The History Of Fearing Clowns

The History Of Fearing Clowns

Coulrophobia is real.

Clowns. That one word alone is enough to send shivers down someone's spine. In today's age, it seems that whenever clowns are mentioned the image to pop into people's minds are creepy, cold blooded killers. But it wasn't always this way. When did this change, and why?

Clowns have been around a lot longer than what most people would think. They've made an appearance in several cultures through history, from Ancient Rome to Ancient Egypt dating back to 2500 BCE. These clowns had one job: to make people laugh. And that's what they did. However, the image of a happy clown began to deteriorate with the man who is seen as the first notable ancestor to the modern clown, Joseph Grimaldi. He was the first to bring about the look we associate with clowns today: pure white face with bright red cheeks and elaborate, colorful costumes. He was very well known all over London. However, Grimaldi’s real life was not as happy and cheerful as the life he portrayed on stage. He grew up with a tyrannical father, suffered from depression and alcoholism, had a very strained relationship with his only son who also turned to alcoholism, and suffered extreme joint pain from all his antics from performing as a clown. Once he died Charles Dickens wrote Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi, illustrating the extreme pain Grimaldi put himself through just to make others laugh. This caused people to wonder, what's behind the mask of a clown? What pain are they hiding?

Enter Jean-Gaspard Deburau, a famous clown/mime in Paris. He was as famous in Paris as Grimaldi was in London. While Grimaldi’s life showed people what's hiding behind the mask of a happy stage clown, Deburau was the one who planted the seed for the sinister, killer clown. In 1836, Deburau killed a young boy on the street with a blow from his walking stick after yelling insults at Deburau.

Clowning shifted from stage to circus in Europe, and after a while clowning spread to America. Circus clown made people uneasy in the over dramatic ways they moved and their eccentric behavior, being described as “reminding one of the courtyard of a lunatic asylum.” When the television age came around clowns became widely popular as children entertainers, such as Bozo the Clown. Clowns had shifted from an adult audience to children, so they were expected to be innocent. But the lives of Grimaldi and Deburau had people still wondering, what was behind the mask?

Along comes the clown Pogo, or who most people know as John Wayne Gacy. To the public eye was a friendly and hardworking man, and a great clown who entertained at children's parties and fundraising events. However beneath the mask was a man more sinister than anyone could imagine. Between 1972 and 1978 Gacy sexually assisted and killed at least 33 young men. Before his arrest, he told investigating officers: “You know… clowns can get away with murder.” Gacy turned people's uneasiness towards clowns into full on fear.

After Gacy, killer clowns became a hit in movies and books. Stephen Kings popular novel It and movies such as Clownhouse only amplified people's fear. Clowns are now associated with fear and death, not humor and happiness like they were in the past. Clowns make appearances in haunted houses, or even on the streets like during “clown-pocalypse” with one purpose: to frighten others.

I know one thing for sure, if I ever see a clown on the street I'm running as fast as I can the other way.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

Popular Right Now

9 Eligible Princes You Need To Know About Now That Prince Harry Is Off The Market

You too could have a Meghan Markle fairytale

Prince Harry's royal wedding is officially over and there won't be another British royal wedding for quite some time now, as Prince George is way too young to start thinking about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other countries with plenty of other princes that are still eligible bachelors at the moment. Lucky for you, I did my research and compiled a list of all the eligible princes you need to know about know that Prince Harry has tied the knot with Meghan Markle.

1. Prince Louis of Luxembourg (31)

Prince Louis is the third son of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. He has recently become a bachelor again after his separation with his wife of 10 years, Princess Tessy.

Fun Fact: He graduated from Richmond, The American International University of London with a BA in Communications. He can also speak Luxembourgish (the fact that's even a language is fun fact by itself), French, German, and English fluently.

2. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg (26)

Prince Sebastien is the youngest child of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg, so if you marry him, you'll probably never actually be queen because he's pretty far removed from the throne. However, he's relatively young and single, so best of luck.

Fun Fact: For some bizarre reason, this prince actually went to college in Ohio. He played rugby and graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. Now, he is back in his home country and is an officer in the Luxembourg Army.

3. Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark (34)

You read that correctly, Prince Phillipos is the prince of not one, but two countries. He is the youngest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark. Unfortunately, Greece abolished their monarchy, so he's a prince in name only there.

Fun Fact: Like Prince Sebastien, Prince Phillipos also went to college in the United States. He earned his B.A. in foreign relations from Georgetown University in 2008. Fortunately, for us American girls, he is actually still living in the US and he works in New York City as an analyst at Ortelius Capital.

4. Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis (34)

Ever heard of Thurn and Taxis? No? Me neither. Anyways, Prince Albert is from the House of Thurn and Taxis, which is essentially a very old German aristocratic family. He is the son of Prince Johannes XI of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Gloria of Schonburg Glauchau. His family is well known for their breweries and castles, so unless you're gluten-free, you can't really complain.

Fun Fact: He's not just a prince. He's also a racecar driver and 10 years ago he was ranked 11th on Forbes Magazine's List of The 20 Hottest Young Royals.

5. Prince Mateen of Brunei (26)

Prince Mateen is basically like all the guys you already know, except he's royalty. He's the prince of Brunei, which is a small country on the island of Borneo, south of Vietnam. He is one of the five sons of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he also has seven sisters. Maybe that's a little different than the guys you know, but one thing he takes very seriously, just like most frat guys, is his Instagram.

Fun Fact: Mateen enjoys playing polo, flying in his private plane, cuddling cute wild animals, and keeping up his Insta game with 890k followers. You can follow him @tmski.

6. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (35)

Sheikh Hamdan also has a killer Instagram with 6.3 million followers. Anyways, Sheikh Hamdan is the billionaire crown prince of Dubai and the second son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and essentially the king of Dubai (Emir). He's actually next in line for the throne because his older brother died in 2015.

Fun Fact: Hamdan's hobbies include skydiving, zip lining, and diving, just to name a few, so if you're an adrenaline junkie, Sheikh Hamdan is the prince for you.

7. Prince Hussein of Jordan (23)

Prince Hussain is the son of the extremely beautiful, Queen Rania and Abdullah II of Jordan and next in line for the Jordanian throne. At 23, he's already a second lieutenant in the Jordanian Armed Forces and he was the youngest person ever to chair a UN Security Council Meeting

Fun Fact: Like Prince Phillippos, Prince Hussain also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Also, like Prince Mateen and Prince Hamdan, he's Insta famous with 1.3 million followers and you can follow him @alhusseinjo.

8. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark (19)

Like Prince Phillipos, Prince Constantine-Alexios also has two countries. Lucky for us though, he is also living in the US right now attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (like pretty much every other prince, amirite?) He is the oldest son of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Fun Fact: He's Prince William's godson, so that's pretty neat. However, if that wasn't cool enough, you might like to know that this Greek/Danish prince was actually born in New York. Oh yeah, you can also follow him on Instagram @alexiosgreece where he has 88.7k followers.

9. Prince Joachim of Belgium (26)

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este is the third child of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. Although he bears the title, "Prince of Belgium," he is also Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Prince of Modena. Unfortunately, he'll probably never actually be king in any of these countries as he is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.

Fun Fact: Prince Joachim has degrees in economics, management, and finance, but he decided to join the Nautical School in Brugge after completing college and is currently an officer in the Belgian Navy.

Hope is not lost for all you girls dreaming of finding a Prince Charming that's literally a prince. After reviewing the data, my best advice is to transfer to Georgetown where princes are basically around every corner.

Cover Image Credit: @meghantheduchessofsussexstyle/Instagram

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

How To Play The 'Portlandia' Drinking Game

"Disclaimer: The first episode will get you plastered." - my roommate.


Most drinking games have a lot of different rules and components—but not this one. There are no shots involved or "finish your drink when..." rules.

Drink when any of these situations or words come up.

1. Drink when the word "Portland" is seen.

Take a drink when you see the word "Portland". That means that the title sequence is a wild ride.

Warning: Whenever the scenes change, there's a "Portland" on the screen.

2. Drink whenever you hear the word "Portland".

Again, the title sequence is a wild ride.

3. Drink whenever Fred Armisen stutters.

This happens more often than you think.

This is a really short list of rules, but it's a really effective game.


Cover Image Credit:

Wikimedia Commons


Related Content

Facebook Comments