From Bull Fightin’ to Clowin’
Kent "Woody" Porter started in the business fighting bulls. “One night me and a guy named Scooter were fighting bulls together. It was a tough show. Scooter split his lip and broke his nose. I broke my hand and something else,” Woody said. “We went to get paid, sitting at the fair waiting for the stockman contractor to come pay us our money. In walked the rodeo clown. He wasn’t even dirty. All happy go lucky. Nothing hurt. The contractor paid us and then paid the clown twice as much. I said I wanted his job. The contactor said, 'Good. You’ve got it next week.' That is how I became a rodeo clown.”
Woody has been a rodeo clown for over 18 years. He has had broken legs, broken arms, broken fingers, broken hands, broken ribs, suffered concussions, had his teeth kicked out, his head split open and even had his ear ripped off. “A bronc rider got hung up on a bucking horse and couldn’t get off,” Woody said. “I ran up beside him and jumped on the horse. I got his hand out, but I couldn’t just drop him or the horse would run over him. The pick up man came in and choked the horse to the fence. So, I handed him across to the pick up man. I was stuck up between the horses. The pick up man let go of the horses. When the bronc left, he kicked. We all laid there in a heap for a while.” When Woody got up, he was missing an ear. The horse had kicked it off. But despite all this, Woody attested, “It’s still fun. On average, you get hurt every hundredth time. That’s not bad.”
A rodeo clown’s job is to keep the crowd entertained during down times between events and to keep things flowing. While events are being set up and taken down or during a problem, rodeo clowns have to keep the crowd entertained. “My job is just to go out there, tell my jokes, help the announcer out during the slow times, and if the bull fighters need any help I’ll go out and help them,” Woody added. “Sometimes it isn’t as easy as it looks. Basically, you just have to go out there and make a fool of yourself for two hours.” Sometimes Woody has had to keep the crowd entertained for as long as ten minutes while an accident has been cleared. One day, after 18 years of work, Woody decided to retire. He didn’t even talk to anyone about rodeo for a year. Someone asked him to attend a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) rodeo the second year. He decided to go. “I had to help that rodeo clown. So, I decided to get back into it,” he said. Woody has been working rodeos full time again for about a year now.
Woody and his wife have booked tours all over the country and even some exotic places including South America, Brazil and Mexico. Woody’s wife helps book the shows, helps drive, helps with the acts and gets everything ready.
“I can stay out in the arena while she gets the act ready. Most of the time she is a part of the acts,” Woody said. “She also rides barrels.”
Woody was raised around horses in Ponca City, Okla. “There was a ranch beside where I grew up. The cowboys who worked the ranch all rodeoed at the 101 Ranch Rodeo. They took me with them when they went,” he said. Woody was five years old then. “I got to where I just loved it.” Woody got to see Matt Dillon and Festus at the rodeo. He even saw John Wayne.
Woody is on the board of a website called Rodeo Attitude, which is centered around rodeo and western lifestyles. “Contractors can look at the website and your profile. They can see how many finals you’ve done and what kind of work you do,” Woody said. “It helps people (rodeo clowns, announcers, photographers) get jobs.”
Woody is also on the board of Trails for Kids. Trails for Kids is an annual fund raising program for cerebral palsy involving 400 horses. The trail ride goes through a lot of the territory Jessie James traveled.
Rodeo has definitely been apart of this bull fighter turned rodeo clown's life for years, and at this point, he says he plans on it being part of it for many years to come.