What Is A
A Clown is an artist or performer who pretends to
be a fool or foolish and acts out or acts up, in order to amuse his
audience. In short, he's a comedian, someone who tries to make you laugh
by being funny.
How is he funny? It depends on the clown. Clowns have
many things in their bag of tricks. Some do slapstick, pie throwing,
falling down stumbling, physical humor. Some do pantomime; they don't
speak, they act out their skit or story, instead. Some use magic or
juggling. Others tell jokes and still others, like myself, use puppets
in their performance.
Now, Let us begin with a few facts about
clowns. What is a clown? A The Clown has many decisions to make about
his identity. Identity is not only to be found in a clown's name. Mercy
no, a clown's identity has a great deal to do with tradition, with
costume and with make up. There are many kinds or types of clowns and
they each create their own look. Each clown must create his very own,
Face meaning Character or personality.The
Clown's character, his Face, is created by the use of makeup, as well as
his costume and developing his Clown's personality. In other words, he
has a certain look and he acts out, in his own, special way. Once the
clown establishes this Face, it becomes his trademark, his personal
property, and no other Clown may dress or make up exactly like him.
Types and Classifications
The many kinds of
clowns are all descendants of the white-faced clown.
"I say a big Humph to that as I believe, think
they were descendants from me!"
there are four basic types or kinds of clowns.
The many kinds
of clowns are all descendants of the white-faced clown.
"I say a
big Humph to that as I believe, think they were descendants from
However, there are four basic types or kinds of clowns.
They are: Whiteface,
neat or grotesque,
which became more popular than its predecessor, the whiteface,
during the second half of the nineteenth Century,
The Whiteface clown does, as the
word implies, use white makeup to cover his face. He is the oldest
type of Clown in existence. These clowns evolved from, or grew out
of, the theatrical entertainers of earlier times, who wore white
faces for their performances. They wore elegant or bizarre,
(strange), costumes, and acted as comics during acts or as the butt
of the joke to the Ringmaster's performance. They did a lot of
physical stunts, like leaping and tumbling in a comical manner.
The Whiteface clown has several
different types or variations. The "neat
" Whiteface clown uses little color on his face but is
costumed in white. The outfit is usually a one piece garment with
its sleeves, and pants, tied at both the wrist and ankles.
decorated with ruffles and with a ruff, a huge pleated collar,
around the neck to complete the costume.
The "Grotesque" Whiteface clown, also known as
Comedy Whiteface, exaggerates
everything about himself, his pants, shoes, collars, ears, and wig
are bigger, wider, or baggier than is usual.
Bozo and Ronald
McDonald are two famous "Grotesque"
Auguste clowns became popular during the second half of the
nineteenth century. They wear colorful, ill fitting clothing, often
mismatched and oversized, have bulbous noses and brightly colored
wigs. Their shoes maybe oversized and exaggerated, and from head to
toe, color is an important part of the wardrobe. This clown may let
his natural skin show, but uses splashes of color around the eyes or
mouth to exaggerate his features. These clowns are the butt of the
joke, they do slapstick, slapping and stumbling, throwing pies,
using seltzer bottles, and tend to be more physical in their
performance. Emmett Kelly,
sometimes called "the clown's clown,"
is a variation of the Auguste
clown, although he is usually considered to be a
By the end
of the 19th century, the White Face
and the Auguste clown worked
together very well. The Whiteface,
a more sophisticated clown, playing the straight man and the
Auguste, clumsy clown, playing the
This combination is still used today in many aspects of
are the most realistic looking of the clown types. They exaggerate
usual facial features like beards, hair, eyebrows, whiskers, lips,
noses or heads in order to poke fun at themselves and the human
condition. The Hobo
or tramp impersonation was created by Otto Grielberg and was
introduced in the United States. Dark make-up is used suggesting the
need of a shave and tattered or patched multicolor clothing is worn
giving the impression of being down on your luck.
Character clowns may
impersonate a cowboy, fireman, tramp or a policeman.
Emmet Kelly and Charlie Chaplin
are two famous character clowns. The
Character, being the hobo or tramp. Red Skeleton, a famous
standup comedian, was well known for his "Freddie the Freeloader"
This character was based on the tramp genre.
"New Vaudeville" clown, usually
doesn't wear makeup. He entertains his audience by involving them in
his performance. New Vaudeville
performers use a combination of skills in their act. Mime, juggling,
acrobats, magic tricks and traditional clowning techniques may be
part of their bag of tricks. The Karamazov Brothers and Bill Irwin
are both well known New Vaudeville
The term clown did not become popular until the late 1800's.
Harlequin, a comic personality,
associated with the Italian Theater form, commedia dell'arte, in the
1800's was a forerunner to the Whiteface clown.
Clowns replaced the Harlequin
generally considered to be the most famous clown, introduced his
character Clown, meaning jester,
buffoon, fool, in the early nineteenth century in England. English
audiences were quick to identity with this character. Grimaldi used
white make up, and painted geometric patterns and exaggerated
features on his face. His Clown
character became so popular, Harlequin
was overshadowed in popularity but, it still remains a piece of old
world theatrical history. Grimaldi's clown name,
Joey became the term associated
throughout clowndom as a nick name for clown. Clowns are often
referred to as "Joey's."
Another Whiteface figure in clown
history of great clown importance is the French performer Jean
His face, or personality, used mime, acrobatics
and juggling in his act.
He dressed in white and performed as
Pierrot, a mischievous seventeenth century
character. Sometimes this clown seemed sly and sinister in
comparison to Grimaldi's happy buffoonery.
His face was a neat
whiteface with naturally proportioned features.
whitefaces, which have exaggerated features became more popular in
the twentieth century and are common to the American circus. Joe
Lewis, Paul A. Jerome, and Felix Adler are all famous grotesque
Felix Adler, whose career ended in 1962, was
billed as the, "Twentieth Century King of the Clowns". Lou Jacobs,
and Paul Jung were two other whiteface clowns.
More Pages On Clowning
|Sunnie BunnieZZ Related Poetry
Clown and Circus Puppets
Clown Home Page