Clown Nose Club: Penn State’s Pick-Me-Up
When I first heard of the Penn State Clown Nose Club, I thought, “What the hell?” Someone came up with a BS excuse to mooch off our Student Activity Fee for whatever they want. But I found out that “spreading happiness through unconventional positive social risk taking” means a lot more than that.
“We are not about clowns,” says the club’s president Chad Littlefield. “Just their noses. Horror movies can keep the clowns.” It started after a Cirque du Soleil show where free clown noses were handed out. Chad wore his back to his dorm, greeting everyone along the way. “100% of the people smiled 100% of the time,” he says. If you’ve seen the movie Patch Adams, it’s along those lines. So from then on he and some of his friends started wearing clown noses around campus, getting similar reactions.
Chad was dissatisfied with the social culture on campus, about how people are pretty closed-off and tight-lipped unless it’s a weekend and they’re drunk. The CNC’s vision is a Penn State where the frequency of conversation on the infamous “Drunk Bus” is indistinguishable from any other. And he’s got a point. As Chad says, we all need to take ourselves less seriously. Hence the clown noses. “You can’t be a jerk and judge other people when you’re wearing a clown nose—you just can’t do it.”
So what exactly do they do? Right now, the Clown Nose Club is mainly about random acts of kindness. They had a table set up in the East Commons yesterday with thank you notes for people to fill out, or just to give to a random person on the bus, for example. They give out “challenge cards” that have the club’s name on them and then “You matter in the world.” Giving them out to anyone, they encourage people to in turn give them out to another random person they might see. They hope that these cards will eventually wind up across the country.
The club’s got bigger ideas, too. Right now, they’re competing for a Pepsi Refresh Grant worth $25,000—which is a lot of money for a seemingly very simple organization. But with the grant, they intend to fund socials, get shirts, and of course noses, possibly enough for the student section in a clown-nose-themed football game. But here’s the kicker: they want to fund a trip to South America to work with the Patch Adams humanitarian group to “spread happiness” on a considerably larger scale. You can vote for them with your Facebook account once a day here. They’re well on their way, since they’ve been in the Top 10 since they entered the contest.
If you’re interested, they are having a meeting Wednesday in 111 Chambers. Feel free to stop by. There’s no point in being shy about it.