While most people are enjoying their Christmas holidays, this is probably the busiest time of the year for Tony Wong Kin-wing, who creates fun around Hong Kong through his hobby, clowning.
Better known as Wing Wing the Clown, Wong won the “King of Clowns” title on Wednesday at the 2nd Hong Kong Clown Festival. Organised by Island Resort Mall in Chai Wan, and the Regentville Shopping Mall and Avon Mall, both in Fanling, the festival is a month-long event performed at various malls.
“I am very happy,” said Wong, who is in his 30s, said. “This shows that the efforts I have made in the past ten-plus years were not wasted.” Clowning has been his hobby and semi-professional job for 14 years.
Encouraged by a priest who taught him to juggle at his secondary school, Wong took a one-month summer training programme at the Clown College of Ocean Park, plus a two-week internship there, in 1998. He continued to develop his skills, travelling to the US state of Minnesota to take part in the two-week Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp in 2001.
By winning Wednesday’s festival, he will get full sponsorship to attend the annual convention of the World Clown Association, in Malaysia early next year, where he will exchange clown skills and experiences with clowns from around the world.
“Clowns in Hong Kong focus more on [juggling] skills or doing magic … but we are not so good at dancing or farce,” he said. “Foreign countries have various courses to teach us build up the character of a clown and find our own way of performing.”
Wong can make up to HK$2,000 for a 30-minute show, and says he was booked for over 30 performances during the Christmas season. “Clowns have more recognition today … malls and many birthday parties [invite clowns]”.
Even so, he is keeping his full-time job as a clerk to take care of his family.
Working as a clown is about “cheering myself and cheering others”, and it is important for clowns to like children, he said. He encourages aspiring clowns to apply themselves seriously to learning the art, saying Hong Kong has clowns but no professionals.
Mok Long-hei, 14, and Wong Chun-kiu, 16, from Sing Yin Secondary School, were also winners at the festival. Both said they would learn from Wing Wing the Clown and continued to practise their skills.
“Juggling requires a lot of technique, and normally you are not supposed to fail,” said Wong Chun-kiu. “But when we are clowns, failing is a part of the performance. Clowns need to have a sense of humour … and connect with the audience.”