The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary

The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary

What’s particularly interesting about this Smithsonian article is the section beginning with Grimaldi, the father of modern clowns, and the deevolution of clowning from a comedic performance to the opposite, the projection of our deepest and darkest fears (the fear of the other) onto a person with makeup that is supposed to make us laugh.

Some parts of the article seem a little…dramatic, but if we’re talking about clowns, I’m not sure it’s inappropriate to have that tone.

Nonetheless, it’s a very interesting concept to think about: the modern clown and their place on stage today. Do they even have a place? Or, like the article suggests, they’re better off now just hanging out in hospitals, providing company to the sick akin to service dogs. Is that a performance in and of itself?



  1. Katharine Kavanagh

    Definitely a place for modern clowns, both on stage and on our tv and movie screens! Just that a lot of people may not recognise them as ‘clowns’, because they’ve done away with the traditional costuming and overt make-up that seemed to become one of their defining features over time (meaning that some ‘clowns’ who visit hospitals and advertise their services are not clowns at all, but people who thing a silly wig and a red nose is enough!)

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