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Math Teacher Dan Miner was a Professional Clown for Two Years


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FHN Math Teacher Dan Miner stands dressed up in his clown costume.

It’s not unusual for teachers to have side jobs. Some might teach an extra class online, teach at a university part time or some might even work as a delivery driver outside of school hours. But FHN teacher Dan Miner had a more interesting side hustle than the average math teacher.

This year is Dan Miner’s first year teaching at FHN, but he has been teaching Algebra I and Geometry for 15 years now. But during two of his years as a teacher, he also worked as a professional clown. This was an opportunity many individuals sought for, but one that Miner happened to stumble upon. 

“I was on a trip down to New Orleans [for] Mardi Gras,” Miner said. “I was approached by a group of clowns that asked me if I would like to fill in and give it a try. I thought, ‘hey, try everything at least once’. So I tried it and liked it. It took a decision though, because I had to decide if I really didn’t like it or if I really liked it. Once I decided I really liked it, I clowned around.”

Thus Miner began his journey as a trained jester, working with a band of clowns performing for audiences and bringing smiles to all kinds of faces. But being a clown isn’t all laughs and juggling, it takes serious professionalism and practice to develop the kind of skill that Miner maintained. 

“I had to learn some skits,” Miner said. “I had to learn to role-play, I had to practice handing out toys and candy and things, because there’s a right way and wrong way for everything. A lot of it was just on the job on the street, and how to put makeup on, how to wear your clown hair and your clown clothes and things like that.”

Working as a professional clown never has its dull moments. For his first few performances Miner had a memorable time working with his clown crew and developing his love for performing. Shortly after Miner began performing with his clown co-workers, he was initiated into the clown crew and was given his first clown name. 

“One thing I thought was interesting was I was given my clown name,” Miner said. “I didn’t have a clown name at the start. So once when I performed as a clown I was approached by the clown council, and they said ‘we think you’re a good clown. We would like to give you your name now. We’d like to award you with the name Snickers.’”

But things started to get serious for Miner when it came to his professional clown career. After two years in the business he realized just how much dedication an individual needs to be a professional clown. Expenses began to pile up for costumes, makeup, props and amenities for traveling while performing. Miner loved working as a clown, but he knew he could never give up his hobby for his career as a teacher. 

“I started going pretty deep with it,” Miner said. “Then I thought I wanna put my energy into other things. I started having too much fun with it and then I started to think about how far I wanted to go to be a clown, and I realized I didn’t wanna go very far.”

But Miner has no regrets when it comes to the time he spent working as a professional clown. Bringing smiles and joy to peoples faces when he performed was his favorite aspect of performing as a clown. Though he’s now retired from his wacky career, Miner believes that he would perform again, just as long as his students don’t recognize him.