A Horrible Mixup in Hong Kong

I performed as a professional clown for 25 years at the height of clown popularity, way back in the caveman days before people started calling clowns “creepy” and associating them with Pennywise from “It”. My character Yummy the clown had a big following as well as a T-shirts and a website with a funny bio.

Yummy the Clown
Photo: Mark Katz

A lot of Yummy’s fans would visit the website and I’d get a few letters from kids or parents who wanted to book my show or just connect with a clown . While answering my emails one day, I noticed a message from a woman asking me a lot of questions about Yummy. She was with a clown organization based in Hong Kong. It was an amazing coincidence since I was going to be traveling there the following week. We chatted a bit and I told her that I would be in her country and maybe we could get together. She seemed to be excited about hanging out with an American clown and maybe getting a few of her friends together. We talked about a possible day and place and then I promptly forgot about it.

The next week we arrived in Hong Kong. Four of us were traveling together filming a travel show about Hong Kong. Our video was about bringing in the Chinese New Year and we were running around the town shooting B-roll and eating whatever Cantonese food we could get our hands on. We filled up and went back to the hotel to sleep off our jet lag when the phone rang. It was the woman I had corresponded with and she was wondering why we weren’t at the rendezvous point. I realized that I had made a terrible mistake by not remembering, so I assured her that we were on our way. We grabbed a taxi and met her at the address she’d given me. Maybe we could just hang out for a few minutes and then excuse ourselves.

We soon realized that this was not going to be the case. The entire restaurant had been rented out by her organization and they were throwing a party for me. I don’t understand Asian culture always but I  know that it’s very easy to offend the Chinese if you don’t follow the rules. We were led to a table and asked to sit down. Meanwhile the other guests wanted to take pictures and ask us questions about clowning in the US.

Course after course of Cantonese food started arriving to the table. I was already bursting before I sat down and didn’t know how I’d be able to eat anything. I put some stuff on my plate and tried to fake my pleasure at the miraculous spread put before me. The dishes kept coming and I couldn’t help wonder if they did this for every out of town guest. Seriously, it was like I was George Clooney or something. Could these people be so  fascinated with American clowns?

My host sat down and started questioning me about my life in the circus. I explained that I had never worked for the circus. She looked surprised. She asked me about my father and mother and if they were still with the circus. What? Why would she think my parents belonged in the circus? Suddenly I realized why this crazy evening was happening. The mystery was solved. My host had read Yummy the Clown’s biography on the web and assumed it was real. Anyone who spoke English as a first language would have realized it was a goofy bit of comedy, but to a group of Chinese entertainers, they believed every word of it and that is why I was their celebrity for the evening. They had thrown a party for a fictional character and it was time to leave. We politely gathered our belongings, thanked everyone and got out of there. Once I got to the hotel, I pulled the clown bio up to have a look at it. This is how it read:

“Yummy was born a long time ago, no one is exactly sure when. Some people say that the only true way to know Yummy’s age is to count the stripes on his socks. Others have been quoted as saying “Who Cares?” His father Yo Yo and his mother Dummy the Clown decided to put their names together to get the name Yummy. It was much better than the alternative….. Do Do.

Yummy grew up in the circus and spent a great deal of time learning about life from his grandfather “Gummy”. He learned how to juggle books, balance all kinds of things (except his diet) and how to walk a crooked line. He lived in a tent, played in a tent, worked in a tent. His whole life has been in-tents.

After graduating from Clown school he went on to get his MPT (Masters of Pie Throwing) and joined a small Fraternity I ETA PI. He had mostly B’s in his report card, but didn’t mind because he used the honey that they made on his peanut butter sandwiches. He met Kerry the Clown and decided to send her squirting flowers the very next day. The two have been seen going to different movies together on completely different days.

These days Yummy practices getting in small cars with his friends, doing summer jokes (summer funny, some aren’t), and enjoys playing giraffe twister while the giraffes are sleeping.”

Me, Jeffrey Gardner and AJ LaHaye in “Yummy’s Circus Tent”

So that was it. I was famous for a couple hours in China. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

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