custom gadget

Friday, July 15, 2011

Send in the (Mildly Terrifying) Clowns

As you may have gleaned from previous posts, I suffer from a severe lack of artistic talent. I've come to terms with this and I do the best I can when the job requires it. Today, for example, I made - by hand! - a felt set of a clown's face for a future story time to go along with a cute little song that teaches colors. (I've used this before and kids like it. I swear. Why are you looking at me like that?)

I know what you're going to say. "But clowns are scary! They haunt my nightmares! I accidentally saw Stephen King's 'IT' when I was a kid and it scarred me for life!" Full disclosure: I don't always buy it when adults say they are scared of clowns. I'm sure some people have a legitimate phobia, but I tend to suspect that other people think it's trendy or cute or whatever to say they fear clowns. (That is just my unpopular opinion. Feel free to argue with me!)

C'mon! It's Tim Curry under there! Everyone loves Tim Curry.
Anyway, who knows. Maybe there IS something to be said about childhood clown-viewing trauma, so I was legitimately afraid of creeping out my story time kids with the clown face. In the interest of finding some cheerful clown pictures to use as a model for my felt set, I turned to Google. Big mistake. Clown phobia or no clown phobia: I stumbled upon some pretty frightening stuff. 

I saw many clowns that were, for whatever purpose, obviously intended to be chilling, hair-raising, or evil. However, the ones that made me understand the desire to rock in a corner while chanting "He can't hurt me. He can't hurt me..." were the ones that weren't even TRYING to be scary. Here is a sampling:

This is supposed to be a mask for you to cut out and wear. Have fun with that! You're sure to be the most popular person at the masquerade party! (And by popular, I mean arrested):

This guy can make you fear clowns AND astronomy: 

I've nicknamed this clown "The Leprechaun from Hell." Hide your Lucky Charms, folks, 'cause he's after them:

I wonder how his little hat stays on while he's CONSUMING HUMAN FLESH.

And then there's this clown who is inexplicably wearing ill-fitting lederhosen. Side note: why is the concept of oversized pants supposed to be funny? It's not funny - or always legal - when REGULAR adults wear them.

Also, what the hell is he doing? Clownrobics? Is he an air traffic controller who does kid's parties on the side? Is he the "Y" in a horrifying version of "YMCA"? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, CLOWN.

Alright. I'm an equal-opportunity clown-hater. Here is my clown face masterpiece. Yes, this is what I will be using to teach the colors of the rainbow to the youth of Brooklyn. This is how I intend to promote literacy and encourage children to come back to the library for years to come. I am proud of my work. I AM NOT ASHAMED. 

Just kidding, I am totally ashamed.
My coworker/friend Ally was in the office when I was crafting this monstrosity. She told me she was the art director of a summer camp many years ago, so I asked her what she thought of my artistic skills. She replied: "You'd do well in the 'Mommy and Me' class. Of course, you'd be the 'Me.'" Thanks, buddy. 

In conclusion: if you tell me you're afraid of clowns, I might believe you now. (But only if you attended my story time.)

Edit: my friend Sean Ferrell sent me a study on why children fear clowns, which makes total sense. And I was informed that my mother also has an alleged fear of clowns because she once threw up at the circus as a child or something. So, yeah. I'm still not convinced that EVERY person who has ever said they're afraid of clowns actually IS afraid, but I am finding the stories to be interesting. Share yours if you'd like!


  1. Born in 1973, I grew up in the town of Mt. Prospect, IL. Right down the road from us was Norwood Township, home of one John Wayne Gacy. Having his face in clown makeup on the TV news during most of my childhood sealed my fear of evil clowns.

  2. Gah! Yeah, I didn't want to even mention JWG. You have a completely acceptable excuse for your clown fears!

  3. I ain't AFRAID of no clown.

    But I HATE them. I question the wisdom of adults wearing creepy smiley makeup to attract children.

  4. You have shone a bright light on a deep societal issue, Rita. Much respect. I honk my red nose in your honor.

  5. I find It scary-funny. But I probably only laugh to mask my fear.

    Anyway, I always think the "clowns are scary" thing is more of a social phenomenon more than a fear stemming from any real experience or instinct, but recently I've been sifting through a children's illustrated book collection. I'm taking photos and planning on assembling a vaguely amusing tumblr, and I can assure you there will be a 'can't sleep - clown will eat me' tag. One of the clowns I've found looks like he's a walking abstract expressionist painting. That's melting.

  6. Patty, I think that is a very important distinction! And I agree.

    I appreciate it, Ryne. You know how I like to discuss the REALLY important things.

    Andrew, you summed it up perfectly with "social phenomenon." That's how I see it too. I'm not saying clowns AREN'T creepy. But the fear thing seems to be a popular bandwagon.(Please send me the link to the Tumblr when it's up and running!)

  7. Gregory MandaranoJuly 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM


    That film touches upon the horror of clowndom in a way that most closely imitates reality! A must see for any researching the horrors that is the clown.

  8. I wish I had something encouraging to say about your clown, but since I have zero artistic ability myself all I can do is laugh.

    And I'm with Patty. I don't necessarily fear clowns, not the way I fear wasps of any shape and size, buy I don't like them. Nope.

  9. My boyfriend is genuinely scared of clowns - I find it quite funny.

    One of his female friends at about 14 literally pooed herself because she unexpectedly saw a clown!

  10. I think that one clown is holding his arms up so his big pants don't fall down.

  11. I have a sudden urge to go and read IT now...Just expressing my depressingly human urge to delve into the creepy and scary for entertainment...

    I am aware this probably just made me sound slightly crazy. Meh.

  12. Holy shit, this whole post is terrifying. Clowns = yikes!

  13. "The concept of clown doctors is beginning to gain prominence in India."

    That's especially bad news for kids who are too unwell to run away.

  14. 'Clown Doctors' - you've just given me the title for my as-yet-untitled children's book. Thank you.

  15. A pleasure. You could illustrate it yourself, I'm sure.