Clowns are comic performers stereotypically characterized by the grotesque image of the circus clown's colored wigs, stylistic makeup, outlandish costumes, unusually large footwear, and red nose, which evolved to project their actions to large audiences. Other less grotesque styles have also developed, including theatre, television, and film clowns. Peter Berger writes that "It seems plausible that folly and fools, like religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society". For this reason, clowning is often considered an important part of training as a physical performance discipline, partly because tricky subject matter can be dealt with, but also because it requires a high level of risk and play in the performer.
The humour in clowning comes from the self-deprecating actions of the performer, rather than the audience laughing with the performer as is common with other forms of comedy.
The term coulrophobia has been coined to describe those individuals who report a fear of clowns.
Famous quotes containing the word clown:
“For public opinion does not admit that lofty rapturous laughter is worthy to stand beside lofty lyrical emotion and that there is all the difference in the world between it and the antics of a clown at a fair.”
—Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (18091852)
“Or else I thought her supernatural;
As though a sterner eye looked through her eye
On this foul world in its decline and fall,
On gangling stocks grown great, great stocks run dry,
Ancestral pearls all pitched into a sty,
Heroic reverie mocked by clown and knave....”
—William Butler Yeats (18651939)
“They tell us sometimes that if we had only kept quiet, all these desirable things would have come about of themselves. I am reminded of the Greek clown who, having seen an archer bring down a flying bird, remarked, sagely: You might have saved your arrow, for the bird would anyway have been killed by the fall.”
—Elizabeth Cady Stanton (18151902)