Most children love going to the circus and being entertained by funny clowns of all shapes and sizes who make them laugh. The principal types of clowns are the “whiteface”, just that, ie., it uses clown white makeup to cover the face and neck, and is more sophisticated, sometimes seen wearing the ruffled collar. They are also called the “sad clown”. I have a small clown doll on my shelf which will show you what I mean:
The ‘auguste” face usually has the mouth and eyes thickly outlined in white. Usually his costume is either too big or too small and his role is being confused or foolish. To give you an idea of what an auguste clown, also known as the “happy clown” would look like, I’d like to show you my Capo di Monte clown which I purchased in Venice many years ago. It has great attention to detail. First, let’s look at the face make-up (note the mouth and eyes in white)
Clown costumes tend to also exagerate some body parts, such at the feet and noses. You will note the oversized shoes on my clown:
The character clown in the American circus is usually either a hobo, tramp or bum clown. Emmett Kelly, Red Skelton, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were all character clowns. Clowns don’t talk but rather use props like a squirting flower or riding a “clown bike” to evoke humor. Sometimes clowns do, however, perform other skils in the circus, like walking a tight rope or riding a horse. Time to look at my clown in full: Note the large bubble nose and the “squirting” flower on the lapel and his oversized trousers:
Some people have expressed a fear of clowns, particularly those in the circus The term “coulrophobia” is used to describe this fear as abnormal or irrational fear of clowns. Some argue that notorious figures in real life (John Wayne Gacy) have contributed to this fear. Additionally the fact that much of a clown’s behavior is anti-social can create feelings of unease. NOTE 1.
When I see a clown, I think immediately of Judy Collins classic “Send in the Clowns.” I actually have a clown music box that plays the song.
Here are some of the lyrics:
“Isn’t it bliss?
Don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can’t move….
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.
Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear. I thought you’d want what I want…
Sorry my dear!
And where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here.”
Hope you all enjoyed our blog on clowns which was inspired by THASC artist Gary Lapelle. Marples looks like a “happy clown” to me. What do you think?
Join me on the last Thursday in May to salute those whom we honor on Saturday, May 30, Memorial Day.
Note 1. “Why Are Some People Afraid of Clowns?”, Zidbits. October 20, 2011.