Getting old usually isn’t a laughing matter. But in a quiet neighborhood in Lima, Peru, one 91-year-old man known as Pitito the clown is still yukking it up.
Ricardo Farfan puts on his costume ahead of his 91st birthday party, inside his home in Lima, Peru. | (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Each morning, Ricardo Farfan takes out a tattered old notebook and reviews page after page of jokes and clowning moves — a written history of his life in the circus, which began in 1927, when Farfan was just three years old.
“In my father’s circus, I was a clown, magician, tightrope walker, trapeze artist, stilt-walker, electrician, and painter,” Farfan tells The Associated Press. “I was able to do three consecutive mortal jumps, I was very agile. Now, from so many jumps and falls my joints hurt.”
LEFT: A photograph of Ricardo Farfan shows him as a performer with the Farfan Brothers Circus in 1954. RIGHT: Farfan dons his clown makeup today. | (AP Photos/Esteban Felix)
Farfan covers his pet canaries in the late afternoon on his patio in Lima. | (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Farfan inherited the family business — the Farfan Brothers Circus — but he was forced to shutter the enterprise in 1990 so he could care for his wife. While the big tent may have folded, Farfan’s clowning is as active as ever. He receives fewer performance requests than he used to, but Farfan keeps his act sharp by dressing up regularly and performing for an audience of one — his wife Maria.
Farfan hugs his wife Maria. | (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
After so many decades, you might think Farfan would be ready to hang up his wigs and pack up his oversized suits. But he says it’s just not in his nature to live without trying for a laugh.
“I will only stop clowning on the day I die,” Farfan says.
Farfan points to himself standing on stilts in a picture from the 1950s, noting that “working at the circus allows you to travel the country, meet new people, customs and food.” | (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Farfan dances with his daughter, Carmen. Farfan raised his four children in the circus he inherited from his father. Although none of them took over the circus, his son in Italy performs as a clown on weekends. | (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Farfan paints his face ahead of a performance. | (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
A pair of clown shoes sit in Farfan’s home — waiting for their next show. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)