Don’t send in the clowns
LONDON (Reuters) – According to a story released today by Reuters, children don’t like clowns and even older kids are scared of them.
The news that will no doubt have clowns shedding tears was revealed in a poll of youngsters by researchers from the University of Sheffield who were examining how to improve the decor of hospital children’s wards.
The study, reported in the Nursing Standard magazine, found all the 250 patients aged between four and 16 they quizzed disliked the use of clowns, with even the older ones finding them scary.
“As adults we make assumptions about what works for children,” said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university.
“We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.”
Interview with a scary-ass clown
MINNEAPOLIS (Wag the Dog) – In an interview today, Wag the Dog Investigative Journalist, Ole, met with local funnyman, Stiffy the Clown. The interview was conducted as a follow up to the disturbing Reuters’ report released earlier in the day stating children don’t like clowns. Following is a transcript from the tape-recorded meeting.
Ole: Stiffy, thanks for speaking with me today. I realize this can’t be easy. You look upset. Are you a sad clown?
Stiffy: It’s the makeup, and I prefer to be described as “forlorn”. “Sad clown” is a vulgar term in certain circles, and I’d rather not get into its meaning right now. But, yah, I’m upset. I mean, clowns are so misunderstood by today’s society.
Ole: Why do you think that is?
Stiffy: That’s a good question. My theory is that most people don’t get the whole slapstick comedy genre to which our art is allied. Then again, how do you explain the success of the Jackass MTV show and movies?
Ole: I can’t.
Stiffy: In the circus, the first thing the ringmaster does when a tragedy occurs is send in the clowns. I mean, let’s say someone falls from the trapeze and breaks their neck. They’re lying in the center of the ring looking like a pretzel. Maybe they have blood pouring out their ears or eyeballs or both. It’s the clown’s job to distract the audience from the tragedy that has occurred. I think this is a metaphor for life. Tragedy in our lives needs to be balanced by laughter.
Ole: That’s deep.
Stiffy: Yah, man… I know. Having this sort of insight can drive a clown crazy. Ever heard of John Wayne Gacy?
Ole: Uhhh… getting back to the Reuters’ story. Do you think it’s just sick kids that have an aversion to clowns or do you think coulrophobia is universal?
Stiffy: Colo what?
Ole: Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.
Stiffy: You mean there’s a disease that causes the fear of clowns?
Ole: No, not a disease. It’s a phobia. A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it’s not dangerous. Phobias are a relatively common type of anxiety disorder. For example, I have a phobia of postal carriers. Know what I mean?
Stiffy: I guess so. Big daisies freak me out. I’m always expecting water to come shooting out of them. What’s that called? Is there a phobia for the fear of squirting flowers?
Ole: Um… I don’t think so.
Stiffy: Anyway, regarding your question about why sick kids don’t like clowns, I really can’t explain it. I was at the children’s hospital making balloon animals for kids one time. I make a real nice wiener dog, so I always lead with this.
Ole: Of course, but I believe this particular breed of dog prefers to be called “Dachsund.”
Stiffy: Whatever. So, I’m making a Datsun, and this cancer kid says he wants a dinosaur. Well, I don’t do dinosaurs. That’s Chuckles’ specialty, but he was downtown getting liquored up with his stripper girlfriend because it was her 21st birthday. You know, you’ve got to keep your lady happy, especially if your 42 years old and your vocation is “clown.”
Ole: Sure, I understand. Go on.
Stiffy: So, I says to the kid, “Look, I don’t do dinosaurs. How about an alligator?” And the kid starts freaking out and screaming, “But I want a dinosaur!” I don’t know what to do. The kid’s insane or something. So, I reach toward him, you know, to pat him on the head and calm him down. But he winds up and punches me in the balls.
Stiffy: You’re not kidding, brother! I can’t count how many times I’ve either been punched or kicked in the nads by some snot-nosed brat.
Ole: But this wasn’t just some snot-nosed brat. This was a child inflicted with cancer.
Stiffy: I know, I know. But that doesn’t give him the right to punch my junk does it?
Ole: I guess I don’t know the protocol in this particular situation, but I sense there’s really no good reason for such an unprovoked attack.
Stiffy: You’re telling me? That’s why I always wear a cup.
Ole: Good idea. I suppose you should always be prepared for the unexpected in your line of work.
Stiffy: That’s right.
Stiffy: Well, listen. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve got a gig in Bloomington at the Mall of America that I need to get to. The car will be here pretty soon to pick me up.
Ole: Oh, wow. They’re sending you a limo?
Stiffy: No, a clown car.
Ole: Of course.
Stiffy: There are nine other clowns in my posse, and they’ll be here any minute to pick me up. It’s going to take us at least two hours to travel the 15 miles to the mall. Our car only goes about 10 miles per hour, plus we’ll be fighting rush hour traffic the whole way, not to mention the stench from Hobo Willy’s smelly ass. We drive on the shoulder, but we have to be on the lookout for metro buses that do the same.
Ole: Right… well, I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts with me today. Good luck to you.
Stiffy: Not a problem. Thank you for caring enough to do this follow up story. Put ‘er there!
[Ole’s summary notes]
As I got up to leave the meeting, Stiffy extended his gloved hand to thank me for the interview. I should’ve known he was wearing a joy buzzer. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me in time, so once my paw received a jolt I instinctively tore into Stiffy’s arm, leaving a gash that would require 14 stitches. Our attorneys are currently working out a settlement, and it’s looking like I’ll be providing Stiffy with a lifetime’s supply of balloons. I guess it could’ve been worse.