By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Harriet Rubin takes clowning around, seriously.
When she is in costume she is Florabelle and she is founder of Clowns on Call, a clown group, which is formally called alley, out of Boca Pointe.
“I have always been a volunteer clown” Rubin said.
It all started in 1993 when she was living in New Jersey. The speech language pathologist went to a clown group that would bring in a professional clown and teach people how to become a clown.
“I was hooked immediately,” she said. “I became very active in starting a clown group.”
She said she attended conferences to get more training. She picked her clowning name because she said she is very feminine and likes to wear flowers.
“I don’t juggle,” she said. “I am not a great face painter. I am not a great balloonist, but I am a great clown.”
She moved to Boca Pointe full time in 2008. She joined an alley in Delray, but said it wasn’t very active.
“I was going solo to events and walks,” she said. “I was getting lonely.”
So, she got permission from Boca Pointe to use a meeting room to hold clown classes. She said she identified a group of people she thought would make good clowns. The group has 11 clowns. She said it is the only alley she knows of in South Florida.
“Very few people come and say ‘I want to be a clown,’” she said. “I had to hand pick the people. They have taken to it fantastically. They are great at performing. They are good at faceprinting and balloons. I even have a juggler.”
She said the biggest misnomer about becoming a clown is that you have to be funny.
“You don’t have to be an outgoing, funny person to be a good clown,” she said. “Most of the world famous clowns are not funny. They don’t get up in a comedy club and perform. I am not funny. I am perfectly straight, yet I can be as silly as anybody when I am Florabelle.”
She said she puts on the make-up, clothes and shoes and her clown character comes out.
“It helps a lot of people who are not outgoing because it teaches them how to project their voices and how to use their voices and how to act,” she said. “To see people evolve into a clown persona, it’s really gratifying. We laugh at each other all the time.”
The alley can be found performing at nursing homes, children’s events and nonprofit fundraisers. They are on call for all events for free.
“There are tons of organizations we can contribute to,” she said. “We don’t charge. We are not scary clowns. We are happy, cute, friendly clowns. We interact. We are very visible.”
If you are interested in having Clowns on Call visit your event, email Harriet Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org