What is a Clown?

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What is a Clown?

One may wonder, what defines a clown? Is it the big feet, or the red nose? Or are you a clown if you have a squirting flower on your vest? How can you tell if someone is “good at” being a clown, or if they are just “clowning around”? Perhaps we can find some answers.

Dictionary.com defines a clown as:

a comic performer, as in a circus, theatrical production, or the like, who wears an outlandish costume and makeup and entertains by pantomiming common situations or actions in exaggerated or ridiculous fashion, by juggling or tumbling, etc.”

So there’s one train of thought on clowns. Here’s a definition of a clown from Merriam Webster:

someone who performs in a circus, who wears funny clothes and makeup, and who tries to make people laugh”

Now we all know that not all clowns perform in the circus… like Buddy! People put many definitions on what a clown is; some say you must go to clown school, some require you be registered with Clowns of America International and other clown associations, others say every inch of skin must be covered or you must wear a wig. It’s fairly unlikely that two people will have the same requirements of what makes a clown.

The most basic, true definition of a clown is someone who makes people laugh. It’s normally a dressed-up person doing goofy things to entertain an audience and bring out smiles all around.

However, there’s something different that brings clowning to a professional level. What is a professional clown?

The word clown used to mean “professional fool, professional or habitual jester” (Dictionary.com). So being a jester or fool is one part of being a clown. But we already got that, right? What more is required?

Well, a “professional”, as described by Oxforddictionaries.com, is A person engaged in a specified activity, especially a sport or branch of the performing arts, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime”, or “a person competent or skilled in a particular activity”.

So, if you put everything together, a professional clown is someone who dresses up in entertaining clothes and makeup, performs skillfully in whatever their art may be (i.e. juggling, magic, etc.), and makes people laugh as their livelihood. Now, there are many details that can be delved into, such as professional clown makeup and clothing and qualifications and etc., but if you’re making a living off of it and people like you, you’re probably doing a pretty good job at being a professional clown!

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