It’s no secret that clowns make people uncomfortable.
Believe it or not, that’s the point: Clowns were created to test social conventions and speak truth to power, wagging their gloved fingers at institutional tomfoolery. When they’re right, we cheer them on—and when they’re wrong, usually in the most familiar, human way possible, they get their comeuppance in the form of painful or embarrassing pratfalls.
To top it all it all off, clowns put many people on edge with their suspiciously cheerful costumes, exaggerated facial features, and seeming lack of impulse control.
“In many cultures, clowns would do things that were considered forbidden.”
You would think that, as the New York Daily News erroneously assumed, since clowns are more reviled than ever, no one in their right mind would want the job, and the tradition would be dying out in the United States and Canada.
But the truth is North America still has more clowns than it knows what do to with.
In the same article in which the Daily News asserted a shortage, it also reported that 531 clowns applied to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus last year, and “The Greatest Show on Earth” only hired 11.
That’s 520 out-of-work clowns—quite the opposite of a shortage.