Bring in the Clowns: The History and Meaning of Clowning Around
Clowns are one of the most recognizable and popular forms of entertainment in the world. They are usually associated with circuses, carnivals, comedy, and children's parties. But what is the origin and purpose of clowning? How did clowns evolve from ancient rituals to modern performers? And what does the phrase \"bring in the clowns\" mean? In this article, we will explore the history and meaning of clowning around.
Clowns are performers who use physical comedy, exaggerated gestures, costumes, makeup, props, and sometimes words to amuse and entertain audiences. Clowns often play on the contrast between their appearance and behavior, such as being clumsy, foolish, naive, or mischievous. Clowns can also use satire, parody, irony, or absurdity to make fun of themselves or others. Clowns can be solo or work in groups, and can perform in various settings, such as theaters, arenas, streets, or television.
What is the Origin of Clowns?
The origin of clowns can be traced back to ancient cultures around the world. Clowns have been found in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, India, Africa, Native America, and Europe. Clowns often had religious or ceremonial roles in these cultures, such as acting as intermediaries between humans and gods, spirits, or ancestors. Clowns also had social and political roles, such as commenting on current events, challenging authority, or expressing dissent. Clowns were also used for healing purposes, such as bringing joy and laughter to sick or troubled people.
How did Clowns Evolve?
Clowns evolved over time as different cultures and traditions influenced each other. Some of the most notable types of clowns are:
Court jesters: These were clowns who entertained royalty and nobility in medieval Europe. They wore colorful costumes and hats with bells, and used wit, humor, music, and acrobatics to amuse their masters. They also had the privilege of speaking freely and criticizing the powerful without fear of punishment.
Commedia dell'arte: This was a form of improvised theater that originated in Italy in the 16th century. It featured stock characters who wore masks and costumes that represented their personality and social status. Some of these characters were clowns, such as Arlecchino (Harlequin), a clever and agile servant who wore a patchwork suit; Pierrot (Pedrolino), a naive and melancholic lover who wore a white outfit; and Pantalone (Pantalone), a greedy and lustful old man who wore red trousers.
Circus clowns: These are clowns who perform in circuses or other traveling shows. They emerged in the 18th century in England and France as part of equestrian acts. They later developed into separate acts that involved acrobatics, stunts, gags, pranks, slapstick comedy, and interaction with animals or audience members. Some of the most famous circus clowns are Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), who popularized the whiteface clown with colorful clothes and makeup; Emmett Kelly (1898-1979), who created the tramp clown with a sad face and ragged clothes; and Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), who brought the tramp clown to film with his silent movies.
Modern clowns: These are clowns who perform in various media and genres in the 20th and 21st centuries. They include television clowns such as Bozo (Larry Harmon), Krusty (Dan Castellaneta), and Ronald McDonald (Willard Scott); musical clowns such as Spike Jones (1911-1965), Victor Borge (1909-2000), and Weird Al Yankovic (1959-); horror clowns such as Pennywise (Tim Curry) from Stephen King's It; activist clowns such as Patch Adams (1945-) who uses clowning for humanitarian causes; and artistic clowns such as Marcel Marceau (1923-2007) who uses mime to create poetic images.
What Does \"Bring in the Clowns\" Mean?
The phrase \"bring in the clowns\" has different meanings depending on the context. One possible meaning is to introduce some humor or entertainment to lighten up a tense or boring situation. Another possible meaning is to imply that something is ridiculous or absurd. A third possible meaning is to express disappointment or regret over a missed opportunity or a failed relationship.
The phrase is most famously used as the title of a song by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music. The song is sung by the character Desirée, who reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life after being rejected by her former lover Fredrik. The song has been recorded by many artists such as Frank Sinatra (1973), Judy Collins (1975), Barbra Streisand (1985), Krusty the Clown (1993), Madonna (2016), among others.
What are the Benefits of Clowning Around?
Clowning around is not just a way of having fun, but also a way of improving various aspects of one's physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. Some of the benefits of clowning around are:
Physical health: Clowning around involves moving, jumping, dancing, and laughing, which can help improve one's cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and immunity. Clowning around can also reduce stress, pain, and fatigue.
Mental health: Clowning around stimulates one's creativity, imagination, memory, and problem-solving skills. Clowning around can also enhance one's mood, self-esteem, confidence, and resilience.
Emotional health: Clowning around allows one to express and regulate one's emotions in a healthy and positive way. Clowning around can also help one cope with difficult situations, such as trauma, loss, or illness.
Social health: Clowning around fosters one's communication, cooperation, empathy, and respect for others. Clowning around can also help one build and maintain relationships, as well as overcome social anxiety or isolation.
How to Bring in the Clowns for Your Next Event?
If you want to bring in the clowns for your next event, whether it is a birthday party, a wedding, a corporate function, or a community festival, you need to consider some factors such as:
The type of clowns: There are different types of clowns that suit different occasions and audiences. For example, you can choose between circus clowns, musical clowns, horror clowns, activist clowns, or artistic clowns. You can also choose between solo or group clowns.
The budget: The cost of hiring clowns depends on various factors such as the number of clowns, the duration of the performance, the location of the event, the equipment and materials needed, and the reputation and experience of the clowns. You can compare different quotes from different clowns or agencies before making a decision.
The availability: The availability of clowns depends on their schedule and demand. You need to book them well in advance to avoid disappointment. You also need to confirm their arrival time and contact details before the event.
The feedback: The feedback of previous clients can help you evaluate the quality and professionalism of the clowns. You can check their reviews online or ask for references from people who have hired them before.
Once you have chosen and booked your clowns, you can sit back and enjoy their performance. You can also join in the fun and interact with them if you wish. Remember to thank them after the event and leave them a review if you are satisfied with their service.
What are Some Examples of Clowning Around?
Clowning around can be seen in various forms and contexts, such as:
Theater: Clowning around is an essential part of theater, especially comedy. Many famous playwrights, such as William Shakespeare, Molière, and Oscar Wilde, have used clowns as characters or devices to create humor, irony, or satire. Some examples of theater clowns are Feste from Twelfth Night, Scapin from The Miser, and Algernon from The Importance of Being Earnest.
Film: Clowning around is also a common element in film, especially in genres such as slapstick, parody, or animation. Many famous actors, directors, and animators have used clowns as protagonists or antagonists to create laughter, suspense, or emotion. Some examples of film clowns are Charlie Chaplin from The Tramp, Mel Brooks from Blazing Saddles, and Woody from Toy Story.
Music: Clowning around can also be found in music, especially in genres such as opera, musical theater, or pop. Many famous composers, lyricists, and singers have used clowns as themes or motifs to create drama, romance, or nostalgia. Some examples of music clowns are Pagliacci from Pagliacci, Send In the Clowns from A Little Night Music, and Smiley Faces from Gnarls Barkley.
Hospital: Clowning around can also be used for therapeutic purposes, especially in hospitals or hospices. Many professional clowns or volunteers have used clowning as a way of cheering up patients, especially children, who are suffering from illness or injury. Some examples of hospital clowns are Patch Adams from Patch Adams Foundation, Dr. Clown from Dr. Clown Foundation, and Clown Care Unit from Big Apple Circus.
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How to Become a Clown?
If you are interested in becoming a clown, whether for professional or personal reasons, you need to consider some factors such as:
The type of clown: As mentioned before, there are different types of clowns that suit different occasions and audiences. You need to decide what kind of clown you want to be, such as circus clown, musical clown, horror clown, activist clown, or artistic clown. You also need to decide whether you want to be a solo or a group clown.
The skills: Being a clown requires various skills, such as physical comedy, exaggerated gestures, costumes, makeup, props, and sometimes words. You need to practice and master these skills according to your chosen type of clown. You also need to develop other skills, such as improvisation, communication, cooperation, empathy, and respect.
The training: There are different ways of getting trained as a clown, such as attending a clown school or workshop, joining a clown troupe or club, or learning from a mentor or online. You can choose the method that suits your budget, schedule, and preference. You can also get certified as a clown by taking exams or courses from recognized organizations.
The opportunities: There are different opportunities for clowns to perform and earn money, such as working for a circus or a carnival, performing at parties or events, appearing on television or film, teaching or volunteering at schools or hospitals, or creating your own shows or projects. You can look for these opportunities online or offline, or create your own opportunities by networking and marketing yourself.
Becoming a clown can be a rewarding and fulfilling career or hobby that can bring joy and laughter to yourself and others. However, it also requires dedication, passion, and hard work. If you are ready to take on the challenge and the fun of being a clown, then go ahead and bring in the clowns!
In this article, we have explored the history and meaning of clowning around. We have learned that clowns are performers who use physical comedy, exaggerated gestures, costumes, makeup, props, and sometimes words to amuse and entertain audiences. We have also learned that clowns have a long and rich history that spans across different cultures and traditions. We have also learned that clowns have different types and roles that suit different occasions and audiences. We have also learned that clowns have various benefits for one's physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. We have also learned that clowns can be seen in various forms and contexts, such as theater, film, music, and hospital. We have also learned that clowns can be trained and hired in different ways, depending on one's budget, schedule, and preference.
Clowning around is not just a way of having fun, but also a way of improving various aspects of one's life. Clowning around can help one cope with stress, pain, or boredom; express and regulate one's emotions; stimulate one's creativity and imagination; enhance one's mood and self-esteem; build and maintain relationships; and make a positive difference in the world. Clowning around can also help one appreciate the beauty and humor of life, even in the face of challenges or difficulties.
If you want to bring in the clowns for your next event, whether it is a birthday party, a wedding, a corporate function, or a community festival, you need to consider some factors such as the type of clowns, the budget, the availability, and the feedback. You can also join in the fun and interact with them if you wish. Remember to thank them after the event and leave them a review if you are satisfied with their service.
If you are interested in becoming a clown, whether for professional or personal reasons, you need to consider some factors such as the type of clown, the skills, the training, and the opportunities. You also need to practice and master these factors according to your chosen type of clown. You also need to develop other factors such as improvisation, communication, cooperation, empathy, and respect. You can also get certified as a clown by taking exams or courses from recognized organizations.
Becoming a clown can be a rewarding and fulfilling career or hobby that can bring joy and laughter to yourself and others. However, it also requires dedication, passion, and hard work. If you are ready to take on the challenge and the fun of being a clown, then go ahead and bring in the clowns! d282676c82