The Clown Without Paint
Inside the old showman there lives a rather insecure man, wrapped in a shallow coldness beneath a thick coating of charisma. Everyone who doesn’t know him loves him. That’s the thing about comedians. They are illusionists.
Command the audience, make love to their laughter, pretend that you’re the man that you will never be. Divert their gaze from the lonely hotel rooms, the hollow fear of irrelevancy, and the slow burn of self loathing. Make the girls laugh, and maybe they won’t notice how much you hate yourself.
I’ve seen it a thousand times, in every creased forehead, flick of a wrist or tired grin. The performance is exhausting. Someday the courtesans of fame will wake up and find the clown has gone, leaving a sad man riddled with vanity and anger. You’ll leave me in the neon light, and I’ll pretend I meant more than your ego injection of youth, admiration and innocence. I’ll feel your lips on my skin, tongue tying knots of words that breathe laughter into my nothingness. I’ll ache for the width of the maestro’s hands on my waist with a longing only your myth could sustain.
But soon the lights will dim and I will see your sad magician light a cigarette that reveals the flaws of a mortal. And you, lovers of the clown, will watch his slaughter on the alter of irrelevance.
He’ll say things about women or fascists that will slowly crack the facepaint, the drawn on smile. The balloons and confetti turn to racist tweets and outdated remarks on catcalling. You want to laugh, if only to keep him alive, but the audience is leaving. You are one of the last, hanging onto an illusion as real as the shadows on the wall. You should leave, the show is over, but you feel an allegiance to what has been. The glory days.
Someday, you too will be gone. His act will become too arrogant, too desperate, shrieking to a crumbling basement of coughing alcoholics. In the dark, you will see the man behind the act, no more Pan than a tired old man, knowing almost as well as you do that the grand finale was a decade ago.
You’ll be dropped too when you no longer keep up the flattery, the sweet nothings, the illusions of celebrity. Soon you will watch desperate men turn pleading to the those who still stand tall, framed in a sad foolishness that somehow there is more ahead. Then you will begin the pilgrimage away from celebrity, and arrive at your door an atheist to idols.
Leave, darling, and walk on. The theatre is just a room, a stage but a platform, a performer but a figure that fades, falls and crumbles. You’ll always ask yourself whether you loved the illusion, or the man.
But spare some pity for the clowns.