A clown ran for public office – and no, that’s not the beginning of a joke.
On Sept. 15, 1864, America’s most famous circus clown, Dan Rice, accepted the Democratic nomination for the Pennsylvania State Senate.
And it was just his first foray into politics: Even while continuing his career as a clown, a state convention later considered him as a candidate for Congress, and, in 1867, he made a brief but legitimate run for president.
While the idea of a clown running for office sounds like a gimmick, in the 1860s it was taken seriously — because circus itself was taken seriously, as adult fare.
Long before it was relegated to children’s entertainment, early circus in this country combined what appealed to grown-up tastes: sex, violence, political commentary and, in a horse-based culture, top-notch horsemanship.
George Washington attended the first circus in 1793 in Philadelphia not for family-friendly amusement — a notion that didn’t emerge until the 1880s — but as a horseman keen to see animals and humans working together at a peak level.
Sex and violence enhanced the appeal. Like later burlesque comedians, talking clowns told dirty jokes in a titillating whirl of the scantily clad: Circus acrobats and riders showed more skin — or flesh-colored fabric that seemed to be skin — than could be seen anywhere else in public life.
Read on via The Civil War’s Most Famous Clown – NYTimes.com.
What is “Coulrophobia”?
It is the irrational fear of Clowns.
Since it is not an old phobia, but one that has increased in recent decades, little is known about coulrophobia.
Scientists and doctors now agree that it is a result of not knowing who lies behind the excessive makeup, red nose and hair color.
Some researchers believe that coulrophobia cases increased after the 1990s, when Steven Spielberg classic horror film “IT” depicting a murderous clown was released.
The phobia can cause a state of panic, difficulty in breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and feelings of fear.
Coulrphobia may seem absurd for some, however, many people suffer so much, that it prevents them from eating a hamburger in that famous fast food chain.
It is not a trivial matter either and coulrophobia shouldn’t be treated lightly.
Although the fear of clowns develops most of the time during childhood, when children are very sensitive to an unfamiliar face, it is also prevalent amongst adults.
My Pathetic Story:
I have had Coulrophobia since being a child when my Dad took me to a small Aussie circus behind the Maid of Auckland Hotel on South Road, Edwardstown in South Australia.
It would have been in the mid to late 1950s.
Apart from falling down between those horrid walk boards while I was trying to find my seat I was terrorised by an evil looking Clown with a stick and a rubber horn.
He barked like a dog and I was so terrified that I screamed like a little girlie and have been mortified by Clowns ever since.
People thought I was joking when I couldn’t bear to watch “Bozo” or was it “Bobo” the Clown on Channel 9 Kid’s Television in the late 1950s in Adelaide?
It’s all true, and now I know it has got a name “Coulrophobia”.
My first mobile phone was an analog “brick” given to me as a “hand me down” as part of my job as a union organiser.
At the time, I thought about how I had managed to do my job quite successfully over the years without a mobile phone.
Then my son Danny taught me how to use a laptop, with very little explanation I might add.
After some time I signed up with Twitter only because 140 characters for a tweet seemed achievable even for me. Nowadays, I don’t use Twitter.
Facebook was a disaster because my account was soon hacked and people were receiving all sorts of strange messages from me that made me sound like a raving loony pervert.
What annoyed me about Facebook was I was swamped with useless bits of information about people’s lives. I didn’t want to know if they had tomato sauce on their pie for lunch or whether they had a decent bowel movement that morning. I no longer use Facebook.
“Truthfully though, I do find a mobile phone useful in emergency situations and texting people is practical because no-one seems to answer voice mail anymore”.
Only God knows what it is like for some of my older friends.
If they have a query with a Government department they ring the relevant section and after waiting for an hour they are told by a voice it’s quicker to look it up on their home computer.
What bloody computer?
Most of my friends who are over 80 don’t have a computer.
It’s cruel you know to put that sort of pressure on older people who are just trying to stay alive.
No wonder there are so many scams committed against older people on the internet.
Luckily, I have an eight year old grandson Seamus who is a kind boy and helps me out, whenever I need help.
The Adelaide to Brighton train of a night was populated with some real Guv talent, like Jack Taylor, Lew Morrison, “Rags” Elsdon, Leigh McCormack, Ian Ingham, Mike Fuss, Barrie Basford and Parham.
It is rumoured that the Brighton passengers used to have a real fun time getting home.
When Parham started at the Guv in 1973, he lived in Mile End when it was a pretty rundown part of Adelaide.
He used to travel the short distance from the Mile End Wood platform into the city.
Getting to work was easy, going home was much harder for the “Delmont Medallist”.
The problem occurred on the nights that he worked overtime.
After a strenuous day hiding from the Gazette Staff and Cyril “The Clown” Barson and bullshitting about how good Gough Whitlam was, he was properly knackered.
How could you get distracted from Adelaide to Mile End?
Easy if you are a pretentious Dickhead.
The Guv blokes on the train would engage him in conversation about Union issues.
Soon the sleepy Parham would have sailed on past Keswick, Forestville, Emerson, Edwardstown, Oaklands Park, Warradale and on to Hove.
He never went further than Hove.
In the dim lights of the Hove Station you could see him running over to the opposite platform to start the long journey back to Mile End.
It happened more than once!
Joey Grimaldi, the greatest clown of the 19th century, made his debut at the age of four in The Triumph of Mirth.
The triumph was hard-won. His father, a fine and original clown himself, was a monster Dickens would have been proud to have invented, a savage brute (known as the Signor, but more generally referred to as Grim-All-Day) whose idea of training children for the theatre was to put them in the stocks or suspend them in a cage 40ft above the stage.
He routinely beat his wife and terrified the household with his obsession with his own death. The devil had informed him in a dream that he would die on the first Friday of the month, whereafter the Signor kept vigil on that day, every month, in a room filled with clocks, gibbering till dawn.
His favourite reading was The Uncertainty of Signs of Death; his dread of being buried alive led him to stipulate in his will that when he died his children should sever his head from his body, a task duly performed by his daughter, who kept a hand on the saw worked by the surgeon hired for the purpose.
Anyone who could survive Grim-All-Day could survive anything, you might think. Andrew McConnell Stott, in this great big Christmas pudding of a book, almost over-stuffed with rich and colourful life, notes the cost to Joey of his upbringing, but also observes that it was at the core of his work.
If you wanted to breed a clown, the Signor was perhaps the perfect parent, whose “arbitrary justice and irrationality had led him to understand the world as a shifting plane of ambiguities, void of the anchors of reason and authority a parent conventionally provides”. Well, yes, but was he funny?