College of Liberal Arts

This Fool's No Ghoul

Mon, Oct 30, 2017
Bonzo Crunch (photo courtesy of Rik Gern.)
Bonzo Crunch (photo courtesy of Rik Gern.)

On Halloween Night, 13-year-old Rik Gern grabbed his wooden cane before setting off to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood as Charlie Chaplin.

Delighted at the sight of a child festooned in a black bowler and matching mustache, families welcomed him inside to show off his foolproof impression to granny.

“Look, Nana! Look who’s here to visit you,” Gern laughs, recalling his introduction to elders who no doubt remembered the Tramp from years gone by. “I stayed in character the entire night. I would twirl my cane and twitch my little mustache; and I got a sense of how fun it was to be that character and to be entertaining.”

Today, you can find Gern at birthday parties, festivals and family reunions dressed as Bonzo Crunch, Austin, Texas’s “Fool at Large”—a career he launched full-time 40-years-ago when an advertisement for clowning classes on his college’s campus agitated his funny bone enough that he dropped out, joined a local clown group and ran away to the circus.

Read the full story on Life & Letters online


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