You’d think that, after all the needless hoopla over his innocent pantomime of President Barack Obama earlier this month at the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association finals, entertainer Tuffy Gessling – who’s been barred from ever taking part in the event again – would be a sad clown. But you’d be wrong.
Gessling spoke with CBS affiliate KCTV-5 in Kansas City Monday, offering a dose of rationality in the same mainstream media forum that has spent the past two weeks manipulating emotionally volatile racist detractors into an indignant frenzy. He said he’s received both support and scorn, but just wants everyone to step back and realize we live in a pretty great Nation – one that’s safe and comfortable enough to allow idle citizens the leisure to view trifles like his clown act as a five-alarm cultural fire.
“I actually think that a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh,” said Gessling, who’s been the target of anonymous threats to his life and property. “Look at the country as a whole, there is a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh.”
The intrepid reporters at KCTV asked Gessling which political party he identified with, hoping to reveal a motive for his harmless (and time-honored) politically-flavored stunt.
“I am a rodeo clown,” he responded. “I didn’t do this to do any hating on anyone. I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke… 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.”
By now you know what Gessling is supposedly guilty of: donning a mask of President Barack Obama’s face and allowing himself to be the slapstick target of a charging bull – complete with fanfare from the public address announcer and a second rodeo clown.
The racist allegations baffle Gessler, who said politicians have always provided a reliable stream of clown fodder. Gessler said he wasn’t seeing the President’s color when he and his clown friends skewered him – he just saw the man who’d been elected to the highest political office in the land.
“I never did anything because of anybody’s race. I don’t care what color somebody is. If they’re blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped … it doesn’t bother me one bit,” he said.
In fact, Gessling said he respects the office of the Presidency and would view any encounter with the real President Obama as an honor.
“If President Obama turns out [at one of my performances], I would be honored to shake his hand,” he said.