Our Opinion: Rodeo clown keeps the crowd guessing

“Be a clown, be a clown. All the world loves a clown.” — Cole Porter

Despite the renowned lyricist’s assertion, all the world does not love Tuffy Gessling.

As our readers may recall, he was the rodeo clown who used a President Obama mask as a prop during a rodeo at the Missouri State Fair while another clown prodded audience members by asking if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull.”

Although Gessling’s antic may have gotten a few chuckles, it also got him banned for life from the State Fair. In addition, it put him on the receiving end of five death threats and a barrage of criticism from politicians from both parties for being disrespectful and insensitive.

In his first public appearance since that madcap imbroglio, Gessling will participate next week at the Pro Bull Riding Show in Jefferson City. The show is sponsored by Amped Up Productions.

Both the clown and the production company owner, Isaiah Dunn, defend the presidential send-up as a comedic routine rooted in tradition, not racism.

Dunn called the antic “probably one of the oldest rodeo acts,” and added: “I’ve known Tuffy for 15 to 20 years and without a doubt, he is not a racist.”

For his part, Gessling said: “If President Obama turns out, I would be honored to shake his hand.”

He added: “This clown bit has been around for generations, and I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan.”

That said, will he reprise the presidential pratfall in Jefferson City?

“Only time will tell,” Gessling quipped.

In the grand tradition of showmanship, Gessling is keeping his audience guessing.

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