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Monday, July 29, 1996
By David Ferris, Staff Writer, Argus Newspaper
On Saturday morning at the Fremont Festival of the Arts, Alan Kahn wore red, white and blue face paint, wore a rainbow-colored frizzy wig and went by the name Confetti.
It was just an average Saturday morning.
He took one of those long, sausage-like balloons and twisted it into the shape of a dog for a little girl in a blue-print dress.
"What kind of dogs grow up in the ground?" he asked her.
She said she didn't know.
"A collie-flower!" Kahn answered.
Kahn, 31, has perhaps succeeded more than anyone in Fremont at making balloon figures, magic tricks, silly clothing and infantile jokes into a career.
As the founder and owner of 1st. Impressions Entertainment Group, Kahn manages a stable of other clowns and dispatches them, and himself, to children's birthday parties, festivals, public libraries and corporate office parties all over Alameda County and Santa Clara County.
Confetti performs four to six shows a weekend. A typical show Kahn arranges is for two clowns to perform for $500, Kahn said.
A career in clowning was an easy decision for Kahn, who has been performing for children since his adolescence in San Jose.
It started with a fascination with magic tricks when he was 13, an interest that led to performances at children's birthday parties. His mother drove him to his engagements.
Kahn's father Howard is a clown as well. Owner of a tax practice by day and a clown by night, Howard Kahn has been clowning for 25 years.
The family involvement doesn't stop there. Alan Kahn's wife, Jenny, has been clowning since their marriage six years ago.
Their only daughter, at three years old, isn't performing yet. She's a little young to get into the act, but one of these years we're going to," Howard Kahn said.
Clowning and magic acts helped Alan Kahn pay for his bachelor's degree in public relations at San Jose State University.
For five years, Kahn worked in a series of stern-faced office jobs in public relations at several Silicon Valley companies, but his heart wasn't in it. Four or five years ago he returned to clowning full time.
The enjoyment makes it worthwile. "It's a lot of fun to go to places, and the children are laughing and smiling and want you to stay," he said. "They're hanging on your leg and don't want you to leave."
It's a joy to do. It's never, 'Oh, it's a job, it's a chore.'"
Kahn took a step toward legitimizing his chosen profession last week when the Fremont City Council considered declaring the week of Aug. 1 to 7 as National Clown Week. President Richard Nixon was the first to decree National Clown Week 25 years ago.
"All across America, good men in putty noses and baggy trousers, following a tradition as old as man's need to touch gently the lives of his fellowman, go into orphanges and children's hospitals, homes for the elderly and for the retarded, and give a part of themselves," the declaration reads.
"Today, as always, clowns and the spirit the represent are as vital to the maintenance of our humanity as the builders and the growers and the governors."
Kahn and his father came to the city council meeting fully dressed in baggy outfits and face paint. The city council approved the declaration, although none of them wore the clown noses he had given them beforehand.
Kahn will be celebrating National Clown Week by accompanying the Kiwanis Club Meals on Wheels program on its rounds Thursday.
In fact, Kahn does frequent charity appearances at schools and libraries.
"It's good to be silly. It's good to laugh and giggle," Kahn said.