DODGE CITY, Kan. – John Harrison has worked many of the largest events in ProRodeo over his years as an entertainer – first as a trick rider, now as a rodeo clown and funnyman.
He’s never worked the biggest rodeo in Kansas, the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug-Sunday, Aug. 8, at Roundup Arena; Dodge City Xtreme Bulls is set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3.
“Dodge City is one of those legendary rodeos you hear about,” said Harrison, 42, of Soper, Oklahoma. “It’s a special rodeo to get to work. It’s one of the great ones. Anytime you get an opportunity to work one of the great ones, you’re just blessed.”
Harrison is more than blessed; he’s also talented. He comes by it quite naturally, but he’s also worked at it. It takes a special determination to become proficient at trick riding, and he toured the country for years doing so. In fact, he was part of the opening act at the National Finals Rodeo as a trick rider before he transitioned to the comedic side of rodeo. He’s so good at it that he’s been recognized for his talents. He’s been named the Coors Man in the Can and the Comedy Act of the Year, and he’s served as the NFR’s barrelman six times in the last eight years.
“We’ve seen and heard about John for a few years, and we’re very excited to be able to bring him to Dodge City this year,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, president of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “John has a great list of accomplishments, and we believe he will add a different flavor of comedy for our rodeo.”
The grandson of 1962 world champion bull rider Freckles Brown, he has incorporated part of his trick riding into comedy, and it’s one reason why he’s been recognized as a top comedy act in ProRodeo. Add to that a natural southern drawl with his distinct humor, and it’s easy to see why rodeo fans have clamored to see him at work.
“My clowning has evolved quite a bit,” Harrison said. “I never worked any amateur rodeos, because I already had my PRCA card with trick riding, so I didn’t have any chance to work on my clowning before I started doing it.
“That transition the first few years was tough.”
He’s no longer transitioning. When the schedule allows, he travels the rodeo trail with his family, including his wife, Carla, and their children. In fact, Roundup will be the last rodeo he will work with his family in tow; they will return to southeastern Oklahoma so the kids can return to school.
Like everyone, Harrison is happy to be back at his job of making people laugh. The cancelations from COVID-19 had negative impact on his business, but he’s seeing the blessings now.
“It hit us hard,” he said. “We found out how non-essential rodeo clowns are. I’m blessed with the ones that were still going on and needed a clown. This year, every rodeo I’ve been to is up as far as its crowd. It’s crazy. People are wanting out of the house and doing something as a community. It’s great for me as an entertainer, because they make my job easier. They are ready to let their hair down and get wild. That makes it fun.” That’s good news for the people who make their way to the biggest rodeo in Kansas.