Bert Davis

Bert Davis

Davis set to clown it up for BCRA finals

Bert Davis, 54, who has been a rodeo clown for 36 years, isn’t ready to tuck away his make-up kit just yet and is pleased as punch to be back in Quesnel.

“I’m really excited about being in Quesnel,” Davis said exuberantly.

“This is where I made my first Canadian appearance as a rodeo clown back in 1992.

Bert Davis, 54,  who has been a rodeo clown for 36 years, isn’t ready to tuck away his make-up kit just yet and is pleased as punch to be back in Quesnel.

“I’m really excited about being in Quesnel,” Davis said exuberantly.

“This is where I made my first Canadian appearance as a rodeo clown back in 1992.

“Gus Cameron hired me and every since then he’s kind of been my Canadian grandpa.”

As the story goes, Davis is the person responsible for rock n’ roll music at rodeos in Quesnel after having coerced the DJ into playing rock n’ roll music, much to the pleasure of the crowd and Joe Juaquin.

“He walked over to me after the rodeo and asked if I could get the DJ to play more rock n’ roll music.

Davis did try his hand at bronc riding and bull riding, but not for long, he just didn’t like it.

“My calling is entertaining a crowd,” he said.

“Having fun while hiding behind my clown face.”

Born in Oakdale, California, Davis, known as the Coppertown Clown, began his career as a rodeo clown at the tender age of 15 under the tutelage of rodeo clown giant Wild Bill Lane.

The initial idea to become a rodeo clown came to Davis as a young child when he watched Stoney Burke, a TV show featuring Jack Lord as a star bronc rider.

“When my parents took me to the rodeo, I didn’t care about any of the events except when the clowns were out there,” he said.

“Later when I was old enough to go to the rodeo by myself you would find me at the clown’s trailer.”

Soon, Davis endeared himself to Wild Bill Lane and pestered him with questions about where to get clown pants and make up and could he be in Lane’s act.

“I just loved clowns,” Davis said, admitting he wasn’t sure what it was about clowns that drew him to the profession.

Lane relinquished and took Davis under his wing, teaching him the in’s and out’s of being a rodeo clown.

The following year Davis had his membership card in the rodeo clown association, thanks to the backing of renowned bull fighter Wick Peth and began his climb to the top.

Part of making it to the top involved finding something unique to include in his act, advice he was given early in his career.

Any good rodeo clown worth his make-up has to be funny.

Davis admits it is getting harder to come up with fresh material for his act, but points to current events, the entertainment industry and the oft cited differences between Canadians and Americans as sources for his material.

“Who’s dating who and who is sleeping with who,” Davis said, all provide fodder for his funny bone.

Davis has spent a considerable amount of time working the rodeo circuit in Canada, and find humour in the experience of an American coming to Canada, as well as the adjustments he has to make when he returns  south of the border.

In addition to keeping the crowd in stitches, Davis’ routine also includes a dog act that was recently had a good run on America’s Got Talent.

As for advice for youngsters considering a career as a rodeo clown, Davis was honest.

“Don’t do it until I retire,” he said with a laugh, then paused and added, “come up with your own character and don’t copy someone else’s act.”

The BCRA finals go this weekend at Alex Fraser Park, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday evening.  Make sure to keep an eye out for Kitty, Davis said with a smile.