Clownland is a journey through an unusual country to discover what its extraordinary inhabitants have learnt about life, loss, and happiness.
Injured, and living on the edge of country town, Lanigan embarks on an unconventional, at moments disastrous, but ultimately inspiring guided tour of this strange land- Clownland.
This is not a text book. This is not an objective, academic look at an artform. This is not a book that will teach you how to become a clown - though it might help. This is a guided tour, a travelogue, through a part of the world - Clownland - where we meet those employed in studying the stupid, the ridiculous, the clumsy and deluded, both beautiful and ugly, to hold up a mirror up so that we can laugh at ourselves.
You don't need to love clowns to love this book.
Clownland is a sequel to Lanigan's 'A True History of the Hula Hoop' (Picador 2009)
'I found the main thing I noticed, being injured, living back in the 'real world’, was not just the laughter- clowns are very funny people to hang out with back stage- but more the philosophy, the attitudes to life, that made it such a rich and satisfying world to work in. I missed that. At first the book was almost just an excuse to be back in it in some form or other, until things started going wrong, and I had an opportunity to put the words into practise. Then I started to believe, really believe, that these practitioners of this odd art-form had through their examinaition of the stupidities of humanity found some secrets to happiness. So I left my own story in there, to show how it worked.
Ask your bookstore to order it in for you.
Lanigan says 'I spoke to about fifty of our great working clowns, in all corners of Clownland from the post modern to classical, to the naughty girls working in Burlesque like Christa Hughes and Imogen Kelly through to the great clown wranglers like Cal McCrystal ( the Mighty Boosh, Cirque du Soleil, the Dictator). I was searching for what they had learned about happiness, so I dont go into the detail of ‘process' very much. I accepted dares along the way to help me and the reader understand a bit more about clown, which adds a nice epic variable to the story arc through this process of meeting these extraordinary people in odd places, and putting the philosophy I collect into practise, as a test. The book ends up looking at the theory that the most enduring way to happiness is to know yourself. As ‘Struthie’ from the comedy rodeo clown troupe ‘The Crack Up Sisters’ says “ be honest with yourself in every conversation you have in your head”.
"A work of admirable daring and spirit" Fiona Capp The Age and Sydney Morning Herald 2016
"...Heartfelt, honest, funny, endearing, insightful and beautiful... this book pressed all my buttons and ticked all my boxes... easy to read and hard to put down" Shep Huntly, League of Sideshow Superstars,
"part travelogue, part plain language philosophy, set in a conceptual and real place called 'Clownland'” Antonella Casella , Circus Oz. "fascinating, thoughtful and moving” Suzanne Donisthorpe, Art Swank, Maine FM. And
“...that rare thing, a non-fiction novel of ideas that actually has a plot, and is completely readable whilst having a seriousness, depth and humour all its own ... Lanigan has captured lightning in a bottle... " Patrick Bath, Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association.