I like clowns, most of the time. I admit that a part of me, deep down, is scared of clowns. Sure, they’re lots of fun at the circus and at parties, but at night, when they hide in the shadows with an evil grin…. Ok, I better stop. I’m scaring myself. But to quote Lon Chaney, “There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight….”
To overcome my fear of clowns, I decided to learn more about them. In all seriousness, clowning is a very respected tradition and requires tremendous skill and training. There are many clown schools and colleges that teach the finer arts to the serious clown.
Did you know that there are three major types of clowns? Four, actually, depending on who you ask.
The White Face Clown is your typical circus clown. All exposed skin is painted white or covered in clothing. The White Face Clown is usually the ‘intelligent’ ringleader who bosses the other clowns around.
The Auguste (pronounced aw-GOOST) Clown uses flesh-colored makeup instead of white. ‘Auguste’ is German for ‘foolish,” which aptly describes this type of clown. He is the troublemaker, the prankster, and is typically considered the least intelligent, but perhaps the most beloved, of clowns.
3. SAD TRAMP/HAPPY HOBO CLOWN
The sad Tramp clown is a distinctly American invention inspired by homeless who travelled the rails in the late nineteenth century, and assumes a “down-on-his-luck” approach to life. His costume appears tattered and torn, and things do not go well for him. The Tramp wanders but does not want to find work.
The happy Hobo clown dresses the same as the Tramp, but smiles instead of frowns. The Hobo portrays a care-free attitude and knows everything will work out in the end.
Unlike the Tramp, the Hobo will work when he finds it, then move on to find work somewhere else.
The Character Clown can wear the makeup of any of the three previously mentioned clown types, and portrays a recognizable character or occupation. This clown will dress as a policman, fireman, sailor, nurse, doctor, baseball player etc.
Here’s an interesting video of Ruffles, a White Face Clown, applying her makeup. Wow, that looks like a lot of work!
Well, isn’t it fascinating to learn about clowns? I sure think so, and now I’m no longer afraid of them. If I were a clown, I wonder which type I would be. I suppose that each of us has a clown inside, waiting to come out.
Which type of clown would you be?