Know your Clowns

It is a common misconception that all clowns are the same and that they all do similar things. In fact there are four different types of clowns, some of which have several sub categories. You may have seen some, or all of these clowns before not knowing that each has its own rich history and distinct personality. Let’s journey into the world of Clown…

Whiteface Clown

The whiteface clown is the most sophisticated of the clowns. Developed by Joseph Grimaldi in 1801, this character has the most extravagant costume that could include a ruffled collar and a pointed hat. The whiteface clown has all exposed skin covered, while some in Europe cover the ears and some other features in red and black.

Auguste Clown

The August clown is traditionally a joker or fool. This is a clever character that has a much lower social status to the whiteface clown. Traditionally, the whiteface clown will instruct the August Clown to do his bidding. The August is an anarchist, often deliberately causing trouble with the whiteface clowns plans. The Auguste Clown exaggerates his features with red, white and black makeup. Clothes are often too small or too large, in clothes with bold colours or prints.

Tramp, Hobo and Bum

The most prevalent character clown in the American circus is the hobo, tramp or bum clown. There are subtle differences in the American character clown types. The primary differences among these clown types is attitude: according to American circus expert Hovey Burgess, they are (in order of class):

  • The Hobo: Migratory and finds work where he travels. Down on his luck but maintains a positive attitude.
  • The Tramp: Migratory and does not work where he travels. Down on his luck and depressed about his situation.
  • The Bum: Non-migratory and non-working.

Character Clown

The character Clown adopts a character, usually mimicking a known profession in a society. This could be a police officer, baker, butcher, etc… Their makeup is a comic slant on a normal human face, exaggerating certain features.

This is just a brief insight into the world of Clown. We will go back further in history and further afield in future posts.