Fraser Hooper is an award winning clown who also directs and teaches many other performers. He travels around the world performing at festivals, circuses, theatres and on TV
Fraser was born in Highgate, London in 1967. His first ever show was at the early age of 5 it was in his back garden for friends and neighbours. He doesn’t know why but he has always wanted to be a clown.
When Fraser first saw Nola Rae at the London Mime Festival it made him realise that clowns are not just for circuses “When I was 15 or 16 I saw Nola Rae and she changed everything for me. I wanted to clown in theatres after seeing her play.” He went every year to the festival from 1984 to 1995. His other early inspirations include the Goodies, Charlie Chaplin and Rowan Atkinson.
Fraser’s first paid gig was in a farm in Finchley the audience was so tough he ran away!!!! He only got paid £10. After he left school he formed a comedy double act with his school friend Scot Crane they were called the Hoons* from 1986-1989, together they performed in pubs and clubs all over London including the Hackney Empire.
*See the Hoons rap in appendix
Fraser started working at Chessington World of Adventures “It was massive for me. I was at Chessington from 93 – 97. I learnt how to perform outdoors there…Travelling to work knowing that you were going to be stupid all day long was a great feeling and just as much nonsense happened in the green room as it did in the park.”
As his new identity (Strawberry the clown) Fraser sent out flyers to various theatres only getting one booking in a theatre called the Lauderdale House, a woman called Claire Fischer saw his act and became his agent for about 7 years booking him in theatres all over the UK.
Fraser stopped being Strawberry the clown when he wanted to be taken more seriously, by then he had started teaching so he packed away his red nose and moved on. He never used traditional make up, he said this: “I like a little bit of mystery about what I am going to do on stage at the beginning of my show. If I’m wearing clown make up there is already an assumption about what I have to offer.”
He taught clown at Circus Space in London (now known as the National Centre For Circus Arts) and then started directing while performing at more festivals and theatres solo and with other people including Inside Out with Mat Rudkin.
In 2009, with his wife and two children, Fraser moved to Wellington, New Zealand.
One day he went for a walk and in the window of a martial arts shop he saw some giant boxing gloves!! “and within 20 seconds I‘d seen the whole routine,” he asked how much they were but they weren’t for sale so he found out the manufacture and bought them directly from them and that’s how he came up with the Boxing show he’s famous for today. He began it in about 2010 and has been touring ever since. His boxing show has won him many awards all over the world. He continued to work with other people and developed another solo show called Country Life.
NOW AND THE FUTURE
His normal balance of work is 20% to 30% directing some teaching and 50% to 60% performing. He performs at theatres, circuses and street festivals. “If I play outdoors too much I miss inside and if I play inside too much I miss the outdoors.”
Fraser’s plans for the coming year were:
May to September outdoor festivals in Europe and Canada
A Spanish clown festival in October
A month in Portugal in a circus around Christmas time.
Because of corona virus Fraser and many other performers have no work for a very long time. He believes that travel will be very difficult and expensive for the next year, there is not enough work in New Zealand and he wants to create more work for himself and others.
2018 Bronze at The Wuhan International Acrobatic Arts Festival China 2019 The Iron Chicken award at The Christchurch Bread and Circus World Buskers Festival NZ
2019 Silver at The Saint Paul Des Lax Circus Festival in France
FAVOURITE AND MOST
Favourite Moment: St Albans Art Centre UK 1991 Theatre show
Most Important: Strawberry’s (Fraser) First booking Lauderdale House London UK
Most Famous Venues: Circus Massimo (Italian TV show) shot in the old movie studios, BBC, ITV and The National Theatre London.
Most Expensive: Car launch at The XL Centre London. I was booked as the clown director for the opening.
Favourite Directing Job: Pitts Family Circus, Australia www.thepitts.com.au
Very young: Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Caroli.
Also: Woodstock and Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoons and the Pink Panther. I reckon that’s where my love of Jazz music came from.
Early on: Nola Rae, Avner the Eccentric, Bob Berky, Phillipe Genty, Complicite, The Right Size, Le Quatuor…
Outdoors: from Convent Garden. Pepe Mime, Arlo Barlow, Chris and Alex on tall unicycles The Florists, Butterflyman…
Later years: Heap and Wall, Spymonkey, Slava Polunin, Jacques Tati, Max Wall, Lano and Woodley, Palfi, The Marx Brothers, The Strangelings (Bramble FM), The Pitts, Alex and Barti, Peter Sellers, Lee Evans, Freddie Starr, Mooky, WC Fields, Joel Salom, George Carl…
The Hoons Rap
Well it’s an H double O and an N and an S
We’re the Hoons and we’re the best
We know how to rhyme and we know how to rock
And we get cold feet because we don’t wear socks
The person who I’m going to introduce to you
Is Scoty Crane and he’s 6 foot 2
I’m Scoty C and my message is clear
I don’t have to scratch I just squeak my ears (makes his ear squeak)
I’m Fraser H and I like 5 Star
They’re a good group and they might go far
We are here to entertain you
We’ve been rehearsing all week through
So sit back, relax, enjoy the show
Press that button (while revealing belly buttons)
And here we go