Sunday, November 6, 2011

Former Jesuit Clown, Now Just A Clown

Former Jesuit Priest Nick Weber
"To be a priest, you don't have to be a clown," says Nick Weber, 34, a Jesuit priest since 1970. Smearing on greasepaint, he adds: "To be a clown, you don't have to be a priest." Finally, putting his act and his faith together, Father Weber concludes: "But to be me, you have to be both priest and clown." And so, indeed, he is, the producer and principal attraction of the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter Ring Sidewalk Circus based in Santa Clara, Calif. From August through May every year, he and two student assistants take "the world's smallest circus" to more than 100 cities, traveling in a camper jammed with props, Jingles the poodle, an Asian pheasant, a fox from the Arctic Circle and Penelope, a spider monkey. The circus plays shopping centers, Indian reservations, even mental hospitals—where one patient was heard to yelp delightedly: "They're crazier than we are." The show is pure slapstick fun, interspersed with low-key morality tales and a few fleeting messages of faith. "I make an art of not laying my formal religious trip on people," Weber says (instructing his audience: "You don't have to call me Father"). But the show's purpose is "pre-evangelical—to soften up people to accept the surprise that God is present. God is a free spirit. He must be preached everywhere. In the temple, God is no longer a surprise."
Link (here) to the Sept 04th 1974 People Magazine to read the full piece.


Anonymous said...

Is this alarming looking fellow a good or bad Jesuit?

Rev. Dr. Joan M. Saniuk said...

It must have been around 1974 when I saw the Royal Lichtenstein Circus at Creighton University. (Or was it much later, at UC Santa Barbara? Or maybe both??)

I was enchanted, and I've never forgotten it. Simple morality plays, delivered with a sense of humor. Good stuff.