MY OUTLOOK: Richard Broom, Grumpy the Clown
How long have you been a clown?
I have been a Shriner for 26 years and have been a member of the Clown Unit eight years.
How did you get involved?
I was a member of the Motor Corp part of the Shriners for many years. I was one of the crazy Shriners driving the little speedy go-karts in the parades. I decided I wanted to do something that would interact with the children more, and I had some friends who were in the clown unit of India Shrine. They talked me into giving it a try, and I soon fell in love with clowning. We get to have as much fun as the kids!
What is your clown name?
My name is Grumpy. I am a hobo clown, down on my luck, but always happy.
How did you choose that name?
My wife named me, and for some reason my entire family thought it was the perfect name. Now, even my grandkids call me Grumpy. I just don’t get it.
What’s your favorite part about being a clown?
Having fun with the kids! I get to act silly, tell corny jokes, make balloon animals and toys, and entertain the children with my puppet, Rocky the Raccoon. I make hundreds of pictures each year at the Shrine Circus, the Oklahoma State Fair, and all the area parades. Sometimes Rocky and I even sign autographs.
How long does it take you to get into full clown gear?
It takes about an hour to get in gear and makeup. My wife, Kim, is my personal makeup artist and dresser. She scours the local thrift stores for the oldest, most worn out clothes in the stores, and then makes them look even worse. When she gets done Richard Broom is gone, and Grumpy comes alive.
What do you do as a clown?
I make balloon animals and toys, juggle, do a few magic tricks and play with Rocky. I get lots of people, including adults, who ask if Rocky is real. I tell them he’s all real except his felt ears.
What’s your favorite event to attend in clown-mode?
Why? I enjoy all our activities, but my favorite is our annual circus. Our whole unit of clowns had a blast! We do a skit each year as part of the circus and we work the crowds before and after the circus. We play with the kids, tease the parents, have our pictures made, and sign autographs and the circus programs.
Tell us more about the Shrine Circus.
The circus is held in March of each year at the State Fairgrounds and is our main fundraiser each year for the India Shrine Center, but mostly it is a good time for all. All the Shriners work in different areas, parking, seating, selling novelties, etc. Seeing all the area kids having a good time makes it worthwhile.
Have you always been interested in entertaining children?
Besides many years as a Shriner to benefit children, I have coached with the Optimist Club in football and basketball. I think our children need all the attention they can get, and a healthy environment in which to flourish.
What’s your favorite clown memory?
A couple years ago I found out my granddaughter, Jessie, was going to bring a picture of me as Grumpy to her kindergarten class for show and tell. Jessie and her classmates were sure surprised when the real Grumpy walked in! I got to tell them about what Shriners do for crippled and burned children simply through entertaining her class. Jessie and I both made a lasting memory that day.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I am a very proud husband, father, grandfather and Sooner.
Tell us about the Shriners.
The Shriners support children’s hospitals and burn centers across North America and offer medical care for a variety of medical conditions regardless of ability to pay. The India Shrine Center in Oklahoma City provides transportation free of charge to the patients and one parent, including room and board during the hospital visit. The clowns also donate money to the Red Sneaker Fund, which goes to medical research for the Shrine Hospitals. I am very proud to be a small part of this great endeavor.
So if you see old Grumpy with a donation jar, please know that it goes to a good cause.