Clowning Around is the first of two productions by Wonderworks telling the story of Sim, a young lad interested in being a professional clown. Together, the two shows describe the life of a 14-year-old Australian orphan as he grows up. These six hours of film are based on the novel Clowning Sim by Dave Martin.

The plot (with parts left out... six hours of movie is somewhat difficult to summarize):

Simon Gunner, or Sim as 'everyone' calls him, was left by his mother in a train station at the age of seven. Since that time, he clowns around in one foster home after another, until he meets Anatole Tolin, a frenchman, who is the "world's best clown". Anatole undertakes to teach Sim the ropes of proper clowning, and for a while Sim participates willingly. But Sim is young and foolhardy, and steals Anatole's clown-face from a picture in order to do a late-night show of his own. Then it is back to the foster homes for Sim, though he now believes strongly in himself as a clown. When Anatole writes from Paris about the Winter Circus, Sim decides to go to Paris to apologize to Anatole and try out for the Winter Circus.

In part two ("Clowning Around 2"), Sim has been in Paris for a while, but is beginning to feel constrained by those around him. He is only a "carpet clown", but he wants to be a "feature clown". He meets an impromptu clown named Eve who encourages him in his clowning. However, because of his strong will and 'strange' ideas about the circus, Sim is fired for snooping. Then he follows Eve to Montreal in hopes of employment by the circus she is a part of. That falls through, so he goes back to Australia to find 'normal' work. While in Australia, a lawyer contacts him to say that he, Simon Gunner, has inherited a circus! The second movie concludes with Sim's adventures in owning a circus.


Clowning Around and Clowning Around 2 are all about "growing up", a concept that Sim is at last familiar with by the end. Only a small portion of these films is about the circus, clowns, juggling, menageries and the like. Most of it is about Sim, his friendships, and his personal growth. Wonderworks touts the pair as "Family movies", and they are good as such.


The list of actors (not complete):
(Clowning Around)
  • Van Johnson: Emmy Award Winner
  • Ernie Dingo
  • Clayton Williamson
  • Frederique Fouche
  • Jean-Michael Dagory
(Clowning Around 2)
  • Ernie Dingo
  • Clayton Williamson
  • Frederique Fouche
  • Jean-Michael Dagory
  • Heather Mitchell

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