ONE FALL, NO DISQUALIFICATIONS

9.04.2008

RE: DOINK THE CLOWN



HOW MANY DOINKS ARE IN THE DRESSING ROOM

Doink debuted in late 1992 as like this sideshow character, halfway between a fan and a commentator. He was a pretty ugly motherfucker, even for a clown. His wig hair was basically repulsive, a radioactive shade of green, and the wig's balding hairline kept most of his strands around the perimeter of his head, sorta like if Larry from the Stooges got ducked headfirst into a bin of hospital sewage. A clown gone wrong--and capitalizing off the clown-gone-wrong momentum of Beetlejuice (whose face Doink ripped off entirely) and the purposeful purposelessness of Jack Nicholson's Joker--which is to say Doink was Heath Ledger's Joker before Heath Ledger's Joker. His face paint had some semblance of order to it, the blue upside-down triangles and the red dot on the nose and so on--but this was maybe Doink's biggest mislead. The character's end game had no internal logic, no particular motivation beyond pulling the rug.

A true clown, in the most Shakespearian sense imaginable, Doink was subject neither to the rules in the ring, nor to the fear that your Bobby Heenan and referee types had to worry about w/r/t staying on Vince McMahon's good side, nor to the paralysis one has as a fan at these things, wondering at all times how participatory of an event is this after all--how far does the "game" of wrestling extend, impunity and all.

When he made the jump to wrestler, the norm for Doink was legendary stunts such as the one above, where he distracted the jock-ish wrestler Crush with simulacra of himself and then snuck up from behind Crush and smeared his eyes with some kind of blinding chemical. Doink is a professional wrestler, yet as a character he exists solely to mock the stereotypes of professional wrestler: big, dumb, obsolete pieces of post-ww2 masculinity--muscles for show. More than that, the clown doesn't rest until he's proven well beyond a doubt something we knew to be true but had put aside for the time being: his opponent is just as much of a clown.

Anyway it's no secret the WWF had a drug and steroid 'problem' in the 90s--so maybe what I'm about to say is a little too easy. Doink went through several iterations, i.e. several people had to play Doink, in no small part because the act of playing Doink seems to have taken a fuckload outta dudes. It must have been really intense; you really just can't give a fuck about anything if you want to do this character right. Self-preservation is not in your storyline. Matt Osborne, the first Doink, supposedly got shitcanned for frequent junk abuse, and then the gimmick went through three more dudes before fading out. Nihilism as a stage gimmick (and as a movie gimmick) is arresting but exhausting and ultimately boring--the unpredictable wraps around and becomes predictable again.

But I like what happened afterwards: The Doink costume became shorthand for "I am going to do something completely against all rules, and yet I will suffer no consequences for my action": Chris Jericho suited up as Doink several years later, for instance, and of course ECW took on Doink for a minute after he made his way through WWF. Except! Except ECW--supposedly the most extreme of the wrestling circuits--fundamentally couldn't handle the extreme anti-logic of Doink's character, and they storylined Matt Osborne out of Doink, which they slammed as mere gimmick. Shane Douglas told the clown to stop clowning around. He was too good of a wrestler.

1 comment:

peter said...

Do you watch Metalocalypse? Dr. Rockso:

http://www.lab1663.net/images/dr_rockso.jpg