Clowns haven’t always been terrifying and creepy. Traditionally, clowns were children’s entertainers. Clowns were innocent, happy, and funny characters meant to amuse. Now, when a lot of people think of clowns they think of Pennywise from the It Movie, and other terrifying clowns like that. Just last year the nation was being terrorized by creepy clowns. So how’d this all happen? Well, New York Magazine looked into the long and storied history of scary clowns to pin down just how and when clowns went astray.
I grew up in a clown town. Sarasota, Florida, the town I was born and raised in, was once home to the Ringling Bros. Circus Clown College. It’s still home to the Ringling Clown Museum. John Ringling of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus lived in Sarasota and brought clowns to this area. Growing up, I never thought clowns were creepy or terrifying. It wasn’t until I was an adult and saw clowns in Horror flicks that I ever realized people were scared of clowns.
Historically, clowns were portrayed as the ‘trickster character’ since before we even had written stories. The trickster archetype, like the Court’s Jester or Loki, has always had a strange ambiguity. Traditionally, they’ve been misunderstood characters. But how did clowns go from misunderstood to menacing and terrifying beings? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.