And The Clown
by Noggin Bodd
History and Introduction to Circus and the Clown by Noggin Bodd
T. Barnum, the American Circus promoter, once said, when remarking on
the importance of the clown,
Dan Rice, one of the first famous clowns in the United States, was popular during the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was one of his greatest fans. In fact, it was widely believed that Rice's face and his characteristic costume of striped pants, long beard, and stove pipe hat, inspired the early drawings of Uncle Sam.
Circuses were small then and clowns were singers and joke tellers. As Circuses grew and audiences got bigger, performers could no longer be heard. A new kind of clowning, called Pantomime, developed and clowns began walking among the crowds, repeating their act for small groups as they mingled. It became more difficult for clowns to become famous under these circumstances.
Some famous Circus Acts
was billed as the 'King of the Clowns'. He used trained animals in his
In European circuses, European clowns of merit include Toto (Armando Novello), Marceline, Grock, Coco (Raoul Jouin), members of the Fratellini family, and Oleg Popov.
| Now, let's talk
the original clowns, if you ask me! I don't care what historians say,
after all I was there, wasn't I? I ought to know a little something
about history. We Court Jesters, were often referred to as buffoons,
zanies, fools and pantaloons. We entertained the Royals, like The King
and Queen, or like say the Lords of the Manor at lesser notables courts
in the surrounding countryside.
The European forerunners of our present day clowns were known by such names as fools, buffoons, zanies, pantaloons, and Merry-Andrews. Perhaps the first of these comic characters appeared in the theaters of Greece and Rome more than two thousand years ago. A favorite of kings and queens in the Middle Ages was the court jester, dressed in motley and wearing a foolscap with bells.
Beginning in the sixteenth century, several immortal clown characters were developed for plays and pantomime. These included Pierrot and Harlequin (see Theater). Soon after circuses were established in Europe and North America in the late 1700s, clowns were hired to amuse the audiences. Two clowns, Porter and Burt, performed in London, England, in the first modern circus. The first circus in the United States featured an English clown, Thomas Sully.
I was a Court Jester in
King Grit N' Grin's Court in 'The
Land of As Is'. You may be certain, I am no longer his fool, but
for a time, a very short time, I did try to make him laugh. However,
as his name implies, he is a very grim man and in my opinion, has no
sense of humor. I just barely escaped a horrible end at his hands.
Ugh, but, we'll have to talk about that later, why thinking of it
even now, gives me the chills. Oh! gotta fly, Nickleby is calling for
me, we have to get going on our next stop in
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