Expect The Unexpected...
It was a beautiful day in the month of February. The weather was unseasonably warm which allowed for many an outdoor party. One of my parties on this day was held in a park and the children and some small dogs were having a great time playing in the midday sun. The party was in full swing and the children came running to greet me from the playground when I arrived.
I gathered the party guests around and began my show. The children and their parents were all laughing and having a great time as I performed. At times I, as well as some of the guests paused to watch the frolicking of 2 small Chihuahuas that belonged to guests of the party. There was also another larger dog of no particular breed being held on a leash by another guest. Midway through the party the larger dog lunged at one of the Chihuahuas knocking it to the ground. Instantly the small dog, lying on its back, began kicking its legs in the air. The party stood, transfixed watching to see if the dog would snap out of it, jump up and run off playing again. But it did not.
The owner jumped up and scooped up the dog and headed towards her vehicle but it was already too late. In an instant the little dog was gone.
Stunned, the party guests and I tried to understand what had just happened. As we watched, half the party left with the bereaved owner and I was not sure if they wanted me to continue with the show or not.
My question was answered when one of the guests said sardonically,
“Well clown, make them laugh!”
I halfheartedly continued making balloons and writing names but the wind was gone from my sails. I felt so bad for the owner and her little dog. I felt bad for the birthday girl whose birthday party was now marred by this event. I also felt bad that I did not have a better response for what had happened.
If the hosts request that you continue, by all means do so if you are able to. I happen to have a Chihuahua of my own I thought of her, and how quickly the life was gone from the dog at the party. But when the host said to continue I knew I must shake my own feelings off and put on my best clown smile to continue.
Since that day I have given thought to what I might have done differently to make the event less traumatic for the birthday child and her guests.
It is very important to remember is to try and stay in character as much as possible. I do not mean to joke about it or make light of the situation. If the children or other guests are asking questions gently hand off the task of passing on delicate information to the parents or to the host. You may not have accurate enough information to give to them and it is not really your place to do this anyway.
My character would say, "I am not really sure what has happened but you can ask so and so's Mom or Dad to find out."
And when asked to continue the show regardless...
“Goodness I am sad that happened. I am so glad that we are together!