Circus? The Most Terrifying Art There Is

We love clowns? No we don’t! We are terrified of them, and for good, if deep reasons too.

We all love a circus – Well actually, this is not true.  A large part of going to a circus is being bored or scared out of our wits by supposedly funny clowns.  I know, there will be animal acts, jugglers and acrobats of various persuasions as well, and occasionally they are enough to make it worth the effort of going to the circus.  But generally (with the exception of the Good Old Cirque du Soleil) most circuses are tatty, boring and amateur.  But one thing that we can always rely upon is that the clowns will scare the hell out of us.

RBBB Clowns jung stevens burnes

Of late there has been a sort of move in the clown profession to clean up their act a bit, and to become less scary – but this is doomed to fail, as actually the whole point of clowns is to be seriously frightening.

The ones in the above photo show exactly what I mean – they are all friendly looking, grinning away at the camera, but can you imagine meeting even one of them late at night when you are alone on the street?   You would run a mile I guarantee it.

I have never really understood why they are so frightening, or even why they should be so…   Surely the idea is to make us happy not scared.


Looking at the photo above, the little girl’s reaction to that dreadful creature beside her is totally appropriate, and is typical of how kids really react to clowns – adults pretend to find them funny, but actually underneath, they are also scared and appalled by the creature in front of them.

If you were forced to be beside a clown such as the one above, what would you feel?   Happy?  I doubt it somehow.

So, OK, the function of a clown is thus to scare us out of our pants, well actually not so dramatic, more a question of confronting us with the terrifying imaginings we had as children (the Monster under the bed syndrome), a return to our most basic fears of the world about us.

In other words, they represent the same arcane powers that Medicine Men (and women) control in more primitive societies, only in the case of clowns we have somehow taken away their central function (curing the sick) and left ourselves with the other main aspect of medicine men, the ability to scare the Bejasus out of us.


Medicine man



See what I mean?   Essentially the same idea really.   So, and I know this is not an original thought, clowns are actually the modern equivalent of medicine men, no more and no less, and we are scared of them for the simple reason that we recognise them for what they actually are – powerful representatives of the powers who actually rule our lives.

Just to confirm this theory, here are some more photos of clowns and medicine men…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, I rest my case….  Clowns are nothing more nor less than the modern man’s medicine men…  Simple when you see that connection.

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