Almost 10 years ago, Mohd Fadly Abu Hasan underwent a radical change in career, giving up a stable job as the operating director of an electrical company to pursue his true passion for magic and sleight of hand – by becoming a clown.
For a decade, he spent his weekdays working at his family-owned company and his weekends attending events and activities with clown shows in order to pick up new techniques.
“I began going to Dataran Shah Alam to perform small shows of my own for free, to practise the techniques I had learnt and to improve my interaction with my audiences,” he said.
In 2013, he finally took the leap, leaving his job to become Awang the Clown full-time.
But right from the start, he faced challenges, especially in getting the blessing of his parents for his drastic career change. Fadly, who has a diploma in accounting, had been raised in a family which valued education, and his parents were none too pleased with his decision.
“Naturally, they were upset when I told them that I wanted to be a clown,” he recalled.
“But I pressed on with my dream anyway.”
For him, the disapproval came as no surprise.
“Society is always cynical about clowns, associating them with things that are bad, silly, stupid or even unethical,” he said.
But eventually, his determination began bearing fruit and invitations to events throughout the country started pouring in.
His small business thrived, to the point where he could no longer handle all of the functions on his own and he decided that it was time to bring in more clowns.
There are now four clowns, including Fadly, under the Awang the Clown brand name.
Being a clown isn’t just a barrel of laughs, though.
“You need to have discipline and patience in addition to the necessary skillset,” Fadly said.
He and his clown colleagues worked hard, and little by little, they overcame the challenges before them.
But for Fadly, the sweetest success of all came quite suddenly, when one day out of the blue, his parents turned up at his show.
After their long opposition to his chosen career, their presence, to him, meant that they had finally begun to accept and support his decision.
“For a child, the blessing of your parents is very important,” he said.
“That was why I worked so hard to prove that being a clown is actually a noble career, and that there’s nothing trivial about it.”
And while it might appear as though his education was put to waste, Fadly says he has actually learnt a lot of very practical lessons as a clown.
“It’s not just about entertainment,” he said. “It’s also about being a good entrepreneur.”
His advice for those looking to become entrepreneurs themselves is not to give up, but to keep going and to think outside of the box.
“If you are thinking about venturing into a field, make sure you are driven by passion and interest,” he said.
“Only then will you remain enthusiastic amid all of the challenges that you face.”