Become a Rodeo Clown

Do you think that wearing bright colored baggy pants, painting a smile on your face, and acting goofy can save someone’s life? It can, if you’re a rodeo clown. Rodeo clowns are risk takers that often don’t get much credit for putting their life on the line.

During bull riding events, rodeo clowns are the first defense against the bull after a cowboy gets bucked off. It’s the rodeo clown’s job to distract a 2,000 to 4,000 pound angry bull from going after the cowboy. That’s no easy job. It takes a daredevil.

Imagine a giant wild beast staring you down. Hoofs scrape on the ground and horns swing in your direction. It’s an angry bull. You better be ready to run, distract, and hide. It’s dangerous and these clowns often work in teams of 2 or 3. Distracting a bull takes talent. You need to be fast, agile, and lucky. Bulls might kick you, trample you under their huge weight, gore you with sharp horns, pick you up and toss you, or hit you with body or head. Scary. No matter how good a rodeo clown you are, eventually you will wake up in the hospital with broken bones, concussions, or dislocations. This job can certainly be fatal, but clowns do it for the rush.



A rodeo clown’s job doesn’t just stop at protecting a bull riding cowboy. In fact, this is only half their job. During the rodeo there are lulls and slow times. This is when a rodeo clown needs his other talents. Rodeo clowns have to keep the crowd amused. They need skits, jokes, and conversation ready to go. It takes comedic talent, energy, creativity, and a sense of humor. Clowns aren’t expected to just entertain with their funny painted smiles. They can use props, explosions, fireworks, or audience members.

Most people don’t just decide to become a rodeo clown. They may have grown up in a rodeo clown state like Colorado, Montana, or Kansas. Maybe worked on a dude ranch during the summer. After watching several rodeos, you’ll get a good idea of what a clown actually does. It’s impressive and it’s hard work. Approach and talk with rodeo clowns to get the low down on the job.

Apprentice at smaller, or youth, rodeos. It’s a good place to learn the ropes. You may even want to attend clown training schools where you’ll learn typical clown behavior, comedy routines, face painting skills, and even how to handle bulls. Quite a few rodeo clowns are also ex-cowboys.

Rodeo clowns have a terrifying office – staring a fuming bull in the eyes followed shortly after by staring an expecting audience in the face. This is not the job for everyone. Rodeo clowns can make between $100 and $500 per show depending on level and experience. When full time rodeo clowns work about 60 to 100 shows per year, they can plan to average about $50,000 per year. Rodeo clowns often have to pay for their own travel and usually have to pay for their own rubber-lined safety barrel.



Every rodeo nationwide needs a rodeo clown. That means there are a lot of jobs available for these athlete-entertainers. Rodeos are always looking for brave souls. Go check out your local rodeo and ask what opportunities are available. Get to know about the bulls that are ridden and their temperament. It could save your life and the life of a cowboy.

Rodeo clowns have a serious job as a rodeo performer. It takes mental prowess, physical strength, and good fortune. If you are seriously considering a life as a rodeo clown, you need to start thinking of a fun rodeo clown name…Twister? Timber? Slapstick? Crazy? Before you sign on the dotted line for a rodeo clown gig, it is highly recommended that update your health insurance.

Quick Facts About Rodeo Clowns

Job Title: Rodeo Clown
Office: Rodeo Arena
Description: Protect cowboys from bulls and entertain rodeo audiences
Certifications/Education: Rodeo Clown School
Necessary Skills: Speed, Agility, Wits, Humor, Courage
Potential Employers: Rodeos
Pay: $40,000 to $90,000 per year or $100 to $500 per show

Helpful Links:
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
Professional Bull Riders
Sankey Rodeo Schools

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