A year after he graduated from Syracuse University, Roger Reed realized he really didn't want to be a photojournalist.
He thought about what he'd rather do with his life, and one idea kept coming back to him.
I thought, I want to make people laugh, Reed said.
He's been doing that for more than 30 years now as Roger the Jester. Reed will bring his alter ego to Albany on Tuesday, April 6, as part of the April Vacation Daze program at Steamer No. 10 Theatre. He will perform at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Reed admits he wasn't sure he could make a career out of making people laugh. But he decided to take a chance, enrolling in mime school in Maine. He made a conscious decision not to go to clown school.
"I'm not very enamored with the American clown," he said.
Clowns, Reed said, are kind of the "bottom of the ladder" in terms of American comedy. They've been pigeonholed as people who wear lots of makeup and big, floppy shoes. They're loud and brash, and they make fun of their audience.
"I didn't want to do any of that," he said.
In high school, he and a friend would pick a prop and silently improvise with it. He had experience using physical movement for comedic value. That's one of the reasons mime school seemed like a good idea.
When he graduated, he landed a job as a singing waiter at a ski resort. Several fellow mime school graduates were also there, and they formed a traveling mime company. Reed did that for a while, but when the group broke up, he decided to reinvent himself.
He knew he needed a name, and he certainly didn't want to go by Roger the Clown, even though, "bottom line, I'm a clown," he said with a laugh. He figured if he called himself a mime, people would expect him to be silent and dress in black. He didn't have enough tricks in his repertoire to call himself a magician, and his juggling and singing skills weren't sharp enough to call himself a juggler or a musician.