“It’s meant to be cheeky—and yet, we’ve found the #NotFunny concept is really resonating with people.”
So Cleveland has reached day #2 of the Republican National Convention. 50,000+ fill Quicken Loans Arena in a multi-day GOP event that will lead up to the “official” declaration of Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s candidate for the 2016 Presidential Race.
Whether the questions come from inside the arena or out, there is a deep split among people nationwide about this year’s presumptive GOP nominee. Some say Donald Trump is “for the people,” and some say he’s a racist hate monger. When you turn on the radio, the TV, or open a paper, there’s are unending opinions on “the Donald.”
A group of Clevelanders has chosen to speak their minds by using the power of performance, as a local group of artist activists will show that this year’s nomination of Donald Trump is #NotFunny.
According to participant Cathleen O’Malley, #NotFunnyCleveland “was born from a collaboration between myself, Daniel McNamara and James Levin. We are a trio of theatre artists with complementary backgrounds: Daniel is a puppeteer and composer; I am a performer, clown and director; James is an overall wizard of creative placemaking, a defense attorney, and deeply involved in the Cleveland activist community.”
O’Malley cites a shared urgency to respond to Trump and the reprehensible statements and policy proposals coming out of his campaign as the RNC arrived in the city.
“After developing a series of sketches and songs (written and composed by James and the brilliant Linda Eisenstein), we pulled together some brave and talented friends. Tada, #NotFunnyCleveland was born. The assembled ensemble is made up of Cleveland local arts and culture workers—performers, actors, musicians, visual artists and activists,” she says.
O’Malley notes that the #NotFunnyCleveland movement is a response to this sense of blurring between between entertainment and news, the collapse of celebrity and leadership, the rise of willful ignorance and the seeming disdain of actual facts.
But why clowns?
“We should know this by now, what makes good pop television is seldom what makes a trustworthy leader. From the primaries through now, Trump and his antics have been referred to as ‘clownish,’ ‘buffoonery’…the Republican field—a clown show, a circus. And yet, nothing about Trump’s policies or rhetoric have me laughing. Seriously not funny. Aside from all that lingo being a total dis to the very cool, hardworking and utterly delightful circus performers and clowns of the world—it’s a total red herring, a distraction from just how dangerous and horrifying a Trump presidency could be. And, full disclosure, I’ve trained extensively in clown—and have a real fondness for the “Everyman” quality of the red nose.”
O’Malley says that the #NotFunnyCleveland idea was born from there—a troupe of legit clowns protesting the appropriation of their respectable art form, in defense of the good name of clowns.
“It’s meant to be cheeky—and yet, we’ve found the #NotFunny concept is really resonating with people. As Americans (and Clevelanders) who cherish our national identity, however flawed, and who truly believe in equality, freedom and justice, who want the best for our country—there is a sense of Americanism and patriotism being hijacked against our will, twisted into something ugly. The clowns’ protest is a proxy for that.”
But are these clowns with a cause willing to risk serious possible violence that is said to be “imminent” with the convention in town amidst so much political and social tension? O’Malley says the group is equally concerned about the potential for danger and the opportunity to showcase the city to the world.
“It has been impossible to predict what will happen, although we were all pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of Public Square [Monday] evening. But open carry is #seriouslynotfunny. We have enlisted a body guard. And lawyers on the speed dial.”
Their skits and music will use irony and comedy to educate and entertain in Cleveland’s newly-renovated Public Square between 4:00pm and 6:00pm daily during the span of the RNC. Performers include O’Malley, James Levin, Daniel McNamara, and other locals.
#NotFunnyCleveland YouTube Video Promo: https://youtu.be/0sZxgUDiQug
You can follow the group on Twitter/Instagram at @NotFunnyCLE, and hashtagged on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #notfunnycleveland.