Not all clowns are bad.
The creepy clown hysteria, born in the woods of South Carolina, has spread across the country, making many feel uneasy. There have been countless reports of sightings since August, instilling a sense of fear that should honestly probably already exist surrounding adults dressed as clowns. These clowns are allegedly carrying machetes, attempting to lure children into the woods, and, perhaps most importantly, staining the name of professional clowns everywhere.
In order to highlight the effects this hysteria has generated, I have sat down with Chortles the Clown, a professional who is renowned in his field. This interview took place in a deserted alleyway at night, because Chortles cannot risk being seen publicly at this time and also it’s where he lives.
Q: Chortles, how have these sightings affected business for you and those you know?
A: I haven’t done a show in four months. A mother told me her daughter was too afraid, so I got the daughter’s cell phone number and called repeatedly, leaving several voicemails to show I am not someone she should fear. No word yet. As for my friends, Bongo the Clown has had all of his gigs cancelled and Mr. Funny Bunny has had to go back to his day job of being a district attorney. Scooter and Tickles are getting a divorce due to stress and are now fighting for sole custody of their two children, Dumbo and Pickles. Twinkles had to sell her unicycle, Happy is taking Zoloft, and Humpty is stripping. Crackpot the Clown is the only one who seems to be doing okay, but I heard he makes his money some other way.
Q: What has this done to the reputations of legitimate clowns like yourself?
A: They have stained our names. Being a clown used to mean something, you know? But now there’s this strange stigma, as if we are dangerous. I have to yell, “I’m not going to kill you!” at people all day, but that is exactly what a clown who is going to kill you would say. Every morning when I wake up as a full grown man and cake layers upon layers of makeup on my face, it’s to make people happy. It’s also to piss off my dad, but mostly it’s to make people happy and I can’t do that right now. I am a professional clown from a loosely-accredited institution with a Ph. D. in Pie-Throwing. But as of right now, I get no respect in this country. Or health insurance. Or WiFi, now that I think about it.
Q: Would you say that Clown College has prepared you to deal with a public relations crisis of this caliber?
A: Yes. History 203, “The Clowns of Yesteryear,” took us through the changing image of the clown and I learned that what is happening now is not new. There have been ups, like the heyday of the circus, and there have been downs, like when John Wayne Gacy dressed up as “Pogo the Clown” and murdered 33 boys. But Professor Bozo instilled in us the sense that our craft is one that takes resilience, and we too can come back from anything, just as those who came before us did. When I was given that red nose on graduation day, I raised my right hand and swore on all that I held sacred to remain loyal to the profession of clowning, and that is exactly what I will do.
Q: You mention that there have been other negative images of clowns in the past. Could you give another example and explain what is so different about the ones now?
A: Another example would be Pennywise, a clown who certainly went down a bad path. His behaviors did a number on our community, but what many people do not know is that he has reformed immensely. Many thought he died, but he actually checked himself into a luxury rehab near Palm Beach for his addiction to eating children. As far as I hear, he hasn’t relapsed. He was actually a guest lecturer at our college and used his story as a cautionary tale that brought a number of highly respected clowns to their knees. He can’t pass a CORI check, which limits both where he can work and what kind of work he can do, but he definitely has a story to tell. Did he impact people’s views of clowns? Yes. But I feel the public saw it as an isolated incident and did not generalize. Now, people see us all as the clowns from haunted houses who borderline assault you until you say, “Wait, is this part of it?”
Q: What was being a clown like before these incidents?
A: Transformative. When I first started, I had gigs every night of the week. Sure, a lot of them were for this one man who watched alone from his couch, but it can’t all be so glamorous when you’re starting out. I could command a room like you wouldn’t believe, and not all of that was due to the piercing blow horn I was given as a graduation present. I wasn’t in it for the women, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it hurt any. It was just so freeing to be able to drive down the road in my street-illegal clown car without having rocks pelted at me by children who feared for their lives.
Q: If you could say one thing to these alleged killer clowns, what would that be?
A: STOP. You are ruining people’s livelihoods. We get it, you have had a troubled childhood. Just do what normal people do and post an excessive amount of filtered selfies that are captioned with One Tree Hill quotes.