definitive text on clowning in hospitals which Richard makes his specialty.
Richard was the first education director of the World Clown Association, and held that office for several years. He eventually became President of the WCA in 1987. That year he was instrumental in starting the WCA Bo Dino Scholarship Program, which was the first scholarship available for studying clowing. Richard was the World Clown Association 2002-2003 President and the 2009-2010 WCA President. He is the only person to have served three separate terms as the WCA President. Jim Roberts is the only other person to serve as WCA President for more than one term.
Richard helped bridge the gap between American and European clowns by inviting European clowns to teach at the U-W Clown Camp©. In 2000, Clowns from Japan were added to the U-W Clown Camp Staff ©.
In 1989, he organized the World Clown Summit in Dalkeith, Scotland. At the Summit clowns from around the world gathered for a week of discussion and performance.
In 1991, Richard was the chairman of the World Clown Association Convention held in Bognoir Regis, England. This was the first convention by a major U.S. clown organization to be held outside of the continental United States.
In 1993, Richard was an American delegate to the World Clown Congress in Sweden.
Richard's commitment to international clown education has continued. In 2004 he organized a group of instructors from around the world to teach at the Clown Around the World Festival in Singapore, followed by a smaller group continuing on to teach classes in Malaysia. In 2005 Clown Camp held an overseas session in Achi, Japan. Staff and participants had the opportunity to perform during two days at the World Exposition in Nagoya. In 2010 the final session of Clown Camp (the 30th annual program) was held in Singapore. In 2013, Richard was the convention chair planning and overseeing the World Clown Association Convention in Borneo. This was the first WCA convention held in Asia.
Richard's contributions to clowning include being involved in the establishment of the Wishland Pony Express, a local wish granting organization for chronically and terminally ill youngsters in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The organization is supported by donations from clowns. He has been on the Wishland Pony Express board of directors from the beginning.
Richard has inspired many of today's clown leaders either directly or through the U-W Clown Camp ©. Many of his efforts are behind the scenes where few know of his direct involvement.
Richard is a 1999 Inductee into the International Clown Hall Of Fame. He was given the World Clown Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and the World Clown Association President's Humanitarian Award in 2013.
Copyright 1999 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson. All rights reserved. Updated August 2013.
Excerpted from The Clown In Times Volume Five Issue Four.