Trigger warning: Clowns
I’m kidding. I don’t believe in trigger warnings. Life itself is a trigger warning, Chuckles.
I hate clowns. Their bizarre colored skin, stupid facial expressions, ridiculous orange hair, loud voice, and the whole ironically running for president dog and pony show…wait, I got confused. That’s Donald Trump. I’m talking about my hatred for all clowns, not just the billionaire orangutan. And I’m aware this isn’t a unique statement- hating clowns. In fact, most people I’ve spoken to find clowns horrible. But I wanted to know why- why others find them revolting. I decided to ask several writers, comedians, and other genuinely creative people their thoughts on what exactly makes clowns so grotesque. Is there a central reason, or does it vary from person to person.
I asked them just one question: Why do you think people find clowns so creepy?
I’ll go first.
I believe they’re evil and will kill me. And they’re never funny. Ever.
I’m terrified I may be thought of as one- just a ridiculous, feckless clown.
And no, I don’t have a big red pair of clown shoes under my bed…well I do, but not for clowning, I just that have big feet. I’m tall, it’s not my fault. And they’re Converse, not exaggerated red patent leather men’s shoes.
Let me explain. It disturbs me as a funny person that I’m often not taken seriously. I suspect that people who aren’t drawn to creating comedy, don’t understand that comedians are in fact some of the most intelligent, sensitive, and introspective people. As a child I often obsessed over things and the only thing I could do to cope was to make jokes about what was troubling me. I was called the class clown, but in my mind I thought of myself as someone who contemplated things in a painfully serious way.
I first asked my long time comedy hero: Writer/Actor/Comedian and member of my favorite comedy troupe ever, “The Kids in the Hall” Bruce McCulloch- and he was kind enough to answer. Here’s some thoughts Bruce shared with me about clowns:
And that is why I love Bruce McCulloch- his incredible mind has kept me smiling for the past 20 years. His album, “shame-based man” stands on its own as a kick-ass record, even without being insanely funny. Check out his show “Young Drunk Punk,” and pick up his book, “Let’s Start a Riot”- it’s a rare blend of funny, smart and and deeply touching. Keep up with all things Bruce here: brucio.com
Maybe my hatred for clowns should be boiled down to what the TV writer and hilarious stand up comedian Jason Berlin said:
“Sure, no one likes child molesting, but the main reason people hate clowns is their shitty comedy.”
Brevity is the soul of wit; and by “brevity” I mean Jason Berlin. Nailed it, sir. I next asked someone who makes me laugh everyday on Twitter, Don Nichols, who simply describes himself as “man who falls over 3-4 times a week while putting on underwear”-but I describe him as “one of Twitter’s best”
“People are generally afraid of things we feel some sense of power or longevity over. The guilt of perceived superiority causes fear of being overthrown or having a standing taken away. Well off people are afraid of poor or oppressed people. Healthy adults are frightened by sickly, pale children & the decrepit elderly. Clean people with shoes are scared of dirty people with bare feet. The living are afraid of the dead. We have more strength and resources than these things, yet we’re afraid. Once a “normal” has been established in a person’s mind, any mutation on that normalcy becomes a scary realization. The idea of a monster is just something that’s angry because it’s not like you are. Some people try to help the different become like them, while others try to battle against them, or flat out hide. Clowns are always the butt of the joke. They only exist to be lesser than you. Being called “a clown” is a fast way to be dismissed.
They hide behind a false face of exaggerated features, usually of fake happiness or outright sadness. In big shoes, getting water thrown on them, or their pants pulled down, they are expected to perform foolish antics for our amusement, but with no real thought given to who lives underneath the facade. Fearing clowns is fearing that we might have to answer for being cruel and insensitive to the pain of others.”
While we all have our own unique reasons for hating clowns, this year has made us confront them in new and terrifying ways: not only random clowns showing up on dark streets, but the big orange one running for President. With the sightings of clowns in 2016, I can only offer this: clowns are terrifying because we don’t know who they are, if the smile is just a mask hiding terror, or if they mean us true harm. One thing I know for sure, clown sightings are not anywhere near as terrifying as the possibility of a Trump Presidency.
So, thank you, 2016: you brought all my worst clown fears to fruition.