10/12/11

The History of Clowns

I had a friend who was a clown.

When he died, all his friends went to the funeral in one car.

-Steven Wright


            I should not really have to explain why clowns were my first choice for my “Scariest Shit Known to Man,” themed October essays, and I wouldn’t, except if I don’t, then this essay would be way too short to submit. Also, I’m a total sadist, and enjoy the idea of you missing out on another night of sleep because you had to wake your mom up at one in the morning, just to help clean your sheets, now soaked with pee (and RAW FEAR). But to contradict myself, I’m also here to hopefully relieve some of the fears and misconceptions you may have held about those men and women who dedicate their lives to mastering the clowning arts, for example, the idea that all clowns are serial killers is preposterous. Their entire job is to make you laugh! Gruesomely murdering you is about as far from their job description as they can get, it’s like if a banker, a person who’s entire job it is too protect your money, and keep it safe, just started frivolously spending it without your permission! Preposterous! So you see, just like bankers, and all those associated with banking and economic protection in general, clowns only heartlessly destroy the lives of innocent, random people, some of the time. Then again, clowns might not be the greatest idea in the first place, which I say on account of the fact that apparently, clowns were first invented by the Ancient Greeks. Remember those guys; the ones who I explicitly said should just stick to math and philosophy? Well I guess they got bored with that, and created the theatre, where orators would recount famous tales and legends to the people, and men would go on stage and make fools out of themselves for comedy.
Hey, beats watching Leno.

Now, y’all know I hate to judge, but if a clown’s entire point is to be ridiculous looking, then I’m not sure exactly how he could have looked anything but normal in front of an audience of Ancient Greeks. I’ve gone over this before, I love the Greeks, they were the first civilization, but it’s just things like the fact that they basically never took baths, yet they all wore towels around themselves, which just makes it hard for me to take them seriously (also they all looked homeless). Apparently, the Greek clown's role consisted of playing the foolish secondary character in plays, or the humorous parody of a famous serious character. Oh yea and they also were supposed to throw nuts at the audience. So clowns back then were a lot like today except, y'know, we throw shit at them, instead of the other way around. Still, while clowning originated in Greece, people believe that many empires invented the idea of a funny idiot on their own, empires like China, who had jesters performing in their courts since 1818 BC, as well as the Aztec empire, the Roman empire, certain tribes of Native Americans, heck, evidence has even risen up that a sort of pygmy clown was present in the court of Egyptian pharaoh Dadkeri-Assi, the real marvel being that the Egyptians actually laughed at something, instead of just looking at it stoically, before crushing it under their feet.
No, I do not know why the chicken crossed the road, I live in the DESERT.

Despite usually being horribly disfigured, or having unattractive physical characteristics (which is clearly hilarious, and something to be openly mocked by the public), many clowns throughout time have played integral parts in important events and conflicts, twisting and shaping history like the balloon animals of which they are so fond. For example, around 300 BC, when Chinese Emperor Shih Huang-Ti, tired of having his country invaded by the freaking Mongols all the time, came up with the brilliant, tactical solution to build a huge-ass wall around his country, it was his jester, Yu Sze who finally spoke up when he thought the whole plan was going a little too far. See, ‘cus just building the wall cost hundreds upon hundreds, upon HUNDREDS of lives, and apparently, after it was all done, the Emperor decided that there was no point in keeping out the Mongol hordes if they had to look bad to do it, and wanted the whole wall painted, which would have cost another couple of thousands of lives to do. Everyone in his court realized this, but apparently everyone in his court was also suffering from a severe case of tiny ball-sack syndrome, everyone that is except for Yu Sze, who was the only one to listen to this whole ‘painting the wall’ garbage, and call the Emperor out on his shit. Using his natural classiness, and affinity for humor, he managed to convince the Emperor to realize that he was acting like a five-star jackass, an act that left him remembered as one of the most famous Chinese heroes, Yu Sze, the man who saved thousands of peasants from killing themselves unnecessarily decorating the world’s largest and most obnoxious cock-block (that can be seen from space).
Still, a couple decorative flowers here and there wouldn't have hurt.

Sze perfectly exemplified the role of the jester in the court for almost all of the world, he was there to entertain the king, but because he lied somewhere in between royalty and peasantry, he was granted certain privileges not allowed to even the highest ranking dukes and lords, such as complete (well, mostly complete) free speech, allowed the jester to shift the king’s opinions and decisions on many important subjects, affecting entire nations at a time. It also allowed them the privilege to kind of just fuck with people, like famous European jester, Nasir Ed Din. In one of his many stories, Nasir’s king had just looked in a mirror, and once he finally got a look at how old and saggy he was, he kind of just started crying, proving that no, not all old dudes are as shit-stompingly bad-ass as Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino (and real life). In a pretty unsettling coincidence, this king’s court was also completely made up of men with very miniscule nuts, so when they saw the king crying, they all just started crying too. So after this entire room of grown men crying like schoolgirls had finally dried their tears with their tampons or whatever, they all started looking around and noticed that the jester, Nasir Ed Din was still bawling his eyes out. The King asked why he was still going at it, Nasir looked right at him, and said “Sire, you looked at yourself in the mirror for but a moment and you cried. I have to look at you all the time.” At which point, one of the earls present yelled out “BOOM! ROASTED!” and mirthful bro-slaps were given all around.
You're mom's pretty ugly too. No offense bro.

Admittedly, Nasir got away with shit like that because, in case you hadn’t noticed, his King wasn’t exactly the “OFF WITH HIS HEAD,” type; he was more like the Dean Pelton from Community type, in that he probs dressed like a woman when he thought he could get away with it. But seriously, when it came right down to it, a jester’s main duty was to entertain their king, but the second shit got personal, you could bet your ass that all the smarmy wit in the world wasn’t going to save him from the chopping block, the agonizing stress of which may have been one of the many reasons why after the middle ages started to fade, and the renaissance started to flourish, clowns started to get… creepy. I am talking about, of course, the Italian Harlequin, or Arlecchino, who first appeared in the Divine Comedy, which in case you haven’t heard of it, I’ll sum up for you right now, is the story of some dick trying to earn redemption by pulling a Christmas Carol type scenario IN HELL. So yea, the Harlequin didn’t exactly have the best start to begin with (I mean Satan’s a dick-hole, but at least he started in heaven), and didn’t really resurface until the famous Commedia dell’Arte, a famous series of shows starring famous literary characters, that followed a formula that’s popular even today, of three characters, the first Zany, who was a clever servant that plotted against his masters, the second Zany, who was just his shit-for-brains henchman, and the third Zany, who was the token hot chick. Surprisingly, the Harlequin was at first cast as the second Zany, but as time progressed, and different writers wrote stories starring the characters, the second Zany went from being the fool (or the tool, if you will), to a smart, sly, acrobat, who wore a black or white mask, and was known mostly as a Pantomime character, which is like if you took a mime (already pretty freaky on its own), and mixed it with one of those creepy Goth-Twilight kids, basically resulting in Tim Burton’s black and white colored wet dream.

This clown was also known to partner with the new French clown, the Pierrot, who had the famous ruffled white collar, colorful clothes, and exaggerated face make-up, like the painted on smile, which would provide annoying avant-garde college students something else to talk about over their overpriced lattes (FUUUUCK, YES, OF COURSE ALL CLOWNS ARE SAD, THAT’S WHY THEY’RE NOT WORKING WITH YOUR DAD AT HIS BIG WALLSTREET ACCOUNTING FIRM, PAYING FOR THEIR OWN KIDS TO GO TO COLLEGE AND MAJOR IN LIBERAL FUCKING ARTS, NOW SHUT UP). The Pierrot, or white-face clown, became one of the most iconic clowning symbols in the world, especially after the birth of the circus industry in 1768, where Philip Astley toured around with his troupe of fellow entertainers. Philip is credited as the first circus clown because of his historic (at least in clown terms) act, of attempting to mount a horse, but comically failing each time, which has amused audiences back from when riding horses was cool, to now, when riding horses sucks (all the nut-crushing discomfort of riding a bike, with the added knowledge that what your riding probably hates you, and is waiting for you to slip up so it can fucking kick you to death in the face). And so the circus was born, many more popping up all over, becoming especially popular in America, where circuses would travel with carnivals from state to state during the 20th century, helping kids experience what it meant to grow up, while at the same time scarring them forever.
"Now kids, in court they're going to use this doll to ask where I touched you, and you'll say..."

Many agree that it was American pop-culture and entertainment that turned clowns into the frightening figures we see them as today, with movies like Stephen King’s It, Stephen Chiodo’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and the fucked up crazy serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was famous for assaulting and murdering at least 33 young boys, and became known as the “Killer Clown,” because of how, when he wasn’t being a complete psychopathic monster, he would attend charity events and birthday parties as a clown for entertainment. It is because of men like him, and many other nightmare-fueling clown characters, that there is actually a medical diagnosis for the fear of clowns, called coulrophobia, as well as a wet spot in the sheets of millions of kids all over the world who have recently attended a circus, called piss. Thankfully, as we all know, this isn’t the first time the United States of AMUHRICA has dropped the ball, and while they could never really clean up the mess, they did their best to remedy it for the people it affected. They’re called rodeo clowns, and they’re AWESOME.
All he can think right now is how much he wanted to be a lawyer.

Basically, men will capture feral clowns from the wild, then force them into a ring with one or more pissed off and totally killer bulls, and gather an audience to watch as the clown runs for its life from 400 to 500 pounds of pent up rage and muscle. It’s like back in the Roman era, when Christians were captured and put in the Coliseum to fight off lions and tigers and shit, y’know, back in the good old days? So hey, that’s about all you need to know. Yes, clowns are scary like accidentally saying the ‘N’ word at a Black Pride rally, but they weren’t always that way, in fact, they used to be pretty chill. And besides, in today’s modern world, we have ways of dealing with clowns, so you don’t have to be so afraid. They’re called police and guns, use them as often as possible, whenever possible.

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