Charlie The Juggling Clown
Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime
Clowning in Discover Stars on Ice
By Bruce “Charlie” Johnson
The 1998-1999 American tour of Discover Stars On Ice featured a return to the tradition of clowning on ice.
Steven Cousins, wearing white overalls, portrays a comedy janitor throughout the show. He starts with an audience warm up before the show actually begins, and reappears between many of the numbers. In one scene he refuses to leave the ice, so one of the other skaters brings out a vaudeville hook to pull him off. The hook snags his overalls which break away leaving him in comedy underwear. He tries to cover himself up, and then quickly leaves the ice.
In one scene he has a spray bottle and rag. He stands in one corner of the ice, acting like he is cleaning a window. He squirts water from the bottle so that some of the spray drifts onto audience members. He apologizes to them, and moves further onto the ice. He sprays water again, and a cracking noise is heard. A large jagged line representing a crack is projected onto the ice near the other end of the arena. He gets a bucket of slush to fill in the crack. Then Tara Lipinski brings him a giant carpenter’s level to check that the ice is smooth.
Suddenly Kristi Yamaguchi appears in a clown fat suit and the music begins. This begins a twelve-minute long production number featuring the entire fourteen-member cast in a clown act choreographed by Olympic Gold Medal ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and directed by Sandra Bezic.
The majority of the cast then joins Kristi on the ice. They don't wear any make up, just a sponge ball nose. Their costumes, designed by Jeff Billings, use a lot of black and white checked material, or black plaids. They each wear a coat or vest that is red, blue, or yellow trimmed in primary colors. Their costumes all incorporate patches in some way. They all wear white dickies, and wigs. Most of the cast also wear a hat.
The cast spreads out around the perimeter in duos or trios performing comedy bits. Russian pair skaters Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov do a mouth coil routine. Most of the others do some type of physical comedy.
Then Scott Hamilton bursts through the entrance blowing a whistle. He is dressed in black plaid pants, long red coat with a sunflower on the lapel, red wig, red nose, and yellow bowler hat. The rest of the cast begin to minimize their actions so the focus goes entirely to Scott. (The entire production number is an outstanding example of controlling focus.) Scott races across the ice, trips, stumbles a few more feet, and then falls down.
Lipinski enters. She is dressed
identically to Scott except she doesn't have
a red nose. She isn't a clown yet,
but wants to be one. She imitates
Scott hoping that will make her a
clown. Scott gets up, and skates toward one side
of the ice.
Scott is the boss clown. He blows his whistle and all the other clowns form a line behind him. They skate along flapping their arms in unison with their feet apart. Then Scott leans backwards until he is laying on the lap of the skater behind him. That skater. leans back onto the lap of the person behind him. This continues until every person, except for the last one, is laying on the skater behind them. The last skater stands up supporting the entire line. Then Scott slides down so he is laying on the ice. The entire line of clowns pass over him.
Scott gets up, blows his whistle, and the
clowns line up behind him again with their hands
on the waist of the person in front of them.
Scott blows his whistle, and the clowns break
up into little groups. Scott skates along one edge
the ice, and his sunflower begins squirting
water. Scott returns to the center of the ice,
jumps over one clown laying on the ice, ducks
under Kristi being lifted by her feet and
shoulders, and is caught by two male clowns who flip him up
and over. Then he goes down to one knee and
opens his arms wide as the music ends.
The other clowns skate to the edge of the ice, stepping off onto the rubber leaving Scott and Tara on the ice alone.
Scott stands up, turns around, sees
They glide towards each other, breathe on the
"mirror" and wipe it off. They back up, and then
skate in a large circle
inspecting each other. • They
Scott scratches his head with his right
Scott takes off his hat, and sweeps it around
in a large circle at arms length.
Scott gives a little shout of delight and skates off.
The other clowns, returning to the ice, form a
line. One by one Scott starts them spinning. He
blows his whistle commanding them to keep
spinning. He lounges on the ice, lazily tooting his
The clowns gather around Scott, as he
produces silks tied in a line.
The clowns turn their attention to her, moving
slowly in unison as they watch. Realizing what
they have done by rejecting her, they begin to cry.
Kristi leaves the group, takes a heart off her
costume, and attaches it to
A drum cadence begins as
Putting their scarfs away, the clowns move into a square formation. They begin doing dance steps in unison. Maintaining their unison, they all stumble over something, turn around, find it, toss it over their shoulder, turn back around, stumble over it a second time, and kick it out of the way.
They resume their dance until they almost run into the edge of the ice.
Splitting up into small groups, the others form
pyramids while Scott and Tara skate off together.
When they are near the edge of the ice, Scott's
flower squirts audience members again.
Gathering speed they start down the center of the
They get up from their position, and each pick up a bucket. All the clowns, except Steven Cousins, gather around them as they skate to one of the ends of the ice. When Scott tosses the contents of his bucket at the audience, mylar streamers attached to the bucket come out. The clowns turn around and skate toward Steven. Tara and Scott are each holding the remaining bucket with one hand. Steven dares them to throw its contents at him. When they do, streamers come out. Steven gestures derisively with his arm. He skates a little further down the ice, turns to face the clowns, sticks out his tongue, and waves his hands. Suddenly a lot of water from an overhead dump tank falls on him.
Steven exits while the clowns line up for a bow, and go back to doing a dance step. He returns driving a miniature Zamboni with a sign identifying it as a Zamaguchi. (Kristi's last name is Yamaguchi.) Steven chases the clowns off the ice, does a victory spin, and drives off ending the clown act and the first half of the show.
The mechanical movements and those done in unison by the Discover Stars on Ice cast are an example of Henri Bergson’s theory that comedy is “something mechanical encrusted upon the living.”
(Originally published in The Clown In Times Volume Five Issue 3 Spring 1999. Copyright 1999 by Bruce “Charlie” Johnson. All rights reserved.)