There is one good reason Cody Sosebee has been nominated five times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year.
He’s funny.
“I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if people don’t buy into you, they’re not going to buy what you’re selling,” said Andy Stewart, a ProRodeo announcer who will be the voice of the American Royal PRCA Rodeo this year. “That’s where Cody is one of the best; he’s such a likeable guy. What you see in the arena is him all the time. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself.”
That’s a key ingredient that Sosebee brings to the table at this year’s rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at Hale Arena inside the American Royal complex.
“Maybe someone in the crowd is feeling bad about themselves, maybe their job or their body or their marriage,” Stewart said. “When Cody steps into the arena, he’s making fun of himself and cracking jokes about the problem he’s having. People tend to relax and think, ‘I feel comfortable with him; he’s just like us.’
“Through making fun of himself, we’re laughing at ourselves. That’s a very unique trait that he has that makes him a really special clown.”
This isn’t the first time Sosebee has worked the American Royal. In fact, he’s been a regular at some of the biggest events in the country, including rodeos in Cheyenne, Wyo.; Dodge City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; and the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede.
In addition to his clowning nomination, the former competitor also has been nominated for the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year two of the past three seasons. But there’s much more to Sosebee than meets the eye. Over his lifetime, he’s competed in nearly every rodeo event possible and was at the top of his game in bareback riding.
It’s part of the life growing up in a family that was heavily involved in rodeo. His father was a pickup man, so Sosebee has been part of the sport as long as he can remember.
“I got into clowning by accident by filling in for guys,” said Sosebee, who also owns a barbecue restaurant in his hometown of Charleston, Ark., just 25 miles east of Fort Smith, Ark. “I didn’t know where I was going to go with my rodeo career when I quit riding barebacks, and it turned into a good living. I get to see the world.
“I live in a community with one four-way stop, and I get to go to a lot of other great places where as soon as you pull into town, you are considered a rock star for a week.”
A born competitor, the clown has made the adjustments he needed to get the true fix after a lifetime of being part of the contest.
“I’ve always been a competitor in anything I did, from football to basketball to when I was in freestyle bullfighting,” he said. “I miss putting my hand in the riggin’ and nodding my head to be 80 points to win the rodeo, but I’m a realist. I’m 43 years old. While most of the guys I rodeoed with have slowed down and have found jobs, I get to be in the arena and get to make a living in rodeo doing something I love.”
Sosebee also plays to his strengths. Bigger than many in the game, he showcases a true athleticism that is rarely seen among men of his stature. It’s comedy at the purest level.
“Having the ability to laugh at myself is probably my biggest strength,” he said. “I don’t take anything too serious. When I’m watching a comedian, the funniest thing I see is when they’re honestly open and having a good time. I want the fans to see that I’m a real person and I’m having fun, and they can have fun with me.”
That’s why Sosebee has excelled as one of the premier rodeo clowns in the game. That’s why the volunteer committee is bringing him to town. It’s another key reason the American Royal is always at the top of the game.