Q&A: Why This Copywriter Brought a 'Support Clown' to His Firing Meeting

Josh Thompson on his viral stunt

You've probably heard this story by now. A copywriter at FCB New Zealand brought a clown with him to a meeting where he expected to be (and was) laid off. The clown blew up balloons and folded them into animals during the meeting, then mimed crying when the layoff paperwork was presented, reports the New Zealand Herald.

The writer's name is Josh Thompson. Employers in New Zealand are legally required to tell staffers they can bring a "support person" to any meeting where they're being let go. When FCB told Thompson to bring someone along, he assumed the worst—but figured bringing a clown would at least lighten the mood. 

"I thought it was best to bring in a professional, so I paid $200 and hired a clown," he told Magic Talk radio.

The meeting went about as well as these things can go, though "it was rather noisy, him making balloon animals, so we had to tell him to be quiet from time to time," Thompson said of his clown friend. 

The stunt has made headlines worldwide, and the whole episode ended well for Thompson, who has started a new job at DDB Auckland. 

Muse emailed with Thompson to ask him more details about the gag. 

Muse: When FCB told you to bring a "support person," what made you think of a clown? 

Josh Thompson: Friends and family are great, but when it comes to keeping spirits high, clowns are professionals. My mum can't even juggle.

Was this some kind of performance art, or just a fun way to lighten up a bleak moment? 

Yeah nah just thought it'd be funny, that's pretty much it.

What did you tell the clown before the meeting? 

"Ride together, die together. Bad bois for life x"

How did the FCB folks react? 

They got a free show from one of the best clowns in the biz (business). What's not to love? 

Was it distracting, having the clown making the balloon animals? 

The distraction was just what I needed. As well as a job. And $200 so I could pay him.

What do you make of the story going viral? 

I think the story is fun, but the reason it really took off was the use of an influencer—me. It's a wonder that E! still haven't published those topless photos I accidentally sent them. 

Does this show how creative you can be when backed into a corner? 

I think more than creativity, I relied on the data—it told me that people like fun things. So shoutout to that.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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