In this session we talk creepy Clowns. Listen now.
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Though Clowns trace their origins back as early as 2400 B.C., the modern “whiteface” clown we know today was popularized by Joseph Grimaldi back in 1801. At an age when theatrical productions were extremely popular, Grimaldi made his mark entertaining audiences every night with his pantomime comedy shows. Though he was beloved by audiences, Grimaldi was far from happy- in fact, he was extremely depressed and had a pension for booze. Because Grimaldi had become such a star, the clown he invented became closely associated with him and his actions outside of the theater; people began to question the duplicitous nature of the person behind the clown makeup. Grimaldi died penniless and an alcoholic in 1837; the coroner’s actual description read “Died by the visitation of God.”
Though Grimaldi’s grim nature outside of the clown makeup did lead people to feel a bit uneasy around him, it would be Charles Dickens’ Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi (released after Grimaldi’s death) that would popularize the notion of clowns as duplicitous people who couldn’t be trusted. Released in 1838, Dickens’ Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi painted him as a figure who quite literally destroyed himself to make his audiences laugh. After reading Dickens’ book, it was difficult for people to look at clowns and not wonder what was going on behind the make-up. The Grimaldi Memoirs proved to be extremely popular which meant this perception of the clown as a dark and troubled individual who tries to mask his pain with humor (and make-up) would ultimately stick. Long story short, Charles Dickens is mostly responsible for creating the notion of the creepy or scary clown.
The Joker – “A Death in the Family” and “The Killing Joke”
A Death in the Family is a unique comic story arc in that it prompted audience participation as fans could actually vote (via a 900 number) whether Robin would be killed or not. Ultimately, the Boy Wonder lost the vote and was killed of by the Joker himself. If you haven’t read this story arc yet, we highly recommend it as the brutality the Joker displays while killing Robin is something that will stay with you for a bit. It is a true testament to just how crazy and scary the Joker is… and if you’re not afraid of clowns now, after reading this story arc, you definitely will be. Trust us.
Of similar vain, 1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke, penned by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, is widely considered the greatest Joker story ever told. In it, the Joker not only kidnaps and terrorizes Commissioner Gordon, but he ends up shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). As if that isn’t reason enough for a read, a rather interesting Joker origin story is presented to us and we gain some great insight into Batman’s greatest nemesis. Definitely go out of your way to read The Killing Joke if you haven’t done so already. We couldn’t recommend the story any higher. It will certainly get you to understand why we consider the Joker to be one of the most notorious evil clowns of all time.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, played brilliantly by Tim Curry, single handedly created a fear of clowns in the Diabolical Penthouse. Not only is Pennywise considered the face of evil (and clowns for that matter), Tim Curry delivers such a haunting performance, you won’t soon forget him or the film. Just take one look at the eyes and tell us you aren’t unnerved.
Artwork Provided By:
Mike Walton: http://quasilucid.deviantart.com/