Last Updated on April 6, 2021 by Sammie

,Everybody wants a mentor.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been in the entertainment world for a while. And I definitely didn’t grow up with it. So my only experience comes from the last few years and watching tv. And this experience led me to believe that in a perfect world your talent brings you together with your mentor. There’s no effort involved. You simply go about your awesomeness and an older version of who you want to be when you grow up appears to show you the way. Then there’s a Disney movie made of your life and you live off commission.

Turns out that’s not how a mentor comes in to peoples lives.

Are mentors common?

Are we entitled to one as twenty somethings? I’ve been waiting for my Mentor Mania catalog to come in the mail but it seems to have gotten lost. But I did seem to have stumbled upon what seemed like a mentor regardless. He definitely isn’t who I want to be when I grow up. He isn’t the older more awesome version of me. Frankly he’s this childish, wrinkly, dirty old bat who decided to amuse me with a piece of advice one day.

It’s an odd thing. There was no secret handshake, no watching each other from a far plotting our mini me and mighty me growth. I didn’t even realize it was happening when it began.

Voilà, I grant you your clown mentor.

The reality was I’d ask him what time he wanted to work and he’d say “I don’t want to work. It’s just having fun, It’s playing around. We’re clowns, we suck and we learn how to suck well.” (Did you catch his dirty joke?) 

Genuinely, I was nervous to work with him. I blush when someone looks at me too intensely. Let alone someone telling me to sing a madeup song for them while playing the banjo (it happened).

There’s this skill that gets beaten out of you as you age. It’s the ability to play around, to mess around, to do nonsense. The skill of play. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s simply relearning how to ignore the voice in your head that dictates every part of your being. It’s just doing, because.

Be a baby. 

(Yea, I didn’t know what he meant either but you best believe I pretended to be on the same page as this guy.) Apparently creating your character is like starting with a baby. Babies and kids are insanely good inspiration because they are too naive to know better. You ask a child why he’s walking with his arm up and his response will probably be something like, “because I wanna” or “because I feel like it” or just annoyingly “because”. And I applaud you little kid, because one day some annoying adult is gonna tell you to put your arm down “just because”.

my clown shoes
my clown mentor

Mentor mentality: Let the f*** go.

There’s something beautiful about the time I had a 13 minute conversation with him in gibberish. And I’ve never been prouder of the moment we made up a song complete with dance moves and made up words for the chorus. There was ballet to a heavy metal soundtrack and face pulling 2 inches from the mirror.  These moments made me realize just how conditioned I was to act normal. And how uncomfortable breaking molds can be.

Then one day my mentor left.

The details are unimportant but he left. Out the door, buh bye. Before I could make sense of the empty clown shoes in his dressing room. Before I could ask him what he’s thinking about when he’s sitting in a corner on stage. And before I could tell him I needed him behind the curtain for my first show. He moved on. As slow as I was to realize I had a clown mentor, I was very quick to realize when I didn’t.

Our relationship doesn’t go back years. I don’t have decades of memories to reminisce about. But it’s not fair. I hung on every word this guy said. I listened to the seemingly nonsense jargon that came out of his mouth. His opinion was the only one I cared to know which would undoubtedly piss him off.

But I don’t care that it would piss him off because he pissed me off. So I will be selfish. I wasn’t ready to give up my mentor. I wasn’t ready to give up the first person to teach me not to take life so seriously. There was so much more to learn…Or maybe not. He would be annoyed to hear me say I lost a mentor, hell he’d probably fake cry like a very large bald baby. I don’t think he would have considered himself a mentor. If I ever see him again, I’ll ask.

He was going to change my life as an artist. 

But c’est la vie. Sometimes when all you need is a good poop joke we are left alone to lace up our own cold wet clown shoes.

If you were someone’s mentor, what’s one piece of advice you’d leave them with? Comment below!