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Beginners learn the basics at Calgary Clown Festival: ‘Childlike innocence and silliness’

WATCH: There are some pretty wild training going on in Calgary this week. As Gil Tucker shows us, an instructor has come all the way from London to teach his students the joys of getting things wrong.

Some people who are pretty serious about getting laughs are gathering in Calgary this week, attending the first-ever Calgary Clown Festival.

The event features several shows by seasoned clown performers like Mump and Smoot, as well as training sessions for people who want to get into clowning.

Those sessions include people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

READ MORE: Giggles, M.D.: the life of a medical clown

“I was a fitness instructor and an ESL teacher,” Jo-Ann Buhler-Low said.

“My background was actually in marketing,” Abagail Vanmerlin said.

“I’m currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces,” Andrea Greening said.

All of them came to the training with one main goal — “To make people laugh,” Buhler-Low said.

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Instructor Jon Davison is a veteran clown from the U.K., visiting Calgary during a break from his regular routine running his London Clown School.

READ MORE: Meet New Brunswick’s family of clowns

Davison said clowns should always keep the basics of the business in mind while they’re performing.

“(A clown is) someone who says I’m the idiot. I’m the stupid one. I’m the one who gets things wrong” Davison said. “I’m happy to be laughed at – that’s my profession!”

The students find that clowning helps them rediscover parts of themselves.

“There’s a real sense of freedom,” Vanmerlin said. “Being able to connect with a part of what people forget – their own childlike innocence and silliness.”

Davison said the clowns-in-training will be able to use their new skills to entertain all kinds of audiences.

READ MORE: Do clowns creep you out? 6 reasons why, according to experts

“You can use it for adults, kids, mixed family audiences,” he said. “Hospital clowns, street clowns – theatre, if you want to make your own show.”

The Calgary Clown Society and the Pumphouse Theatre teamed up to organize the festival, which runs from Wednesday to Saturday at the Pumphouse Theatre.

The participants hope it’s the first of many clown festivals to come in the city.

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“We’re starting to see clowning start to come to life in Calgary,” Vanmerlin said.

More information on the festival is available at http://pumphousetheatre.ca/calgary-clown-festival/