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Costumed Character Etiquette

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Arsenal Football Club mascot Gunnersaurus is quizzed on the pitch.

There is a somewhat unsavoury phenomenon occurring regularly at theme parks and other establishments or venues where costumed characters can be found which many people find bemusing. Upon coming face-to-face with a sports mascot or cartoon character, normally sane human beings suffer some sort of breakdown in their moral and ethical behaviour. They feel the need to poke and touch while spouting demeaning inanities.

This is not to imply empathy for the character's situation is completely lost - studies show three out of five people will immediately find it necessary, upon encountering one of these characters to comment on how hot said costume wearer must be. It can be something as simple as 'It must be hot in there'. It could also be something more complicated such as 'I hope you have air conditioning in there... I had to wear a mascots outfit... The Fighting Doberman back in high school and it was so hot my eyebrows fused together' You get the idea.

As much as the costume wearer may appreciate the empathy, hearing this repetitive garbage every five minutes is, at best, annoying. Don't think you are original or novel, it's all been said before. The performer will feel more appreciated if you smile, offer good wishes, join in the fun, whatever, as long as your behaviour is unthreatening.

Staying in Character

For most performers staying in character is uppermost in his/her mind. They are bemused when someone treats them otherwise. It is also rude. You do not go to a theatrical production of Hamlet to shout at the main character, 'Hey, Hamlet! Isn't your real name Bill?' or 'So, Hammie, do you get paid enough for this?' The costumed character or mascot is there to entertain you just the same as any other performer or entertainer is. And yes, while they are often paid, the reimbursement is always paltry.

Look, Don't Touch

Never, ever, assault a person in costume. Don't even do so playfully. How many strangers do you go up to on the street and punch in the belly? How many celebrities do you walk up to and give a big bear hug then try and knock down? Do you pinch people as you walk around in a mall? Do you allow your children to approach a stranger and start kicking and jabbing at them, or grab at their face, or hang on their arms and legs? Of course you don't. You are all civilised people. For some reason, though, people think they can get away with this sort of behaviour when it comes to a costumed character. It's ridiculous. There is a person inside that costume, the costume is probably not entirely comfortable to begin with and a physical assault can sometimes be amplified, pain-wise, by the costume itself. It's not nice.

The Ground Rules

  • Be happy and entertained. Don't sympathise - they know their situation.

  • Treat them as the character they portray. They take the time to portray it for you, respect that.

  • Do not attack them or be rough with them. That's a real person inside there.

Also, you should remember this important fact. Fully enclosed costumes conceal the wearer. What does this mean? This means that while you have no idea who's in the costume, they know exactly what you look like. They will remember you.

Oh yes, they will remember...

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