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Friday, December 19, 2014

Teacher quits to be entertainer

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By Junfu Han / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Professional Bull Riders entertainer Flint Rassmesen puts makeup on Saturday night before the second day of the 16th Ty Murray Invitational. Rassmesen used to be a high school math and history teacher in Montana. This is his 15th time coming to Albuquerque.

Flint Rasmussen gets paid to don clown makeup, dance the Cotton-Eyed Joe and sing Justin Bieber songs in front of crowds up to 10,000 people.

“I am living the dream,” he said. “You name it, I am living it.”
Rasmussen is the entertainer for the Professional Bull Riders circuit, which means he entertains crowds wherever the show goes.

In addition to the makeup, he wears shoes with his name on the sides, a cowboy hat and usually a jersey and mesh shorts. He often tells jokes, dances or goes into the bleachers to interact with the audience.

Rasmussen is only seen at the live events, though. His primary function is to entertain audiences during scheduled commercial breaks.

The PBR comes to Albuquerque every year, and that means Rasmussen comes along every year, too.

And every year, he’s met with a solid Albuquerque fan base.

In the crowd in The Pit, adults and children alike sport the blue and white Rasmussen jersey. Some even painted clown makeup on their faces like the entertainer. Rusty Greer, whose son wore one of the jerseys, said his son told him he wanted “a jersey of the funny man.”

PBR attendee Rob Mitchell wore both the makeup and the jersey because he said that like Rasmussen, he’s a loud guy.

“I like to be up and make a lot of noise and have fun and stuff,” Mitchell said. “All my friends were like, ‘you could do this,’ and I was like, ‘I probably could.’”

Last year, Mitchell said he got to dance with Rasmussen on stage after he dressed up and brought a neon-colored sign to get Rasmussen’s attention. Rasmussen said the job is harder than it looks.

“If you don’t know what’s going on and you’re out there trying to be funny, you’ll get killed,” he said.

Rasmussen got into the field because he thought he could do better than the rodeo clowns he saw perform.

To do better, or do the job at all, requires quick feet and quick thinking, he said. Rasmussen said he writes some ideas down on his hand, but he also comes up with material on the spot.

For example, on Saturday night a man came down from the crowd and started dancing next to Rasmussen during a commercial break.

Rasmussen danced right along and joked about the incident the rest of the night. He said these types of events are more unusual to the crowd than to him.

“We have seen so many things,” he said. “We have a response to things but we can act like it’s the first time we have seen it.”
Rasmussen was also quick to note that his work is a team effort.

He said his sound man and bull fighters make him look good.

Rasmussen said he uses techniques he learned in his college drama classes for his performance. In addition, he said his time as a teacher helped him to understand how to keep people’s attention.

Rasmussen worked as a teacher immediately following college, during which time he worked as a rodeo clown in the summer and some weekends. He then quit his teaching job has worked in the business full time ever since. He even met his wife, a barrel racer, through his touring, and now his 13-year-old daughter also barrel races. Even his father was a rodeo announcer. He said this lifestyle tends to run in families.

“I think it’s hard to come into this sport cold at 25 and try to learn it,” he said.

Rasmussen has worked with PBR since 1998 and has begun to consider retirement, but he said it’s hard to leave a job he enjoys as much as this one.

“I still have the moments every night when I do something, and inside I am going, ‘that was good,’” he said. “It’s complete satisfaction that I did my job really well.”