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Evolution Of The Clown

Jun 27, 2008
Send in the clowns! Perhaps the first time that command was voiced was in China in 1818 B.C. Or maybe it was said during Egypt's Fifth Dynasty around 2500 B.C. Although the history of clowns may not have an exact date, their influence and joy have been felt for thousands of years.

Clowns were originally court jesters and served an important function in society. Besides providing comic relief, clown jesters were allowed great freedom of speech. This translated into them having a real role in the shaping of some government policies. An example of this happened in China during the building of the Great Wall. Court jester, Yu Sze used satire and a large dose of honesty to speak out against the emperor's plans that would have killed thousands of his workers.

Many ancient cultures had clowns. When Cortez conquered the Aztecs, he discovered that Montezuma had jesters similar to those found in the kingly courts in Europe. The clowns in Native American tribes had a large influence on the social and religious life of the people, and some even thought they could cure certain diseases.

The first circus clown appeared in England in 1768 when Philip Astley created the character of "Billy Buttons". This act was based around the story of a tailor, who was also an inept horseman, as he tried to ride into town to vote in the election. The comedy act featured a lot of physical jokes, as the clown humorously exaggerated the failure of the tailor to correctly ride a horse. This particular act became a classic and variations of it were performed in circuses for 100 years.

Joseph Grimaldi, a theatrical clown, is considered to be the Father of Modern Clowning. His special talent was designing elaborate special effects tricks. His performances were filled with high intensity action and comic violence. Grimaldi is best known for his comical songs, and combined with his acting ability, elevated the status of clowns everywhere.

A legend attempts to explain the origin of the Auguste clown. In Germany, in 1869, an American acrobat named Tom Belling often entertained his friends by putting on oversized and mismatched clothes. When the theater manager caught him "in the act" Belling began running - right into the circus arena. He fell over the ring curb several times in his haste to get away in his loose clothing, but the audience thought this was part of the entertainment. They shouted "auguste" which means "fool". A clown was born.

Although many historians doubt the authenticity of this tale, it's definitely true that somewhere in history, a person stepped before an audience with the deliberate intent to make them laugh. And the world became a better place because of it.
About the Author
Sebastian Marders loves writing about a variety of things and sharing the website that inspires each piece with his readers. If you are in the mood to see some funny junk, including funny videos, and funny pics then please visit.
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