362: “Clowns Need Problems” (Mario Lopez)

                “I love clowning. I love to—to—to do stupid things. And clowns need problems to live, so I love to be like, ‘Oh hey!’”
                -Mario Lopez, a magician on Penn & Teller: Fool Us

                I spent a lot of today making ‘obstacles’ with my two nieces. It started with little balance beams and towers for our ‘finger people’ to climb, and we took turns jumping a hand from block to block. Then one of them wanted an obstacle she could do. So we started crawling under things and balancing on things and laughing. We put all the chairs from the dining room into a line and tried to crawl under them. We built little block towers on each seat so we’d know if we bumped a chair. We stacked blocks with our toes. It was silly, challenging, delightful. I’ve done a very, very little bit of clowning in a theater class. It was so much fun. One question led to another, one problem to another, and the whole thing spiraled out—a something we were sharing. 
                Sometimes a day starts to feel like one problem after another, one distraction after another, one thing I messed up after another. It feels like Mario Lopez clowning around on stage, trying to stop the salt that’s magically pouring from his hands, his clothes, his feet. But look at his face. He’s laughing, awkward and sheepish and here with us. Scrunched between the chair’s legs and the carpet, blocks clattering down because I’d bumped the chair, I was having a wonderful time. Sometimes when I feel like I keep messing up, I start trying to arrange everything so I won’t run into any problems. But—well, clowns need problems to live. 
                My nieces and I push the couch so it makes a tight corner with the wall, and they go motoring through. I start after them. The corner’s going to be hard, of course, and that’s wonderful.

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