The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Baileys Ambassadors of Laughter posing with the Black Hills State University Summer Stage actors and Summer Stage youth troupe.
The Ambassadors of Laughter for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, a husband and wife duo, visited the Black Hills State University campus last week to give Summer Stage actors some pointers on everything from how to nonverbally express emotions to the art of a good “trip.”

The two clowns from the company’s community outreach program travel around the United States, visiting local schools, hospitals and libraries sharing their comedic, interactive style.  Aside from the workshop, the Ambassadors of Laughter also performed a part of their own act.

The clowns worked with the Summer Stage actors, including the community children who annually participate, on using their whole bodies to express emotions rather than just using words. They also demonstrated the art of a good “trip,” the technique behind a “double take,” and explained in detail the comedic “rule of three” – a principle that suggests things that come in threes are inherently funnier.
Summer Stage youth troupe member Brayden Cathcart clowning around with The Ringling Bros. and Barnum Baileys Ambassadors of Laughter.

According to BHSU Summer Stage actress Melissa Barnard, speech communication major from Rapid City, everyone learned something valuable from the workshop. “It was more geared toward the adults, but the kids definitely did really well,” she says.

The clowns watched the actors work with the concepts and then gave feedback on their demonstrations. They also performed a portion of their own act, which included music, audience participation, and some juggling. Finally, the actors were given the opportunity to pick their own nose, a big red clown nose.

The Summer Stage actors will be putting their skills to work during their final show of the summer, Lie, Cheat, and Genuflect, a comedy by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Millmore. They will be performing tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All performances will be in the Pangburn Hall Theatre, reservations are recommended. To make reservations or learn more about the Summer Stage visit www.BHSU.edu/Theatre, call 605.642.6171, or email Summer.Stage@BHSU.edu. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $9 for students, and $6 for ages 17 and under.