I may "clown around", but I'm no clown, however I may be able to help you & Cathy with a bit of information on adding puppetry to your storytelling. There is another Ning network called Puppet Hub & I moderate a Group there called Out Front with My Puppet. It has Storytellers, Ventriloquists, Magicians, & others who don't stay behind a stage for their puppetry. They don't have Ning in the web-address, but go to http://www.puppethub.com. Hope that helps.
Here on P.S. we have a group that comes close to both puppetry &, possibly, clowning: Movement, Masks, Props and Much More.