A Brief History of Clowning in the United States
June 8, 2010
A clown is a person who performs in unusual ways to make people laugh. People often think of a baggy-pants circus performer doing pratfalls but clowning ranges from broad physicality to subtle wordplay, and includes comedians of stage, television and movies.
“Clown” also refers to symbols that shape how people understand this comic performer. The history of these symbols— kids’ friend, crude buffoon, free spirit, sad figure hiding tears, truth-telling trickster — inevitably weaves through the history of clowns.