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Sherron Newberg:

CHECKING IN WITH ...

Are you having a laugh?

Daily Pilot talks to co-owner of humor shop who not only delivers pranks, but receives them also.

June 05, 2008|By Chris Caesar

Sherron Newberg and Richard Willis bought Costa Mesa’s “House of Humor” 15 years ago, but the store has undergone plenty of changes since: moving, staying open as other branches of the chain went out of business, and broadening its market to include party entertainment, magic kits and costumes.

I sat down with Newberg, who is also an independent clown and magician, to pick her brain about the humor industry and her career.

Q. Would you say the humor industry is recession-proof? Are people willing to laugh in good and bad times?

Even in a recession, my store is doing very well. Folks want to brush up their businesses by renting a chicken [costume]; but also, when people are out of jobs they are kind of down, see House of Humor and drop in.

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Q. So, out with it: What’s the best joke anyone has ever played on you?

Well, my husband and I play jokes on each other a lot. I forget what Rich has done to me, but I recently put some cream cheese in his deodorant.

People can’t play a lot of jokes on me, because I’m usually two steps ahead of them.

Q. Considering your status as an icon for the local goof-off community, I was wondering whether you had any inspirational words for any class clowns who may be reading.

To class clowns? Saying what?

Q. Well, maybe these kids feel a little alienated in school, don’t get enough attention or inspiration from people who might write them off. I’m wondering whether you — a successful goof artist — could provide some direction.

There’s a fine line goofing off in school, because teachers can look down on them and say they can’t talk, can’t goof-off and so on.

I was a class clown, and I know that [it requires] a special type of personality: loving people, willing to look people straight in the eye and be honest.

A class clown is actually an extremely honest person who still likes to have a laugh now and then.

Just do it at the right time, not the wrong time.

Q. Recently, I saw a report conducted by the University of Sheffield that found clowns are almost “universally disliked by kids.” I wonder: In a post-John Wayne Gacy, Pennywise [child-eating homicidal clown from Stephen King’s “It”] world, is the golden age of clowning doomed?

People aren’t scared of me. Look, clowning is an art. You have to allow the child to approach you. I never approach a child.

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