Being a children’s entertainer is not for the faint-hearted, but luckily Matt Coombes, (aka Rumple the Clown) has a big, beating ticker. We catch up with the professional actor and director of Rumple and Friends, a kids entertainment service that has been keeping the tiny tears flowing – in a good way – for the last four years.
Have you always been a joker?
Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to be the centre of attention, whether it was being on stage, telling jokes, falling over, or eating horrific food – anything for a good laugh! I love making people chuckle, and thankfully, I have been semi-successful at it. I didn’t realise I could do it as a full-time job until I started my own business in Hong Kong. Now I cant imagine doing anything else!
How did you become a clown?
I set up my business here in 2012 and wanted to go into events as I had been a performer in London, and had lots of fun ideas for what to do in clubs and for adults here. I got a few gigs, but I did a kid’s birthday party for a friend and from that I got another, and from that I got two more, and it sort of snowballed! For the first party I created the character of Rumple the Clown who lived in his suitcase – hence everything he wore was rumpled! It stuck and I got more and more bookings and had to create a website, start marketing, and just left the adult events behind!
What’s the best part of your job?
Making children laugh so hard they cry. Every time I am tired and starting my third party of a day, when the kids start laughing, it just gives me all my energy back and I put everything into making them scream, shout, and giggle their way through the entire party. The best thing is my entire team do the same thing. Rumple and Friends is a magnet for attracting the best children’s performers – we all just love kids!
What do you do if a kid is afraid of you?
We are not traditional white-faced make up clowns, we are far more “children’s entertainers”, so it’s very rare that children are ever scared of us. We designed it that way. It’s more our energy and volume that children get worried by. Fortunately my team and I are amazing at gauging the room and changing our approach to the party depending on what the children are enjoying. For younger children we’ll sit down with them and it will be a much gentler party than for boisterous 6 or 7 year olds.
What’s your best party trick?
For kids my best tricks are the ones that don’t work. Watching Rumple completely fail to be magical is far funnier to kids that watching me succeed at anything!
Who is your favourite comedian?
I like the classics – Tommy Cooper for me was an absolute genius and there is a bit of Tommy in Rumple the Clown I think. Things going wrong and everything falling apart around him while all of it completely set up is just amazing to me. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are my performing inspiration. Their physicality and movements are an incredible thing to watch. There’s nothing like them anymore – I’d like to bring it back!
What hides behind your smile?
Oh that’s deep – I would say, a lot of hard work and tired eyes. I work 100 hour weeks and put my heart and soul into Rumple and Friends. I am so lucky to do this for a living and I don’t take a single second for granted. I get to work side by side with my partner Amy-Lou and my best friends who are all amazing performers and make up my core team. Rumple and Friends is a family and they help get me through each party and event. We have some very exciting projects coming up over the next year and it will be challenging, tiring, but most of all, it will be fun!
Read more! Looking for more entertainment? Why not Laugh Your Way through the Week with our roundup of comedy nights in Hong Kong.