Clowning Around

I like these new balloon animal tricks much more than I liked the old ones.
I like these new balloon animal tricks much more than I liked the old ones.

First off I have to admit that I am friends with two, professional clowns. Specifically the legendary cow punk Pioneer, Pete Berwick, who moonlights as a clown for children’s parties. I am also friends with Happy The Drunken Clown who will come to your event and insult the living hell out of everyone. As you might surmise, he and Pete have slightly different target audiences. Still, they’re both clowns in the formal sense. In the 80’s I drove a forklift for Sears and was friends with the late Bobbo the Clown, who worked there as well. I was also an acquaintance of Hollie Stevens, the undisputed queen of clown porn until she passed away in 2012 from cancer. So, as you can tell, I do not suffer from Coulrophobia.

That’s why, last Monday, when the NY Daily News reported that there was a clown shortage in America, I noticed. So did a bunch of clowns.

Very angry clowns.

Andy Campbell has the story.

Did you hear the one about America’s imminent “clown shortage?” It’s not very funny.

A New York Daily News article claimed Monday that “a national clown shortage is on the horizon.”

But that’s a big, Bozo-sized comedy of errors, according to the greasepaint yucksters the tabloid quotes in its report.

The article draws a correlation between declining membership in two national clowning associations and the downfall of clownhood altogether:

“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the [Minnesota]-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”

The story goes on to point out that the other nationwide clown network — the World Clown Association — has seen its membership drop from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.

Kohlberger and other circus types aren’t denying that their groups face dwindling membership. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of clowns to send in — wherever a balloon needs to be folded or cream pie needs to be thrown.

“To say there’s a clown shortage, it’s just false,” he said. “Clowns of America International is a volunteer association. We don’t get paid, we educate and we help others … Like any association, people forget to renew [their membership], or they work in the field but don’t sign up. Unfortunately there are a lot of unprofessional clowns out there.

“But clowns are everywhere,” he added.

It would appear that proof of clowndom’s burgeoning success lies in the Daily News’ own article. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to Brooklyn on Thursday. There were 531 applicants for just 11 clown jobs last year, the tabloid reported.

A Daily News editor declined to comment for this article.

And yet, inaccurate or not, the article went viral and the story made an appearance on The Tonight Show.

As the old saying goes, any press is good press. Although Kohlberger was “very upset” about the article, it did “create excitement all over the world.” So who’s laughing now?

I’ll admit that fewer and fewer clowns are joining professional trade associations. That’s because they really don’t need them any more. Thanks to the internet and party planners the kind of social networking those associations provide is not really salient to getting work. It’s nice to hang with other clowns, if you’re into that sort of thing, but your membership fee isn’t going to get you any more work than you can get on your own.

Still, today’s story is happier than the time I had to share the bon mot of the ninja granny facing off against crazed clown attacker.

Yeah, that went about as well you might imagine.

By the way, this just in, Patrick Stewart is still a heterosexual. This despite the fact that some clown at the Guardian claimed he was gay because he knew gay people.

Stewart’s response is also what you’d expect.

Patrick Stewart ✔ @SirPatStew
@Poynter But @guardian I have, like, five or even SEVEN hetero friends and we totally drink beer and eat lots of chicken wings!

“fetish clown” from LuxFilm Factory on Vimeo.

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