It’s never been tougher to be a clown in America.
Not the posts-way-too-much-on-Facebook clown, or the “Hey I got this, whoops, forgot my wallet” clown.
I’m talking about the floppy-shoed, face-painted, rubber-nosed professionals that come 20 to a carload.
The latest blow to those in comically baggy pants is “It,” featuring Pennywise, a sewer-dwelling, child-hating clown that clearly would never be caught dead riding a tiny bicycle.
He joins the murdering clowns that recently debuted in the latest season of “American Horror Story.” And with Halloween fast approaching, expect to see more creepy clowns populate Instagram and Snapchat feeds. Last year, a handful of men across the country were arrested while dressed as creepy clowns.
But the real crime has been perpetrated against those whose deadliest weapons include seltzer bottles, squirting flowers and confetti.
It’s fashionable to suffer from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. But any profession can appear in a bad light when the person is wearing a demonic smile and holding large, sharp-edged instruments while standing under a lonely streetlight. Even Mister Rogers would look creepy.
My childhood clown was Bozo, the fun-loving prankster who spent an inordinate amount of time around kids. He seemingly was everywhere, from his TV show to shopping centers and parks. It was easy to believe that when you saw children gathered somewhere, Bozo wasn’t far away.
I also had a talking Bozo doll that I propped in a chair in my bedroom. Pull the string and he said such things as, “Yeah, wee kazooie,” “Whoa Nelly” and “Shiver me kazooks.”
I do have a faint memory of waking up in the middle of the night to find Bozo sharing my pillow, whispering, “That was mean what your parents did, make them pay.” Only I didn’t pull his string.
Still, clowns only want to make us happy. Why else would they wear painted smiles?