Clowns in uproar over new study

i-c6ce92697ea411b6c387152d6b07811c-150clownslovechildren.gifI'm sure it's a rough life being a clown, you know... driving a clown car with 18 other passengers in the driver seat alone, walking and tripping around with those really big shoes, and hours of makeup application. But their job is about to get a lot harder, a new study in a nursing journal shows that kids are terrified of clowns.

A poll by researchers looking at what decor to put in hospital children's wards found that youngsters do not like clowns on the walls and even older ones think they are scary.

"We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable," said Penny Curtis, senior researcher at the University of Sheffield which questioned 250 children aged between four and 16.

But their findings, published in a nursing magazine on Wednesday, has put the red noses of the clowning community out of joint.

In a deluge of emails to Reuters, they say they misrepresent just how popular they really are.

I'm with the survey participants - keep those clowns away from me! Creeeepy. If you're freaked out by clowns you might want to head over to

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Having once been a small child myself, I can attest to the scariness of clowns. Little kids learn early how dangerous grownups can be. Learning to correctly read facial expressions, tone of voice, and posture are vital to survival. When a grownup masks his face, hides his stance under baggy clothing, and either speaks in a false voice or does not speak at all, a little kid has no chance to anticipate the violence that may erupt at any moment.

Grownups inflict clowns on children interpret their screams as squeals of delight. Well, most grownups are insane, so it figures.

And the scariest clown of all? Santa Claus.

I think there should be a distinction between the whiteface rent-a-clown and other varieties...

there is a long ways between Denis Lacombe and Bozo. David Shiner and your average Ringling Bros. hack. there is a big mistaken impression by some that to be funny all you have to do to be funny is put on whiteface and make broad moves. which isn't to say it's impossible, but it takes a lot more skill than most credit.

red noses, btw, are fantastic in cold climates.

sorry, just realized some bad editing in my comment, cutting and pasting does not take good grammar into consideration... (or redundancy...)

Clowns are scary. That's kind of their point. In controlled situations (like a circus) that's good - children, like adults, do like a modicum of controlled fear, scary things that can't hurt them - hence scary movies and roller coasters and so on. In fact, one thing babies love is being tossed in the air by someone they KNOW will catch them. Controlled falling - fear under control. But random clowns - clowns out of pocket - clowns on the wallpaper? Nightmare material. Of course kids are scared of them.

I admit it.. one of my favorite movies is "Killer Clowns From Outerspace".

John Wayne Gacey was a clown....

And Bill Dembski IS a clown.

Both pretty scary.

"Can't sleep. Clown will eat me.
Can't sleep. Clown will eat me."

somebody had to say it

By Paul Flocken (not verified) on 22 Jan 2008 #permalink

Oooohhhhhh, those clowns.
I thought it was about the Bush Administration. Now THAT'S scary.

By scienceteacher… (not verified) on 22 Jan 2008 #permalink

When I went to the circus as a kid, I found the clowns disturbing because they were performing all kinds of violence on each other. Slapstick, of course, but as a kid, it's different seeing live people pretending to be violent, and watching cartoons on TV. You know drawings can't feel pain. People can, though, and big paddles and giant needles look horrible. Come to think of it, they are miming corporal punishment and a painful trip to the doctor's office in some circus routines? It's like they WANT to trigger a typical child's fears.
Bloody clowns.

By Samantha Vimes (not verified) on 23 Jan 2008 #permalink

I hate clows, always did. I did not ever laugh at a clown's antics anywhere. I remember one summer evening as a child, walking through a back alley trying to get home before dark (my curfew) and reminiscing about the days stupidness that children often engage in. Laughing to myself and nonchalantly whacking a stick off the back of a garage, I turned the corner and freaking clown was coming around at the same time in the opposite direction. He did this weird smile and that thing where they put their hands up alongside their face and nod their heads from side to side. Then he patted me on the head and kept on walking. I just sat their frozen, pretty much feeling like I just escaped death. I vividly remember this encounter and am still waiting to heap my revenge upon clowns. Such a trauma will not stand.