'We believe in our blessings' - Clowns overcome societal stereotypes

Ditching the diploma for red noses

16 Mar 2024 02:03pm
The journey of Muhammad Al-Hazim Ahmad, 32, his wife, Nor Farah Hanim Samsol Bahrin, 30, and her sister, Nor Aina Natasya Samsol Bahrin, 27 goes beyond just donning clown costumes; they've honed magic tricks and delved into the art of embodying clown characters. - Photo by Bernama
The journey of Muhammad Al-Hazim Ahmad, 32, his wife, Nor Farah Hanim Samsol Bahrin, 30, and her sister, Nor Aina Natasya Samsol Bahrin, 27 goes beyond just donning clown costumes; they've honed magic tricks and delved into the art of embodying clown characters. - Photo by Bernama
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LUMUT - Unfazed by any sense of self-consciousness, a fearless couple has wholeheartedly embraced the unconventional profession of clowning, enthralling the community with magic tricks and selling balloons for the past nine years.

The journey of Muhammad Al-Hazim Ahmad, 32, his wife, Nor Farah Hanim Samsol Bahrin, 30, and her sister, Nor Aina Natasya Samsol Bahrin, 27 goes beyond just donning clown costumes; they've honed magic tricks and delved into the art of embodying clown characters.

Muhammad Al-Hazim, affectionately known as Jiji, shared that it took him about two years to master specific skills, including clown vocalisation and magic tricks, to give their career a unique touch of professionalism.

"Not everyone can transform their voice into that of a clown; sometimes, even years of training don't yield results because everyone has their limitations," he explained during a recent interview.

Hailing from Sitiawan, he pointed out that the investment in clown accessories and costumes is significant, yet, driven by passion and a dedication to excellence, their monthly income, ranging from RM1,500 to RM3,000, proves ample for supporting their family.

"Clown noses alone cost from RM120 to RM150, depending on the type. As for clown shoes, they can reach up to RM3,000, depending on the type and country of production," said Muhammad Al-Hazim, an electrical and electronic engineering diploma holder.

The father of a seven-year-old daughter also highlighted that a career as a clown comes with certain taboos that must be observed to preserve the profession's image.

"Among them, do not squeeze the nose and do not step on clown shoes, as both are part of the clown's identity. We should not be belittled by the audience as well because some children see us as heroes," he added, emphasising that they never take the societal stigma attached to their profession lightly.

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Muhammad Al-Hazim acknowledged that there is a portion of society that regards the profession with a stigma, however, he is confident that it does not pose an issue as long as the income is earned through lawful means.

He firmly believes that sustenance does not come without effort, and the doors of sustenance are always open as long as it is not prohibited by law or religion.

"If someone criticises our profession, we'll just smile without reacting because we have to believe in our blessings. As long as we have passion, the job is halal, and we're not seeking charity. So I don't have a problem continuing this career," he said.

Meanwhile, Nor Farah Hanim mentioned that clowns portray various characters, but among the popular ones in Malaysia are Full Face, Auguste, and Hobo.

Fondly known as Rara, she explained that they often opt for Auguste as it appears more cheerful and approachable, especially for children, compared to other characters.

"We frequently dress up as the Auguste character because it's easier to engage the audience. Sometimes, we also wear different outfits such as uniforms, based on the customer's preferences," she added.

Nor Farah Hanim shared that they spend a significant amount of time learning the art of clowning through Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.

According to her, currently, they are active mainly at Aeon shopping centres around Perak selling balloons during the weekends, while Muhammad Al-Hazim goes solo on weekdays, responding to invitations from schools or event organisers.

Reflecting on how clowning became their career, Nor Farah Hanim shared that it all began when she and Muhammad Al-Hazim sold balloons for an education consulting company in 2015.

"Back then, selling balloons seemed like a lucrative venture. We decided to quit our jobs and focus solely on selling balloons. Initially, we sold them in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, then moved to the night market in Manjung," she explained.

"Coincidentally, the Aeon Manjung manager noticed our work at the night market and offered us the opportunity to set up at the department store, a partnership that continues to this day. From there, we started learning the ropes of becoming authentic clowns," she added.

For Nor Aina Natasya, whose nickname is Chacha, her involvement began in 2017, with the initial intention to help her sister and brother-in-law, but then she gradually developed an interest in clowning and continues to assist them, in addition to working as a part-time model.

Those interested in their services can contact them through their social media platforms on Facebook and TikTok, where they go by the names Ajim Sajea and TikTok @fararosham. - BERNAMA