GREAT FALLS — When it comes to rodeo clowns, Montana has some produced some good ones. Names like Flint Rasmussen and Dave Whitmoyer come to mind. But there’s one clown lighting up arenas around the state, and making his case as the next Montana legend.
And he’s only 11 years old.
Great Falls native “Joker” Jett Lorang is the featured clown act for several Northern Rodeo Association events across the state and he’s quickly turning into a crowd favorite. After training under a few more experienced clowns since he was 9 years old, Jett has been turned loose at rodeos in Gardiner, Choteau and more this year.
“I used to mutton bust at Conrad rodeo, and that’s how it all go started,” Jett said. “Then I started doing acts with other bigger rodeo clowns and then I just started from there. Actually, I wanted to be a bullfighter, but Mom said that was too dangerous, so I ended up being a rodeo clown with a barrel.”
It helps that Jett was raised around rodeo – his grandpa is University of Providence rodeo coach Dick Lyman, his dad is rodeo announcer Larry Lorang. He’s a fifth-generation member of the famous Jacobs Rodeo and Livestock Company, so Jett was destined for the arena since he was old enough to paint his face.
“He was always infatuated with the clowns,” Larry said. “He was drawn to the clowns and the bullfighters since he was a little tiny kid and he was dressing up as a rodeo clown. I’d made him a tiny little barrel when he was 2 or 3 and he’d stand on that barrel in our living room. He always liked the clowns.”
While most kids his age have a closet full of toys, Jett’s is full of oversized pants, props for his act and a homemade joke book.
“Some of them me, my dad and my mom came up with,” Jett said. “Others we just went on kid joke sites on the internet.”
As any comic or clown will tell you, making people laugh is hard work. But for Jett it comes naturally.
“We practice different jokes,” Larry said. “But there’s still a lot of things he says that are just off the cuff, quick wit that even catch me off guard. He’s got that in him. You still got to remember he’s just a little kid, so there’s times when maybe the train gets off the tracks a little bit. But he’s getting much better at that.”
And while the entire audience is focused on Jett, he likes to do his job one laugh at a time.
“When I’m in the arena, I try to focus on one person and get them to laugh,” Jett said. “And then when I get them to laugh I switch to another person to try and get them to laugh. And it’s really fun when you get someone who doesn’t really like to laugh because then you have to break out one of the better jokes to get them to laugh.”
Rodeos are a family affair for the Lorang family. With Larry in the announcer’s booth and Jett in the arena, mother Lacy is never far off. And when Jett needs help or assistants for his acts he uses his sister Livia or one his many cousins.
But what does the future hold for the young funny man? Jett hopes to entertain crowds in the PRCA once he turns 18, and his parents are encouraging him to follow his dreams wherever they lead.
“He’s 11, that’s pretty young to be making a decision for a lifelong career,” Larry said. “But, you know, he’s pretty good at it, and he really enjoys it, and I’m just like, ‘Let’s let him do it as long as he wants to and see where it goes.’”
One event at a time, with a lot of laughs along the way.