Also known as: It.
Appearance: You know, the scary clown guy.
When did it become cool to say you were scared of clowns? And when will it stop? Well, the 19th-century opera Pagliacci tells the story of a clown who commits murder.
Of course. And the serial killer John Wayne Gacy used to perform as a clown at children’s parties in the 1970s.
Right. But the modern phenomenon took off after the publication of Stephen King’s horror novel It in 1986, and especially after the TV movie that resulted from it in 1990. Now there’s a remake, with Bill Skarsgård replacing Tim Curry as Pennywise, out in cinemas this week.
And he’s a murderous clown, is he? Well, kind of. He’s really an alien monster who takes the form of a murderous clown in order to scare people before eating them. Fear is a flavour-enhancer, apparently.
I see. Although wouldn’t you be pretty scared if anyone was about to eat you? Is dressing up as a clown strictly necessary? That’s a fair point. And, in the opinion of the World Clown Association, Pennywise does go too far.
The World Clown Association? What a terrifying thought! Hush now. “It all started with the original It,” WCA president Pam Moody told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a science-fiction character. It’s not a clown and has nothing to do with pro clowning.”
Interesting. So are some motel owners not psychopaths either? That’s right. Like Norman Bates, Pennywise is what writers and film-makers call “a fictional character”. The WCA has also issued a statement to explain.
Read me the best sentence. “Just as a Haunted House event may have a ‘doctor’ wearing surgical gear, carrying a bloody chainsaw, people need to understand that this character is NOT a real doctor.”
Thanks. Life-saving advice from the clowns there. They are supposed to be funny, I suppose. Yes, but they want to be taken seriously this time. Moody says the scary clown craze, which led to a rash of “sightings” last year, has hit their business. “People had school shows and library shows that were cancelled,” she says.
Oh no, the clowns are angry! They’ll eat our brains! That’s zombies, idiot.
Do say: “Fewer than 8% of aristocrats are practising vampires.”
Don’t say: “The World Murderers Association has issued a statement distancing themselves from clowns.”