It’s time to stop worrying about creepy clowns

Have you heard?  The latest American Horror Story is going to feature a cult where everyone dresses up as creepy clowns.  Ryan Murphy must have hit on a surefire thing.  After all, two seasons ago he did a carnival-themed season where he debuted the scary Twisty the Clown.  Why have one creepy clown when you can have many?

And honestly, we need to stop worrying about that.

I got back from a gig a while ago where everyone in my clown group seemed to be on the defense.  One person tried to allay fears by going, “Real clowns don’t wear masks.  The people who are creepy clowns wear masks because they don’t want to be seen.”  Which… I suppose is fair but doesn’t get to the heart, really, of why people are a little creeped out by clowns.

Driving down the freeway, people of course were talking photos of us driving around in my tiny car.  One of my passengers from the backseat glumly mentioned, “They’re just going to post a picture of us with a caption that says, ‘Creepy clowns.'”

To which I replied, “Let them.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s their picture: they can post whatever they want.”  Because ultimately… what does it matter?  So they took a picture of us.  Big deal.  If they want to say we’re being creepy, then that’s totally fine.  In a way, we made their day.  After all, what is a clown’s purpose but to entertain?  Did we not entertain them while we were driving down the road?  For all the speculation about what they may or may not do with the picture they snapped… they still were laughing and smiling and sorta having a good time.

Look: I personally haven’t seen my own face on such photos, but I have run across Instagrams of several members of our own group with the “creepy clown” caption.  In the long term, it really doesn’t matter that the picture did get posted.

Do you know what did matter?  Being a cranky sourpuss who doesn’t want their picture taken because someone’s going to slander you.  That’s not what a clown is about.  People read that attitude and they get that body language.  They know you’re being depressing and ticked off.  And ultimately, that, more than anything, leads to a reinforcement of the “creepy clown” image.

The day after, a young pre-teen friend of mine was taking about how creepy she found clowns.  I put on a mock shocked face and said, “What… you don’t like me?!?!?”

“No!” she replied.  “All clowns are creepy except you!”

And that’s the heart of it.  Put on a great attitude, one that puts everyone at ease, and you’re not one of those clowns they’re scared of.   After all, literally anything out there can be scary.

Strangers are scary.

A homeless man pushing a cart down the street is scary.

Clowns can be scary.

But if you put them at ease… they you did your job.  And like I’ve said before, you can work it to your advantage.  When someone realizes that the thing they were scared of what just some nice dude wearing way too much face paint… well, that’s the biggest gag of all.

Funeral For A Clown

Late last year, one of the member in our clown club passed away due to heart complications. It was a very sad moment. All of us in the club planned on attending the memorial service. His family, though, had an interesting request: he wanted up all to dress up as clowns. Oh, and also have our van roll up to play fun music.

I can’t say we weren’t apprehensive. We were all apprehensive. You don’t just put on clown costume and act all goofy when your amidst people who are still hurting for loss. But his widow insisted she wanted a celebration of life. I rationalized that people like Jim Henson had memorial services that were unconventional but still respected the man. So a dozen of us put on our costumes and make-up and attended the memorial service.

Understandably, people looked at us strangely when we arrived. Who wouldn’t? But it turned out to be a crucial aspect of the funeral after all. The speakers shared how much or fellow clown had meant to the community — whether it was as a clown, as an announcer, as a Santa, as an events planner — and having a bunch of clowns show up emphasized how much of an impact he had left. The pastor had even mentioned, “I had heard about the clown thing… he’d clowned at our church … but I didn’t realized how BIG it was.”

In the end, we were welcome with open arms, and everyone remembered how our clown just loved everyone. I can’t say I’d do it again… but hey, my motto has always been, “Live your life like you want to write an interesting chapter in your autobiography.” I gotta say, going to a funeral as a clown is right up there.

New clubs

Huzzah! Zippy the Clown has some new fancy clubs thanks to Seattle’s Funky Fun Magic Shop! I bought my original clubs here back when it was called the Seattle Juggling & Magic Shop, and I am proud to continue shopping there.  If you have ever been interested in taking up the juggling arts, you should check them out.