10 Fascinating Facts About Clowns

Clowns are known for their silly and sometimes scary antics, and have been a part of literature, performances, and films for over 200 years. Here are 10 intriguing facts about clowns:

1. The word “clown” first appeared in 1560.

The term “clowne” or “cloyne” was used to mean “rustic,” “boor,” or “peasant.” The origin of the word is believed to come from the Icelandic word “klunni,” which means “clumsy person.”

2. 2016 saw the Great Clown Scare.

In 2016, there was an abnormal number of clown sightings across the globe, with people dressed as “evil” clowns appearing in forests and schools. This phenomenon was dubbed the Great Clown Scare and led to various precautions being taken by countries, including banning the sale and wearing of clown costumes in certain areas.

3. Clowns International is an association for clowns.

Formed in 1947 by circus enthusiast Stan Bult, Clowns International (formerly known as the International Circus Clowns Club) was created to unite clowns across the globe to share industry knowledge and network with circus folk.

4. Joseph Grimaldi was the first famous clown.

Grimaldi, who first appeared on stage in England in 1802 as the clown “Joey,” is considered the father of clowns. He is known for his slapstick humor and physical tricks.

5. Clowns make a fool of themselves.

Unlike jesters, who make a fool of the audience, clowns make a fool of themselves.

6. Clowns have appeared in countless novels, performances, and films.

For well over 200 years, clowns have been a part of literature, performances, and films.

Although they are often associated with children’s birthday parties, clowns have also been portrayed as villains in horror movies.

8. The first written documentation of the word clown in English appears in a text in 1560.

The word “clown” was originally written as “clowne” or “cloyne” and was used to mean “rustic,” “boor,” or “peasant.”

9. The Great Clown Scare was sparked by a publicity stunt.

The first sighting of a person dressed as an “evil” clown, which is believed to have sparked the Great Clown Scare, was a publicity stunt to promote the release of a new horror film.

10. Clowns visit Joseph Grimaldi’s grave every year.

Since the early 1940s, clowns have been visiting Joseph Grimaldi’s grave in London to pay respects to the father figure of the clown industry. This tradition led to the formation of Clowns International in 1947.

Grimaldi became the only resident clown at Sadler’s Wells theatre in London in 1802.

During the 17th century, William Kempe and Robert Amin were some of the earliest professional stage clowns who worked with Shakespeare.

Clowns use face paint to exaggerate their expressions.

Grimaldi was the creator of the face paint that clowns wear as their stage makeup.

When he played Joey the clown, he made his first appearance wearing face paint.

The Sadler’s Wells theater in London closed for refurbishment in 1801 and reopened in 1802, with Joey as the main role played by Grimaldi.

To make an outstanding appearance for the reopening, Grimaldi redesigned his character and appearance, which led to the beginning of the face paint trend. He started with a white base layer that covered his face and neck, then added red triangles on his cheeks, grinning red lips, and thick eyebrows to exaggerate his expressions.

According to Grimaldi’s biographer Andrew McConnell Stott, this face paint became one of the most influential theatrical designs of the 1800s.

Pennywise is considered the scariest clown.

Clowns have been portrayed as mysterious and sinister characters in horror films and books for many years.

Pennywise from Stephen King’s horror novel “IT” is considered the scariest evil clown. Pennywise the Dancing Clown preys on children and has the ability to shape-shift and manipulate reality. It comes to haunt the children of Maine every 27 years and cannot be seen by adults, causing uproar.

The first fictional killer clown appeared in 1892.

The first killer clown to appear on stage was in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera “Pagliacci.”

The Italian word “Pagliacci” means clown, and the opera tells the tale of a love affair that leads the character dressed as a clown to stab his lover. The opera is performed in the commedia dell’arte style, an Italian style of performance that involves actors wearing masks and dressing similarly to clowns.

A jester is not the same as a clown.

Clowns and jesters are both colorful entertainers, but they are two different types of characters.

Clowns are performance artists who perform slapstick and have a routine planned out, while jesters are entertainers who joke, mock, and improvise on the spot.

The difference is that a clown makes a fool of themselves, while a jester makes a fool of the audience. Clowns are associated with the circus, while jesters were for the private entertainment of royalty in medieval times.

Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.

According to a survey conducted by Chapman University in 2016, 7.8% of Americans who participated expressed a fear of clowns. The survey examined the top fears of Americans, and clowns ranked among the top four personal fears. Vox conducted a follow-up survey after the Great Clown Scare of 2016, which revealed that Americans were more afraid of clowns than they were of climate change. The study also showed that the fear of random sightings of evil clowns was causing people to worry about their safety. A poll taken as part of the investigation found that 42% of the 1,999 participants were afraid of clowns to some degree. Among voters aged 18-29, around one in three had at least mild coulrophobia.

In the US, International Clown Week is celebrated in the first week of August every year. President Richard Nixon passed a law establishing the week on August 2, 1971. The week is meant to promote, celebrate, and inform people about the clown industry. Clown Club of America first encouraged its members to write to Congress to make the week official in 1967. Although circuses have declined in recent years, clowns continue to be a part of modern entertainment through performances and films. Their legacy lives on through children’s birthday parties and modern horror movies.


1. Why are clowns often associated with horror and fear?

The fear of clowns, or coulrophobia, is a common phenomenon. Many people find clowns creepy or even terrifying. This is partly due to the uncanny nature of clowns – they wear exaggerated makeup and costumes that distort their facial features, which can be unsettling. Additionally, clowns often engage in unpredictable or bizarre behavior, which can be perceived as threatening. Finally, the portrayal of evil or murderous clowns in popular media has contributed to the fear of clowns.

2. How long have clowns been around?

Clowns have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans had clown-like characters in their theatre productions, and clowns have been depicted in artwork from the Middle Ages onwards. However, the modern concept of the clown as a circus performer only emerged in the 19th century.

3. What is the origin of the clown’s red nose?

The red nose is a hallmark of clown makeup, but its origin is somewhat unclear. One theory is that the red nose is a reference to the red noses of heavy drinkers, who were often depicted as foolish or comical in medieval art. Another theory is that the red nose is simply a way to make the clown’s face more visible from a distance.

4. Do all clowns wear makeup and costumes?

No, not all clowns wear makeup and costumes. There are many different types of clowns, and some may wear only minimal makeup or simply dress in colorful clothing. However, the classic image of the clown with a red nose, white face, and exaggerated features is still the most recognizable.

5. What are some famous examples of clowns in popular culture?

Clowns have long been a staple of popular entertainment, particularly in circuses and children’s television shows. Some well-known examples include Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the McDonald’s fast food chain; Bozo the Clown, a popular children’s TV character from the 1950s to the 1990s; and Krusty the Clown, a recurring character on the TV show The Simpsons.

6. Are there any famous clowns who were actually scary or dangerous?

While most clowns are harmless entertainers, there have been some notable cases of clowns who have used their costumes and makeup to commit crimes. Perhaps the most famous example is John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer who performed as a clown at children’s parties and charity events. Other examples include the “Northampton Clown”, a mysterious figure who appeared in the UK in 2013 and was rumored to be stalking the streets at night, and the “Wasco Clown”, who appeared in California in 2014 and sparked a viral social media trend.

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