Clowns haven’t always been funny of late. Stephen King’s clown flick It might be getting a big money remake but is short on laughs, and a recent internet trend saw loners and misfits using the costume to terrorise pensioners and children worldwide. However, the funny clown is very much still alive and well, not just in politics but in comedy too.
The world-renowned Ecole Philippe Gaulier (where Sacha Baron Cohen studied and developed Borat) is the Oxford University for clowns. Graduates Marga Villalonga and Ross Spaine make their Edinburgh Fringe debut with their show El Tradition, which is worthy of first-class honours with distinction.
The show is set in a fictional town and we join locals on the most anticipated night of the year, el Tradition. Throughout the show, we are treated to a bazaar of weird and wonderful traditions such as spandex wrestling, a cockfight with a sarcastic compere, and the sacrificing of a virgin with some awkward crowd interaction. The show consistently hits high notes through a smooth mix of slapstick silliness and good old fashioned laughs.
Why do we follow traditions? We don’t know. But we do it anyway… because it’s tradition. This is a line that is used as a device to carry the narrative of the show. Spaine and Villalonga do this well with props, voice overs and costumes and their strong chemistry is evident as they command the area (no stage) with a confidence that arrests and interests. Moreover, Villalonga’s exaggerated Spanish accent when introducing segments (sorry if it wasn’t exaggerated) and Spaine’s sharp timing add icing to what is a big, tasty yet ridiculous cake.
Maybe old killer clowns are not your thing, but it is worth checking out El Tradition if you just want a good laugh and learn that not all clowns are evil.