by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Growing up, Sean Davis always showed a knack for performance. But after graduating high school in his hometown of Chicago, the self-proclaimed thrill seeker joined the United States Marine Corps, and served in the first Gulf war. After receiving an honorable discharge, he got back to performing, and friends encouraged him to audition for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. He aced the audition and graduated from the show’s Clown College in 1995. Although he took a break from performing around the time of his nine year-old daughter’s birth, Sean missed the excitement and was soon back onboard.
Sean will appear Feb. 18 – Feb. 22 at the Richmond Coliseum for the 139th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s newest Circus, “Zing Zang Zoom!”
How did you go from being a U.S. Marine to becoming a professional clown?
I’ve always had an interest in being a performer. I got out of the military in 1994 and joined a performance group. I became friends with a lot of the clowns and they pushed me in that direction. Here I am today! Most people start in their late teens or early 20s. I have the dubious distinction of being the oldest clown in Clown Alley. Our youngest clown is 18.
Are people surprised that you went from being a soldier to being a circus performer?
Some people find it amusing that I could go from being a straight-on, hard person from the Marines to being a clown. Physically speaking, the demands are pretty much the same. It’s all well worth it. My job is not too physical and my body’s well conditioned enough to take the bruises.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to see a different city every week. But more than that, it’s putting smiles on the faces of millions of people, especially now with the economy being in the slump. It’s a joy to me to know that for two hours I can take people’s minds off of all of that and just captivate them for two hours.
What’s it like sharing the hometown of our 44th President, Barack Obama?
I was actually in Grant Park when the election results came in. It’s an amazing honor to have seen it. Now that we have an African American president, and with me being the only African American in the show, it’s an amazing honor for me.