Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Paid Clowns

Not all the clowns in the world wear make-up and perform in circuses or children's parties.

Some we elect into office ...

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Mix clowns, circus performers and music and you have spectacle. Often creepy spectacle. 

But every once in a while it can be effective.

Not often ... but once in a while.

And yes: The clown doctor in the video, while showcased only briefly, is still disturbing. Put yourself in the patient's place and tell me otherwise ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dear Madam Barnum

Despite my elevated dislike for clowns (which has been evident for quite some time) there are, as with most rules, exceptions. And most effectively so where clowns are not presented in vulgar distaste.

One such such example tells a charming but sad tale of a charlatan working in a circus who is on the outs and ready to resign his station. The story is presented by one of my all-time favorites bands - XTC - from their 1992 album Nonsuch.

Too often clowns send shivers. In this particular case, you are simultaneously pleased and saddened at this clown's position.

Please enjoy. I do each time I hear this tune.

I put on a fake smile
And start the evening show
The public is laughing
I guess by now they know
So climb from your high horse
And pull this freak show down
Dear Madam Barnum
I resign as clown
You said I was the master of all I surveyed
But now I'm sweeping up
The last in line in your circus parade
Children are clapping
As I fall to the floor
My heart's torn and broken
And they just scream for more
If I'm not the sole fool
Who pulls his trousers down
Then dear Madam Barnum
I resign as clown
You tread the high wire
Between truth and lies
Your safety net just walked out
Much to your surprise
Strike up the band Love
And let the show begin
For this is the last time
I'm painting on a grin
If I'm not the sole fool
Who pulls his trousers down
Then dear Madam Barnum
I resign as clown

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th Of July ... Sans Clowns

Remember folks: No clowning around on the 4th of July. Let's all stay safe out there.

And keep in mind there isn't room for clowns in any of your Independence Day Parades, either.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Clown Tuesday

Happy Clown "Twos"-Day ...

Here's hoping you can go to sleep tonight without this image burying into your slumber ...

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Little Clown History

Joseph Gimaldi

"Even the people who are supposed to like clowns — children — supposedly don’t. In 2008, a widely reported University of Sheffield, England, survey of 250 children between the ages of four and 16 found that most of the children disliked and even feared images of clowns."

I mentioned previously at the start of this blog that, as these pages bounded along, there would be the occasional light shed as to some of the reasons why clowns could or might cause concern and uneasiness.

And here we go. The Smithsonian's Linda Rodriguez McRobbie wrote an enlightening article about a year ago, The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary, that's a pretty interesting read. Her piece does a better job than I could do in summation, delving into not only the history of the characters but some of the mindset and disposition of them as well. From Joseph Gimaldi to Jean-Gaspard Deburau's Pierrot to the Italian opera Pagliacci to Emmett Kelly to John Wayne Gacy and even Bozo and Ronald McDonald, there's a lot to absorb and quickly conclude about these painted entertainers.

Jean-Gaspard Deburau as Pierrot

It's a good article. But the information it contains doesn't shine a good light on clowns as a whole. As a matter of fact, it reinforces the their dark sides.

"Adult clown phobics are unsettled by the clown’s face-paint and the inability to read genuine emotion on a clown’s face, as well as the perception that clowns are able to engage in manic behavior, often without consequences."

Most of the information in the piece I've been aware of for some time. Still, reading it as it is, laid out in one big, informative lump, only underlines and bolsters the misgivings and uncertainty
not to mention out and out fear we exhibit toward clowns.

One of Gacy's portaits of his alter ego "Pogo"

If you didn't trust them before, you certainly will take exception to them after you digest the article. 

Or ... simply take heed of the words of David Kiser, director of talent for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: 

"... clowns have always had a dark side ..."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bud And His (Possibly Demonic) Wooden Clown Puppet

What do you think: Should we just leave this strange looking clown and its owner (?) here and wonder about it a bit?

Hokay ... that's enough wondering.

Now? Let's get to the questions:

  • I assume the gentleman on the left is Bud?
  • And, in so assuming, why does Poopsie have an upside-down crucifix on its forehead?
  • A puppet that's a clown: That's an automatic two strikes against it ... right?

Three questions are plenty for me. I'm certain there are lots more. 

Go ahead ... ask away ...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Silent ... But Still Menacing

Clowns have been around a long, long time. (We'll touch on their history in another post later.)

One of those (in)famous clowns of old is back in the spotlight courtesy of a found series of silent comedy shorts, a
long-missing stock of American films recently rediscovered in Amsterdam of all places. Many of those shorts encompass Max Fleischer's "Out Of The Inkwell" series of cartoons from the early 1920s.

With these films scheduled to be restored and preserved from their nitrate originals, one in particular got the jump as the first to be revamped. Which film got the honor? Fleischer's 1926 cartoon "Koko's Queen" featuring Koko the Clown. As a matter of fact, per the article, it even got showcased at a recent public screening.

Sure ... let's restore some old clown footage. That's just what we need to get June underway.

The reason I bring this up? For the simple fact of the image used in the noted article, a rather eerie shot of the clown.

Regardless of Koko's off center stance in the image, he nevertheless strikes an odd figure. Strangely positioned hands (one of which only contains 3 fingers) are prominently featured. Vertical slits for eyes hide some unknowable demeanor. And that ear-to-ear grin harbors some unsung, seemingly devious motive.

Look at that picture above - what I described is exactly what's jumping out of it. Is it any wonder Koko's "queen" is looking away from him and appears not to want anything whatsoever to do with him?

Which only goes to show: Even silent, the clowns of old held a threat of possible menace.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Send In The Clowns ...


They're just no good.

Quite often, in fact, they're downright bad. You don't want them near you (Why would you?), they're often creepy looking and even thinking about them gives people the willies.

Many fear them. Yes, sometimes it's an irrational fear ... but it's a fear nevertheless. In the presence of clowns, children have been known to break into hysterical fits. Adults as well. Even dogs shy away from them.

I've seen or have come across too, too many clowns in print ads or posted on line looking as if they're up to something sinister. Part of people's revulsion is that those acts aren't necessarily obvious. There seems to be something underlying about the way they appear. It's the air about them ... it exudes creepiness. Simply seeing a clown portrait hanging on a wall can set your mind atwitter. And in real life? Up close and personal? *shudder* For the life of me I cannot recall a single instance where I've crossed a clown's path and anything good came of it ... or even that it was any kind of a pleasant experience.

You might ask: With all the unease they seem to bring forth, why start writing and posting about them, then? Because there is a contingent of people out there who think there's nothing wrong with them, nothing to fear about clowns:

"Clowns aren't creepy! They're clowns! They're here to entertain us, to make us laugh ... not to scare us!"

It's not that I harbor any skepticism about the above statement. As a matter of fact, there is no skepticism about it in the least: The statement is simply out and out false.

Subsequent pages of this blog are going to shed light on clowns and show a few of the reasons they cause concern and disquietude. It will showcase their scariness and the manner in which they surround themselves with uncomfortableness. Maybe there's something beneath that pancake makeup that's not quite right. Some will say it's because clowns have something to hide. Those painted-on faces hide something underneath. It's quite possible that "underneath" could be why there's such vehemence shown toward them. Could it be those sometimes-too-wide eyes suggest they really don't have any soul behind them?

Others feel there could be some diabolical bent within them and that's why they loathe them. Or it could be something else entirely. Honking a nose in a Bugs Bunny cartoon? Not a problem. A honking clown nose, both figuratively and literally? Different situation all together.
Understand: I'm not one of those who has an all-consuming fear of clowns. But that doesn't mean I don't find them creepy. Because I do ... and they are

In future posts, we'll explore all sorts of things regarding clowns and coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) - what makes them tick, why they're as freaky as they appear to be and what makes our hair stand on end when we see or think about them. They're supposed to make us laugh and feel good with their antics but, instead, they make us cringe. Sure, they laugh ... but man, is that laughter ever forced. Why? Those clothes ... those stripes and polka dots: Are they meant to be colorful and gay? Or are they there to daze us for some reason?

You never know ... moving forward we might even learn something worthy about clowns. Though, for the life of me, I have no idea what that could be ...

"... clowns are universally disliked by children.
Some found clown images to be quite frightening ..."
- Dr. Penny Curtis, researcher