Ringling clown Andrew Hicks has been performing with the circus for four years. The Goldsboro, N.C., native said his work with the circus has been a dream come true. Hicks got hooked as a child by reading a clown college handbook. He started learning how to juggle, ride a unicycle and perform in front of an audience.
Hicks jumped at the chance to audition, and has working ever since.
With the Ringling Gold Unit, Hicks is on the road 11 months out of the year. He’s one of three clowns in the unit, and he interacts closely with the audience. He and his clown colleagues weave a narrative that is an integral part of the show, rather than just filler for transitions between acts.
“This is more storyline driven, but I don’t like to be the focus. I like to be one of the characters that you just notice is being funny,” Hicks said.
Just before coming to Asheville, several performers in a Ringling unit in Rhode Island were injured in an accident. Hicks, who said he rappels from ceiling rigging in his show, said safety is of the utmost concern. “I and all the performers feel safe,” he said, adding that his thoughts were with the injured performers.
As he donned his own style of clown make-up, Hicks ticked off some of the tools of the clowning trade: the right kind of grease-based make-up that is water resistant; his specially made clown nose; and a steamer trunk which he lives out of while on the road.
“The steamer trunk is sort of an old-school tradition. Some are passed down. Sometimes we go steamer trunk shopping. You’re looking something with the right mix of storage” for clothes and costumes, Hicks said. He added that he acquired his trunk from a retiring Ringling clown.
Hicks said he enjoys the close audience interaction that Ringling clowns see in today’s shows. When asked if he were planning for something beyond the circus, Hicks said he had no plans beyond his current gig.