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Hey-hey! Do you love clowns?

January 18, 2008

Can clowns REALLY be scary?

A poll of children, aged four to 16, published by researchers at Britain’s University of Sheffield suggests they are. Their survey, which was looking at what decor to have in hospital children’s wards, found all 250 respondents thought they were frightening.

But this has deeply upset clowns around the world. Not only are they regular fixtures at youngsters’ birthday parties, many also work in hospitals where they say their visits brighten up the day for sick children.

“When there was no hope in sight, clowns have brought smiles to the rescue and the children have welcomed them with open arms,” said Jeremy “Krispy” Cohen, president of Red Nose Response,  which send clowns to disaster areas to bring smiles to survivors and relief workers.

Perhaps, their reputations have suffered with adults from numerous films which have portrayed clowns in less than a favourable light. Movies with titles such as “Fear of Clowns”, “The Clown Murders” and “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” hardly paint a positive image, and there are many examples in films and TV shows of murderers disguising themselves as clowns.

An unscientific poll around our office found that a number of people thought clowns were a bit scary, while perhaps the best demographic, the two-year-old son of another reporter, thought they were great.

Are clowns as popular with children as Krusty the Clown is in “The Simpsons”? Or do you think they are creepy? Send us your comments.


I am terrified of clowns.

Posted by June | Report as abusive

When my son was 4,he developed leukemia and was in Memorial Sloan Kettering in N.Y.C. for many months. It was the saddest time in our lives.It wasn’t until the Big Apple Circus Clowns came in and gave me back my smile that I could then help my child, my family and myself to realize that there is always hope and to smile and have fun whenever we could. It helped so much and changed our attitudes completely. He is now 24 and doing really well.Thank God for the clown angels we met

Posted by Elaine | Report as abusive

at the hospital. We have now strived to give back the wonderful gift to others that was given to us.

Posted by Elaine | Report as abusive

I began my clowning career in a hospital setting twenty years ago. I was taught then, and still practice today, a form of gentle caring clown activities. Whether my clown meets children in a waiting room, play room, hallway, or their hospital room (or that of a family member)”Chester” always pays special attention to the mood and attitude of the child. If they seem afraid, you back off and approach quietly. In NO case do you burst into their room like it was a circus ring. Although “Chester” is a white-faced clown with colorful makeup and costume, he is always careful not to scare anyone. I refuse to sneak up on someone who a friend tells me is afraid of clowns. I have had several such folks (children and adults) warm up to me and have a great time playing–even blow me kisses when they or I have to leave. Steven King does not know the first thing about being a REAL clown. Do not lump all of us in with “It.”

Posted by Rev. Bob Phillips, aka "Chester" | Report as abusive

I only remember clowns as being gentle people and putting smiles on faces…I was born in 1954 and loved the circus, still do, particularly clowns….they are unique….don’t let these guys go and please do not be cruel if you are just watching movies….if the movie industry wants to portray people as ..whatever… then the people of today will believe that….I would hope that children will find clowns full of fun and a kind of refuge from this very difficult world x

Posted by Sheila | Report as abusive

Never been a fan of clowns at all. I have always thought they were creepy, not fun. The only time I find clowns amusing is at a circus when they are far away or if they are performing tricks and are a safe distance away. And don’t get me started about how “wrong” Ronald McDonald is on sooooo many levels – CREEPY!

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

My track record for curbing people’s caulrophic tendencies towards clowns has been phenomenal. Why? Well, it all comes down to level of professionalism. Clown attire and makeup has evolved over the years to be much more subtle and less threatening. The true professional knows the trends and has kept up with them. Additionally, a true professional that works directly with an audience has not only learned to be funny but has also learned that it takes a variety of interpersonal skills and techniques to fill those big shoes successfully – a very special, dedicated and caring person.


Sorry for the typographical error…

The word is “caulrophobic.”


Although I love the circus, I have always disliked clowns. To me, they aren’t so much scary as they are generally repulsive.


I have been a clown for over a quarter century and have seen first hand some ‘miraculous’ things happen. Scientsts all over the world are now accepting what clowns have known for hundreds of years. Scientists are putting out scientific data that prooves that there is a healing power in laughter and in having a positive and cheerful attitude. This is the ‘medicine’ that clowns have ‘prescribed’ and delivered to everyone for centuries.

Posted by Ida No aka Here, the Clown | Report as abusive

I was a clown for 30 years. And they terrify me. Seriously, I’ve hung up my clomping big shoes and retired. No more red nose days for me. Yeeuuuugh. Creepy!


Any face with a fixed, immobile smile is going to remind people of a death’s head, even if they can’t put a finger on it.

The faces of Commedia del’Arte characteers were never as extreme as those on modern clowns, and circus clowns were (before TV) only ever viewed from a distance. And when they did get close enough for you to see their faces, they usually indulged in bullying behaviour like throwing a bucket of something at you.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

Although I don’t recall being frightened of clowns as a child, I have always regarded them as deeply sinister. I think it’s that in their appearance and their behaviour, they represent nothing positive about the human condition, but are at best pathetic and at worst downright baleful characters with whom one cannot identify on any level.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

Every career in life includes people who do not represent their career to the highest level it could be.Although most of the clowns I know have gone to school for their skills, there are those who don’t.In each of the disasters that happened here in the U.S. over the past year, clowns came in to bring people hope. These clowns have been trained and show the highest level of skill.We do not wear much make up at all in theseinstances,it is our heart and skill that shines through.


Many doctors and nurses have used their clown skills to help their patients. A good clown never
plays tricks on anyone other than themselves. Times have changed, those types of behaviors are no longer tolerated in thhe clown community. A good clown helps parents by never offering anything to a child unless their parent is right there to ask. A good clown NEVER goes up to a child, but waits until the child and their grownup approach them. This is our skill at use.


Clowns suck – never liked them.
Not sure if I used to find them scary, but certainly never found them funny. Cringingly annoying, even as a kid…
I root for global extinction.

Posted by Rene | Report as abusive

I am using a clown to help children learn how important a smile is and how it can help with their fears and pain. Twenty five percent of all royalties from ‘Miles Smiles’ book goes to the Piped Piper Appeal a registered charity (number 1011611) in Gloucestershire, UK, who raise funds for the children’s wards to buy children friendly equipment. Miles has a friendly face and most children like him.


The idea that clowns are not welcomed is stupid. If it weren’t for a clown who helped me and my family go through a family crisis, I do not think we would have made it. Daisy D. Dotts shared her love and kindness to my daughter when I was dying with cancer. She was her best friend and helped her go through all the emotions of having a deathly ill mom. And if that wasn’t enough, Daisy came to me in the hospital and at home to remined me that their is hope for all of us with laughter. Clowns are not scary they save lives. They bring hope to the hopeless. They open their hearts for us to know we are loved.

Posted by Lydia | Report as abusive

I think that this is a negative story about clowns and is so untrue. Clowns are incredible people. Most clowns donate their time to help children with disablilities or that are sick. That is comendable! I run a special needs year round recreation and leisure activity program and I depend on clowns to make our children feel special and they do. They never let us down and do it from their heart. They except our children for who the are and never judge them which doesn’t happen often. We are grateful and appreciate all clowns for what they do. Our children love them and ask for them to come to our banquets and events all the time. When we have our banquet we are celebrating the fact that our children got out on the field because to us Playing is Winning we could never celebrate without our clowns the children would be so sad. To see the children’s faces when the clowns walk in and do magic, parachute play and just interact with the children is priceless. We say bring on the clowns without them our 100 plus children with special needs would be very unhappy. They bring a smile to their face and a tear to our eye watching them bring joy to all they touch. We should applaud these people for dedicating their lives to make all people smile. They are dedicated incredible people that give of themselves from their heart to bring joy. God Bless the Clowns for without them many sick and disabled children that apprciate them wouldn’t have a reason to smile!
Thank you Daisy D Dots and the Smile Factory

Deborah Wertalik
Special Angels Recreation

Posted by Deborah Wertalik | Report as abusive

I’ve been clowning for over 20 years.
99% of kids love clowns. You will find a few kids “afraid” of clowns but by the end of the party those kids may not be afraid anymore. Once they find out that you are there to make them happy and smile they may come around. If the pictures on the wall were the old whiteface grotesque clowns they should be view from afar. Their makeup was for large crowds at circus’ at a great distance.
Being afraid of clowns nowadays is probably learned from adults that haven’t learned to appreciate what true clowns are trying to portray. All those scary movies, etc. about clowns are not the truth. Clowns go to schools, conventions and workshops to learn and improve on their make-up, wardrobe and skills.
I feel bad when someone can’t laugh with the clowns. I wonder how their life really is going.
Keep smiling!

Posted by Nancy | Report as abusive

I have to that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Yes, some children are afraid of clowns, many are not I have a special needs child who loves clowns she has a clown at every party, She attends a school where there are children of all ages and adults with a wide range of disabilities and when the clowns come in they love them and they have a great time. I also want to say my younger daughter has a friend who said she was afraid of clowns, but I took her to the clown festival in Seaside NJ, and she was on stage with them having the time of her life the only clown she was afraid of was Ronald McDonald. So to go around and say all children and even some adults are afraid of clowns is unfair to all the clowns that give so much of there time to making everyone forget all thier worriers and just have fun. We the Ward Family are CLOWN LOVERS and always will be. All you clowns keep doing what your doing, because we sure need it.

Posted by Lisa Ward | Report as abusive

My daughter has been going to clown school, that is being taught by a wonderful group of people. My daughter loves everything about being a clown. They volunteer at many different events and give back to the community in so many differnet ways. They are taught of course things such as juggling, joke telling, magic, how to make balloon animal… and most importanly how to touch someone’s heart and leave them with a smile.
Clown School has changed my daughters and my life in so many wonderful ways.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

We are all getting away from the original article which polled children and asked them if they would like the walls of the hospital decorated with CLOWN wallpaper! Seriously would anyone want to look at clowns spread out all over the walls? I think not!
Clowning for me has allowed me to touch the lives of someone who is going through life and hits a bump in the road. For just a few minutes it allows me to forget my problems and reach out and touch someone’s heart. There is NOTHING that will ever replace the face of that small child or a young-at-heart senior when a gentle clown enters that hospital room or nursing home.
Give a clown a chance, they are not as bad as you think!

Posted by Cathy | Report as abusive

Boy, oh boy, what a can of worms got opened. I have been a clown for 28 years..and it has been the most rewarding work that I have ever done. Sure some are afraid of me (usually because of creepy movies) but when I am face painting and they spend some time watching me, soon there they are waiting to be transformed into a beautiful butterfly or spiderman. Or how about the nursing home patient that hasn’t smiled or talked for months only to tell you that they love you cause you spent time with them. I don’t force myself forward when I see they are afraid. I give them their space, but when a small child runs up to be hugged by this grandma clown…that is heaven!!! Makes my day. Yeah for those who care about others!!!

Posted by Patti | Report as abusive

I’ve always found clowns to be tacky and cheap looking. I think clowns are outdated and associate them with the 1970′s. They seriously need a makeover…

Posted by Sylvie | Report as abusive

I love clowns and am well on my way to becoming one. I think its the movies and books that scare adults who then project those fears onto there children or worse yet, let them watch the movies or read the books. Clowns are here to make a sometimes sick world a little brighter. The ideal is for the audience to laugh and leave happy and brighter on and for us to bathe in there laughter. No drug is as addictive as being loved or knowing you are making someone roar with laughter.It puts life in these bones.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

I actually love clowns even though I used to be deeply terrified of them when I was younger. I now find them to be very interesting and entertaining, including the ones that are meant to be scary. I have managed to overcome my coulrophobia and turn it into something that is positive for me and now I have a lot of respect for those who have the guts to put on a clown suit and makeup and play that role in front of an audience, whether it’s a happy/funny clown, a sad one, or a scary one, as I expect that it can be a very difficult job, especially in today’s society. I’m really glad that I can face clowns of all types and enjoy their performances without getting so freaked out by them that it becomes impossible to do so. I think that people, especially adults, who are so afraid of clowns that they feel the need to spread their hate of them just so they can feel better about themselves and try to justify their hatred instead of facing their fear and coming to terms with it like they should are the ones with the real problems, not the clowns, and I actually feel sorry for them because they are really missing out on something that is good.

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive

If you didn’t laugh at such terrible journalism, you’d have to cry big clowny tears. This is just the latest episode in a blatant hate campaign being waged by Holden and his shadowy Coalition Against Clowning. This is not a laughing matter. The propaganda he spouts leads to violence. In March, 2003, Holden whipped up a CAC mob at a meeting in Worksop with his “let’s bloody their stupid red noses” rhetoric. That night, a gang set upon children’s entertainer Banjo after a sixth birthday party. One of the hate mob stood on Banjo’s long shoes while another pushed him to the ground and stole his squirty flower. All the while, other gang members chanted “There ain’t no pink and purple stripes in the Union Jack, send Coco back.” Again, in July 2006, after CAC members picketed a circus in Colchester, demanding for compulsory MOTs for clown cars, Peepy and Ploppy, two apprentice clowns, were forced from their unicyles and made to actually hit each other with frying pans. They then had a bucket of REAL water thrown over them. This must stop. Stop the attacks on clowns. Stop CAC. Stop Holden.

Posted by Pottermus | Report as abusive

Clowns are ubiquitous with the horror film It in the American culture. I don’t know about Britain, but I’m willing to bet that the rise of the horror movies with clowns in them created a part of the unease about clowns. The other problem (at least for me) is that they are fake. I mean, do you really have to paint a smile on your face? Ax murders probably would do the same thing.


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