Clowns: A Brief Overview

Stop clowning around! How often have we said this to someone? As a middle school teacher, I give this command many times during the day. I just finished reading Alan Clay’s clown guide: Angels Can Fly. The book has inspired me in several ways.

Just what is a clown? Clowns are performers who usually use physical humor to entertain folks. Most people associate clowns with characters who wear strange, extravagant clothes and distinctive makeup. The red clown nose and honking horn are also trademarks.

Audiences tend to associate clowns with circuses where clowns often perform slapstick comedy. Clowns can be found performing mime or statue work. Clowns play the role of the fool with extraordinary actions and tasks. The clown will exaggerate ordinary actions to make them appear funny.

In Egypt, around 2400 B.C., clowns served as priests and psychologists for royalty. Many European monarchs had fools who played the role of listener and advisor. Clowns were not the same as court jesters, who were independent entertainers hired to perform at court.

There are three different types of clowns as performers. The most sophisticated of the clowns is the white face clown. White face clowns dress more extravagantly than other types of clowns. Another type of clown is the Auguste or buffoon clown. The Auguste’s face makeup is pink, red, or tan, the mouth and eyes are outlined in white. Auguste clowns play the fool. Red Skelton was a famous Auguste clown from my childhood. In the American circus or performing arts, there are three variations on the Auguste clown.

Hobo clowns traveled and were general happy about their situation. Then there were the tramps who also traveled but was not too happy about his situation. Charlie Chaplin was known as a tramp clown. The bum clown stayed in one area and was always down on his luck. He was lazy.

Clown is a viable art form that has its roots in the historic performing arts of Europe or Asia. Clowns can be seen on the street, at the circus, at carnivals and festivals. Clowns are even seen on the big screen as exaggerated characters like those played by Jim Carrey.

Remember, clowning is a traditional art that is well-respected in many countries and cultures.

persona paper_clown_2

The artwork is mine. I drew the basic outline with a pencil on paper. Then, I scanned the illustration and painted it in Corel Lite. I uploaded the painting to PicMonkey where I used layers and textures to enhance it. It belongs to me.


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