4 Comments

  1. Julia

    One of my clown friends once told me a clown is someone who can make the extraordinary look insignificant, and the insignificant look extraordinary. We are someone you can relate to as humans. By taking falls, making jokes, and just bringing everyday life to the next level, everyone who gets a look at us can see they’ve been in a similar situation and laugh about it. We’re people with the volume cranked up a little. I really liked how you said the amount of makeup doesn’t make the clown. Honestly, I think in some ways we should try to be more like our clown in everyday life. We should, to an extent, try to make a connection with people and try to make others see we aren’t all that different after all. We are all just a bunch of screw ups so let’s all have a laugh about it together.

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  2. Betsy Kallmeyer

    A clown is an imitator of the different aspects of humanity. To coin a phrase, they are “a mirror of humanity”. Clowns exaggerate or emphasize common human tendencies, emotions, habits, flaws, failures and successes, for the entertainment of others while enjoying it themselves. Not all clowning is for bringing a smile to others, but can be to provoke thought or perhaps to bring a tear. In times past, they sometimes did make fun of others, make others the brunt of a joke, but it is no longer etiquette to do so in some of the advanced countries, so they are restricted to making fun of themselves or other clowns/entertainers who agree to the role. Also, in the past, clowns made use of their freedom to express political statements, provoking thought and discussion on delicate topics, either toward rulers or toward the general public. Some clowns should still take the opportunity to do so today, if they are talented enough to do it with skill and class. Some clowns entertain adults and not children; and some clowns are merely artists with a platform or avenue to present their expressions and talent, and are not necessarily dedicated to bringing smiles & laughter, but are dedicated to their own particular art or skill.

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  3. I understand the dictionary definition, and agree with it – UP TO A POINT. With the small amount of space a dictionary has to give the various connotations of a word, it has to boil it down to a few word definition. But I agree with Pricilla, too. There is so much more to the word clown, as it is both noun and verb and covers so much area. And so much more to the world of clowning.

    I wish the first definition were more to the extent of “Someone who entertains, primarily through physical comedy and word play, on stage, screen, circus and other venues.” For me, the key word there is ‘primarily’ because to be a really good clown – maybe even a great clown – you have to be more than funny, you have to be entertaining, and that means moments of pathos, quiet beauty, skill displays, and more. (If you’re interested in more of my take on this and are a Moose Camper, see my article “Don’t Be Funny, Be Entertaining!” in the Workbook.)

    So what do we do about the negative definitions and stereotypes? Well, admit (begrudgingly) that they are part of our world as part of the definition of the word ‘clown.’ But more importantly (and to restate Pricilla’s point in another way) we are not going to argue the negative away in word, print, or online. We have to BE the definition that we want the world to see and understand as the foremost idea of what as clown IS. Represent, and you might light more than a candle, you just might light a bonfire of positive recognition.

    – – Oh, and don’t loose any sleep over those parodies of clowns you occasionally see either. We parody all parts of life. Why shouldn’t we get a little ribbing back?
    – Christopher

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    • Betsy Kallmeyer

      You are so right, about taking a little ribbing. Scariness is a genre in itself, and very popular today. I don’t care for it myself, but it seems to be a huge seller. ANYTHING can be made into something scary, pumpkins and spiders aren’t scary, but they can be turned into something scary. Like Priscilla said, clowns aren’t scary, but can be turned into scary. To turn something into scary just proves its original purity and innocence. At Halloween, they even use baby dolls as scary decorations. Like you said, we just need to continue to represent the real thing.

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