Clowns have never frightened me. Even Pennywise, the demented clown in Stephen King’s It that started this whole thing, has never frightened me, although the book’s pretty good and the Tim Curry teleplay was reasonable enough. (If that sounds like damning with faint praise, bear in mind that ‘reasonable enough’ is about as good as it gets when it comes to most Stephen King adaptations, at least the ones based on his horror stories.) The nearest any clown ever came to frightening me was the Joker, as presented in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, which I read back in 1989 just after I’d seen the first Batman film. There was something about the eyes – empty and black one minute, wide and crazed the next – that haunted my sleep that night. (I was eleven. I think that gets me off the hook.)
This whole ‘killer clown’ thing really is mindlessly silly, but that’s what happens when you have too much free time: a simple idea gets completely out of hand. There are several kids round our way, although I’ve yet to see them: it’s all good clean fun jumping out and shouting at people until your victim happens to have a heart condition. I was told the other day that it’s because we don’t have enough youth clubs, which strikes me as the worst kind of liberal bollocks: sitting in your bedroom bored out of your skull is, as far as I’m concerned, all part of growing up. It’s how you learn to be useful. Or else you get a hobby. I used to tape video game music onto C90s. I had very few friends. But I have not a jot of sympathy for these entitled millennials. Not one. Holy smokes I’m getting old.
I’ve thought for a while about doing some sort of ‘Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ montage scored to ‘Ashes To Ashes’, which seems an obvious choice, but that’s going to take me a while, so in the meantime you can have this instead.
How do actual clowns, I wonder, feel about this sort of cultural appropriation? Has anyone asked them? Should we get a statement from Yuri Nikulin, only to be met with a wall of silence? (We could do the same with Marcel Marceau, but you probably wouldn’t have got much out of him even when he was still alive.) How do they feel about their identities, their whole tragedy-as-comedy persona, being hijacked in this way by idiotic teenagers posing with fake machetes? Is there a convention where they discuss these things? Does every panel end in a massive pie fight? And how many parking spaces do they need?