This is the
History of Clowns.
has always been quite ruthless, filled with an insatiable greed
for power and riches, and blessed with a sense of cruelty matched
only by his cunning. He will stop at nothing in his tracks to
satisfy his basest desires, and he frequently thins his species
in the name of nobility and religion. Man has always had a sense
of humor, however, and he loves to laugh. From almost the beginning
of time, man has been clowning around in the name of entertainment
and good humor.
Probably the genesis of "clowning" can be traced to
the concept of "the fool", dating back to ancient Egypt,
and usually a misfortunate soul handicapped in one way or another.
Early in his history, ,man stopped killing himself long enough
to enjoy a good comedy show every now and again. The quickest
way to get the laughs coming became the domain of the professional
clown.Comic characters in ancient Greece made an appearance in
the very first "theater" shows. Court Jesters were the
first clowns, and there are recorded instances of Court Jesters
going back as far as 2500 B.C. The Court Jester would supply a
steady stream of shenanigans, guaranteed with his life, to please
and entertain the court. The Spanish explorer Cortez found dwarfs
and clowns in the new world kingdom of the Aztecs in 1520. During
the Italian Renaissance, bands of roving theater troupes in Italy
called the Commedia del Arté introduced several clown characters
to an admiring public, among them Pierrot and Harleqin.
thrived in Elizabethan theater, the fool was a stock player in
Shakespeare's comedies. The clown exists in all manner of entertainment
media. But the circus is where clowns have evolved into iconic
status. 1768 is the date understood to be when the first circus
clown made his appearance, in England.
ran off and joined the circus. When we think of the clown, chances
are a white faced buffoon with a red rubber ball for a nose and
exaggerated eyebrows and mouth comes immediately to mind. The
"whitefaced" clown is one of three acknowledged 'clown
types' which have been refined thoroughout history. The others
are the Auguste and the Character Clown, usually dressed as a
hobo or tramp.
the clown branched out from the circus to the minstrelcy and vaudeville.
Comic 'acts' would include clown characters, in and out of makeup.
Clowns seemed to proliferate with the invention of the motion
picture, and the most popular of the filmed entertainment featured
the many "clowns" of the silent movies.
clown is firmly entrenched, finally coming into our living rooms
in the 50s with the advent of television. My generation was the
first to pay heed to an army of "birthday clowns" who
descended on the local airwaves. The birthday clown has now been
franchised, and appears at the local restaurant on Saturday mornings
twisting baloon animals, is found at birthday parties everywhere,
and can frequently be spotted driving down the freeway in a station
wagon filled to the brim with helium baloons.
"clowns" of an earlier era were given a fresh start
on television, and the clown became more popular than ever. Clowns
are frequently used as advertising icons, like Ronald of McDonald's
fame. The clown has a varied and storied career in popular culture.
Sometimes the wacky buffoon turns a bit evil however, and there
has become a large movement of people who claim they "hate
clowns" because they feel clowns give them trauma. One of
the interesting dilemmas concerning the comic clown is his ability
at an instant to turn evil.