Global Clown Congress Descends on Toonalook Point

Ding Alley
Swellnet Dispatch

TOONALOOK POINT, EAST COAST AUSTRALIA: Circus lovers of all ages were treated to an unexpected day of delights as a softening of COVID-19 domestic travel restrictions, the Queen's Birthday long weekend and a decent southerly swell coincided with the arrival of a contingent of clowns, seemingly from the world over.

First to arrive on the scene was renowned circus tramp Otto von Griebling, who cut a mournful figure, waxing his clown-board under Toona Point Road’s solitary street light in the pre-dawn darkness.

Otto, who paddled out off the beach, rode several waves on the end section in an exaggeratedly mournful manner, suggesting that his was a lonely existence indeed. Early rising onlookers were said to be close to tears and in agreement that there is nothing sadder than a sad clown.



This melancholy prelude revealed itself to be classic Big Top-style emotional manipulation, as by the time von Griebling had performed the deadman’s kickout on his third wave, several tiny cars swerved comically into the Toona Point carpark and began disgorging implausibly large numbers of occupants. 

As many as twelve representatives of the famed Brazilian clowning and tumbling fraternity were seen falling out of a single early-model Suzuki Swift.

Witnesses report up to twenty of these swarthy jesters aggressively challenging passers-by to smell their lapel flowers, elbowing each other out of the way enroute to the jump rock and getting their unfeasibly large shoes stuck between boulders, all the while uncaring of the audience’s reaction, indeed seemingly blinkered to the existence of others.

Impressively though, a troupe of surfing Charivari Clowns of unknown origin turned on a splendid routine of acrobatic manoeuvres and spirited jumps off a mini trampoline and vaulting horse positioned on the high tide ledge, and out into the lineup, whereupon they paddled south around the headland never to be seen again.

By 9.00am, the scene at Toonalook was one of no-holds-barred comic gaiety. And as the traditional circus tune floated out over the lineup, local clown Barry Cornell was sighted pedalling furiously along the foreshore on a bike the size of a small briefcase, angrily denouncing the number of clowns who had invaded his break.

According to spectators, Cornell approached a trio of Japanese Harlequins performing a humorously synchronised stretching routine on the foreshore and accosted them.

“You’re all a bunch of clowns” Cornell shouted theatrically, “And I'm going to throw this bucket of water over you. 

“Oh yes I am!”

The more the terrified Harlequins protested that Cornell not douse them with the bucket of water, the more animated and insistent Cornell became, until after a protracted back-and-forth he finally threw the contents of the bucket at them.

Much to the delight of onlookers, and puzzlement of the Harlequins, the bucket contained not water, but confetti!

Upon which Cornell bellowed his famous catchphrase, one that circus lovers have come to love and cherish: “That’ll Learn Yers. Now Fark Orf Ya Farken Arse Clown Caaarrnts!” before taking a deep bow and acknowledging the appreciative roars of laughter from the gallery.

“Fucken Clowns.”

As the tide dropped and the swell became less consistent, several custard pie skirmishes were reported from the lineup, the most intense exchanges occurring when local full-time Real Estate Agent and part-time clown Matty Sherman approached the lineup from the north on a Stand Up Paddleboard with a unicycle and a separate set of handlebars, giving the appearance of a bike that comes apart.

The contingent of local clowns politely applauded Sherman's follies but the moment he edged into the takeoff zone, there commenced another crowd favourite: the time-honoured ‘chase’ routine, involving wrong turns, mistaken identity, doubling back, asking the audience if they knew Sherman’s whereabouts, the classic reversal where the pursuer momentarily becomes the pursued, and finally a satisfying climax whereupon they set upon Sherman with most convincing mock violence.

Despite the physically draining nature of the clowning routines – the pulling away of chairs at the last moment, the construction of balloon animals, the retrieval of puzzlingly long legropes from the tailgates of various Subaru Foresters – the impromptu Toona Point carnival lasted from dawn to dusk: as one troupe of clowns wearied of performing, there appeared an inexhaustible supply of replacement clowns willing to take their place.

One notable exception was famed French Pierrot clown Bernard Delfont, who spent the day slouched against the bonnet of his Citroen clownmobile, responding with ‘Pffffft’ and a flicked cigarette butt in the direction of anyone who asked if he was intending to join the frivolity in the water.

By nightfall, however, the clowns had dispersed and the circus had moved on. In a fitting bookend, Otto the melancholy circus tramp was last to be seen. Illuminated by the spotlight glow of Toona Point Road’s solitary streetlight, Otto performed a sublime version of the hopping-on-one-leg-help-I-can’t-get-my-goddamn-zipperless-wetsuit-off-over-my-clown-booties-routine before overbalancing and exiting stage left down a dark embankment.

And when Otto’s pitiful cries for help finally faded, the only trace of the day was a scattering of assorted rubber chickens along the high tide line.

// DING ALLEY

Ding Alley is two mates: illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer/designer Gra Murdoch. Their first surf trip out of Vicco was in a borrowed parent’s car to the NSW South Coast. They forgot the tent pegs so Macca slept in the car while Murdoch constructed nightly lean-tos against park benches with their Springer surfboards – surfboards that had flown off at high speed near Cann River when the soft racks gave up the ghost. The low point was either sleeping under a bush in a Wollongong CBD beachfront park or the speeding fine. The highlight was emerging out from the bush track one morning and seeing perfect, empty Pipe peel both ways.

Comments

surfinado's picture
surfinado's picture
surfinado commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 9:49am

Classic comic genius gentlemen!!! Another masterstroke of your pens!!!

Livin large, lovin life

amb's picture
amb's picture
amb commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 10:40am

"Fark Orf Ya Farken Arse Clown Caaarrnts!" t-shirt please

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 1:14pm

yeah classic take on the long weekend, I was wondering how Baz was coping.
The Big Top rolled into my town too , including the half man / half woman hipsters. Still not sure if they were men with handbags or ladies with beards , but their boards never left the roof , and their clown car {82 citroen 2cv} wasn't seen outside the cafe precinct.
Being the selfless person I am , I voluntarily placed myself into lockdown for a further 3 days and waited for the whole thing to blow over.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 2:23pm

Bravo, Gra. A beauty!

shrowp and tear's picture
shrowp and tear's picture
shrowp and tear commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 5:11pm

good to see part of the clown congress move away from snapper ,
but it didn't dent the crowd of nasty snakey dropin groms ...

gdh's picture
gdh's picture
gdh commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 5:23pm

hahahaha this is bloody funny and also mildly depressing. The suzuki swift reference made me laugh out loud as I have seen aforementioned vehicle in various carparks around home. They're like a farking tardis, I can't believe how much shit including people spills out of them after they screech into a carpark. I'm glad there is a foil and SUP in that pic too ; )

Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 7:16pm

Faaaarkny funny stuff ... made the mistake of going to well known point break on the long weekend ...faaarkn circus was in town seen a bloke skate boarding along the the footpath with a twinfin under his arm hair at 45 degrees draggin his legrope behind him which got caught under some unsuspecting strollers foot bringing the concrete and twinny together ...to the delight of the poeple who had to leave the path to let the skate board riding twinny carrying clown past ...as much as the sound of fibre glass hitting concrete disturbed me it managed to make me smile ....

Pastmypeak

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 8:23pm

Since crawling back out from under the house after the Queens birthday big day out bash , I have noticed that the grey nomads have steadily and stealthily infiltrated my local habitat. Although they do seem more wary about even the best council bbq spots ,their presence in town is noticeable ,,, and it's now not unusual to find a Winnebago taking up 4 parks at the local IGA.

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 8:53pm

Couple of "beautiful " brazillian vanlife boys showboating / skateboarding around the car park at the point here the other day, shirtless, one with a fancy long curls look and the other with a man bun, filming themselves, couldnt help myself with giving them a serve , something about fucking off ya poofters and go root each other somewhere else (to uncomprehending stares), funny thing was later that day talking with "spinny vinny" and he is telling me about the Brazo wankers on skateboards in the car park, he opened his door up on one, knocking him over as he went past and then gave it to him about social distancing and what a fucking idiot he is for skating in a full carpark ha ha , good first day for the boys in WA. Endless stream of these clowns though, Australia is the new Bali.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 9:14pm

Time hasn’t moved on much in 40 years out there eh?

views from the cockpit's picture
views from the cockpit's picture
views from the ... commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 5:12am

Ding Alley eh?
A fickle left hander breaking towards rocks in front of a SLSC.
Can there be more than 1???

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 8:40am

There is only one Ding Alley as far as I'm concerned. Beloved wave of my youth.

jelli's picture
jelli's picture
jelli commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 5:51am

Great imagery.

views from the cockpit's picture
views from the cockpit's picture
views from the ... commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 2:04am

Did my first cutback at Ding Alley :-))
Geez there was some characters/trippers hanging around Springer surf shop and the caravan out the back.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 10:21am

Sure were. Used to see Tarz (the kneelo) at Burleigh Cove in the early 2000s a bit, and on the odd moonlit snapper sesh. Good to see Bruce running a great surf shop there now.

see.saw's picture
see.saw's picture
see.saw commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 8:00am

Wow. I predicted this, so I sought isolation and walked 45 minutes through national park to ‘Toona point’. The huge grassy car park was full of circus vehicles. Luckily not many had boards and were just sightseeing. But there were two ways to get to the point and that’s the route the brazzos and most others took. Luckily a bit of size kept it manageable and generally clown free.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 8:18am

"As many as twelve representatives of the famed Brazilian clowning and tumbling fraternity were seen falling out of a single early-model Suzuki Swift."

Very good indeed. I note some serious clown research went into this piece. Mark of a professional Mr Murdoch.

bellavista's picture
bellavista's picture
bellavista commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 1:30pm

Down here on the surf ( now renamed MAMIL coast) even our C and D grade spots have been overrun , by Covid clowns.

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 6:26pm

Same here too Bellavista, every spot is busy all of the time, brazillian "local" clowns posting and naming what were once secret spots on social media, kids spots being taken over by angry surf mums and rich wankers on their foils. What happened to Mandurah in the 90,s is happening to Margs now. Sad to see and the whole covid free money and time off for lots and lots crew has accelerated the progress to no end. What does MAMIL mean anyhow?

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 12:32am

Middle Aged Man In Lycra.

Just learned that recently Mike.

But VicLabor could have told you that.

1173

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 12:42am

Cool piece but poignant all the same- this Pierrot didn't need to paint on his tears.

I spent two great years at clown school until I was kicked out- said I couldn't take it seriously. But found my niche as a human cannonball, had to move on from that. They said they were sad to see me go. Hard to find a man of my calibre.

Slept funny last night. Was dreaming of clowns.

1173

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 12:55am

Great clown writing from the Ding Alley crew. If these blokes retire, there'll be some big shoes to fill.

1173

views from the cockpit's picture
views from the cockpit's picture
views from the ... commented Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 6:17am

Wah Wah Waaah ;-))

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 9:42am

Something smelt funny around here the other day Zen - turns out it was a clown's fart.