Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Menacing clowns giving humorists a bad rap


NORTH ADAMS — It's been a weird year for many reasons, but foremost among them is the sudden resurgence of clowns.

Yes, clowns. Clowns have been a big story for a number of months now, and it seems like it gets worse every day. Coulrophobia is the name for a fear of clowns, and while most of us may not have had this fear as of last year, after the past few months, nobody can be blamed for unease at the rise of the clowns.

There seem to be new sightings every week. Terrifying and creepy clowns, wearing ridiculous makeup and silly hair, making people feel unsafe. And I don't just mean the one running for president, although certainly he has continued to deliver more horribleness in recent weeks.

No, while there are certainly good reasons to fear the clown behind the podium, I'm talking about the reports of clown appearances in the woods and on random streets. So far, admittedly, most of these reports have turned out to be hoaxes.

In spite of the mass hysteria (which I guess clowns always hope to inspire), there has not been much in terms of verified clown assaults. Although "Verified Clown Assault" would be a good name for a band.

I understand why people would be afraid of clowns. They tend to show up a lot in horror movies. They sometimes band together in posses that have been known to be insane.

You can't even hit them in the face without getting gross makeup on your hand. In fact, the only way to defend yourself from a narcissistic clown is to go for his juggler vain.

But the group that really suffers from this clown hysteria aren't the clowns themselves or the people afraid of them, but the auxiliary group most often associated with clowns: humorists and comedians.

Because like most political commentators, I've decided this week's column should be devoid of empathy for others, and focus mainly on how things affect me. (I learned this from watching politicians last week denounce Trump's comments about women because some women are their daughters, rather than because women are people.)

For years, people have referred to comedians as clowns, since they are both in the business of trying to make people laugh. But I want to make very clear to those who are afraid of clowns that I am not a clown. Here are some key ways in which I differ from a clown:

• Do not wear makeup

• My plaid flannel outfits do not match as well as their plaid suits

• Rarely have flower in lapel

• Did not attend specialized occupational college

• Do not like balloon animals (or real animals)

• Cannot juggle

• My giant red nose is not round

• Avoid riding in VW Bugs

• Am unpopular at children's parties (and, come to think of it, also adult parties)

• Generally receive angry internet comments instead of pies in face

Although on that last point, now that the Berkshire Eagle has removed their online comments, I don't want my pro-Trump readers to feel that they have no recourse. So please feel free to bake a pie and send it to me c/o the Berkshire Eagle.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse," and his clowning is strictly figurative. His website is

John Seven is on vacation.


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