Props to the lovely Bethany, in Berkeley, California who recently asked her readers to identify their favorite television moments on her blog site (hers had to do with a humorous assault by a few very agitated clowns!). She received several great responses (that you'll just have to go check out for yourself!) but so excellent was the concept I just couldn't resist swiping my own comments from the post and expanding on them here. They were spun from the same clown motif.
I, like many people, have an aberrant love/hate/fear response issue going on with those painted jesters of tragi-comedic folly. All colorfully done up to make us laugh my ass! The very nature of the clown is to poke fun at life's absurdity. It goes to reason that the clown was invented to sweeten the otherwise bitter (and oftentimes serrated) gallows humor pill that life has to offer. That's one interpretation anyway...
Somewhere along the line these gullible, gleeful guardians of guffaw translated into pure evil for me. I'm not afraid of clowns, per se, I'm just terrified of their symbolism. It must have germinated sometime after seeing either a Twilight Zone episode or some Outer Limits show as a kid. The story line was based on one gentleman's pathetic life as a clown: alcoholic, poverty stricken and disease ridden until meeting a sad and lonely death right after his one final performance. Yeah, the whole 'masks we wear in life' thing all gone awry.
I believe the title of that episode might even have been called "Always Leave Them Laughing".
But I digress.
I've gone ahead and thrown in a few other clownish contemplations to the clown cart conversation since... feel free to add your own afterwards:
- Favorite clown in a movie remains the 'Poltergeist' clown scene where the kid looks under his bed to find out his toy doll clown has come to life as a possessed freak-out clown and attacks him. The boy goes on to literally tear the stuffing out of it.
- Favorite clown art is anything by Margaret Keane the godmother of the "big-round-eyed" creepy child paintings. Our neighbors had like six of these hanging all over their house. I always hated when they asked us to take care of their cats; those paintings always gave me the willies! I cannot find an image of "Randy the Clown" on-line, surprisingly, but if you come across it you'll know exactly what I mean!
- Favorite clown short story (though not technically a clown but more court jester) remains Edgar Allen Poe's Hop Frog: Or, The Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs where our unlikely hero, and rather dwarfish protagonist, lights his tormentors on fire with the "waxen drippings" of an overhead cauldron of molten tar! Bravo.
- Favorite clown urban legend definitely goes to the disgruntled kid myth on the 'Bozo The Clown Show'. The story goes that after uttering an expletive by failing to win a prize during a live program the young boy was met with Bozo's reprimand, "Uh-oh, that's a Bozo-No-No." The kid responded with this gem, "Aww, cram it, Clowny!" Apparently, this never actually happened but many viewers during the era swore they saw that very broadcast. Either way, it rocks my clown curdled world.
- Favorite personal clown moment was at 'Spooky World' in Foxborough, Massachusetts one October. My friend, Diane, had (rather un-strategically I might add!) mentioned to me before entering the 'Haunted Mansion' together how much she was terrified of clowns. So, of course, I said REALLY LOUDLY, "Diane, you're afraid of clowns!?!". Right on cue a half dozen scary mutant clowns came out of nowhere and assaulted her while screaming, "DIANE'S AFRAID OF CLOWNS!? DIANE'S AFRAID OF CLOWNS!?" That was classic. She has never forgiven me to this day.
Favorite clown introduction was actually meeting a Ronald McDonald at a sporting event when I was reporting for the NPR radio show 'Only A Game'! I even managed to ask him a fairly charged question for tape and it really pissed him off... again, angry scary clown does nothing to help own cause.
- Favorite quote about a clown: "Most people think clowns are funny, but I've always thought they're kind of scary. I think it goes back to when I was at the circus when I was a kid, and a clown shot my Dad." -- Jack Handey
- Favorite TV show where, ironically, I laughed the hardest at a clown was the "Funeral of Chuckles the Clown" (again see above) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This scene still cracks me up to no end. If you've never watched it check it out - it's hysterical!
- Favorite clown T-Shirt: "Can't Sleep Clowns Will Eat Me" worn by our mechanic back in Boston. Love that shirt.
- John Wayne Gacy is the scariest clown of them all...and my least favorite.
- I couldn't possibly end this post without at least a brief mention of the classic Stephen King horror novel, "It". The story takes clowns to a whole new level... Pennywise, pound foolish.