How Clowning Went From Funny To Scary: An Evolution of Clowns

An Evolution of Clowning

Here at the Halloween Club, we understand that the art of clowning is a growing movement this spooktacular season. Besides our passion for getting you into an effectively jocular ensemble, this Halloween Club squad wants you to feel credentialed in your new artistic endeavors, as a clown. Hence, without further ado, here's the context you'll need to master the art of clowning.

The Art of the Clown

Artists who were discontented with conventional forms of art, such as painting and sculpture, have turned to performance as a means to rejuvenate their work. The focus on the body in so much performance art of the 1960s has sometimes been seen as a consequence of the abandonment of conventional mediums - a medium is just the means by which something is communicated or expressed. Clowning is performed through the mediums of physical comedy, acting, and mime.

Tragedy Mask 378229 via Halloween Club

Renaissance Clowns

The "clown" evolved from what was originally a trickster character of Commedia dell'arte, which was a type of theatre from Italy, popular in Europe from the 16th through the 18th century. This character was based on the "rustic fool" characters of ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Coulrophobia is the proper word for a fear of clowns. The English word "clown" is first recorded c. 1560, used in Shakespeare's works. The "clown" plays a main part in 17th and 19th century British Harlequinade theater. "Clown" becomes the given name of the stock character.

Source: Wikiwand

Evil Jester Adult Costume 137403

Circus Clowns

The circus clown developed in the 19th century. Tom Belling senior (1843–1900) developed the "red clown" or "Auguste" (Dummer August) character c. 1870 as a foil for the more sophisticated "white clown." Belling worked for Circus Renz in Vienna. Belling's costume became the template for the modern circus or children's clown, based on a "hobo" with a red nose, white makeup around the eyes and mouth, and oversized clothes and shoes. Belling's Auguste character was further popularized by Nicolai Poliakoff's "Coco" in the 1920s to 1930s.

Source: CollegeHumor

Freak Show Clown Adult Womens 373779

TV Network Era Clowns

In the United States, "Bozo the Clown," created by Alan W. Livingston, was a very influential Auguste character since the late 1950s character whose broad popularity peaked in the United States in the 1960s as a result of widespread franchising in early television. The Bozo Show premiered in 1960 and was received nationally via cable television on what is now WGN America from 1978 until 2001.

Source: OTRCat

Circus Clown Adult Unisex 013779

Birthday Clowns

Ronald McDonald was inspired by the Bozo character in the 1960s. Willard Scott, who had played Bozo during 1959–1962, first performed as McDonald's mascot in 1963 television spots. Based on the Bozo template, the US custom of "birthday clown", private contractors who offer to perform as clowns at children's parties, developed in the 1960s to 1970s. By the 1980s, the Bozo-derived clown character gave rise to the evil clown character, based on the clown's fundamentally threatening or frightening nature to children.

Source: Pinterest

Red Jumbo Clown Afro Wig 397083

Evil Clowns

The "evil clown" stock character was then popularized by Stephen King's novel "It" (1986). Don't worry. You'll float too.

Source: DailyMail

IT The Movie Pennywise Makeup Kit 397186


(2017). "Clowns In Old Time Radio." OTRCat Inc.

(2017). "Explore Creepy Clown, Creepy Halloween, and More." Pinterest. Pinterest.

Grant, Hannah. (2014). "11 Reasons to Never Invite A Clown To A Party." CollegeHumor. ChMedia.
Hansen, Hans Peter. (2017). WikiWand. WikiWand.

Lenthang, Marlene. (2017). " A tiny terror: Three-year-old boy is transformed into creepy clown Pennywise for a terrifying photo shoot that is sure to give you nightmares." DailyMail. DailyMail.


Follow Halloween Club for more scary giveaways, deals and news or stop by a neighboring store near you for all your Halloween needs. Click here for directions.

Follow @halloweenclubs (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter...) via hashtags #HalloweenClub

Please email for all media inquiries.

Dubbed Southern California's favorite Halloween year-round costume super store, the Halloween Club has been spooking for over 30 years. Step foot inside one of our year warehouse and you'll find an impressive collection of Halloween costumes, accessories and decoration merchandise. Visitors are now friends, some friends are now family and the popularity of being a Halloween enthusiasts continues as an exponentially growing phenomenon. Generations of satisfied guests have moved zip codes but trek their way back to the Halloween Club. Why? Word on the street is Halloween Club does Halloween right. Get Halloween Club costume superstore directions here: