"ON THE LAST DAY OF THE CARNIVAL", Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday,) promiscuous masking is allowed on the streets, which are thronged with picturesque bands of maskers of every age and condition, and their costumes run in every garment from the clown to kings and queens."
The view shows a group of maskers in the street, most in costumes of clowns with polka-dots and pointed hats. A sign on the neutral ground reads "Welcome to the Winter Capital of America". Early 20th century postcard



  • Amelia Butler - (ca, 1840 - ????). A female clown best known for being the first female American circus clown that we have records of.




  • Abbott & Costello (William (Bud) Abbott, 1897–1974); Louis Costello, 1906–1959) American comedy duo whose mastery of the white clown (straight man) /red clown (comic) relationship made them one of the most popular and respected teams in American comedy history
  • Ben Turpin (September 19, 1869 – July 1, 1940) cross-eyed comedian, best remembered for his work in silent films
  • Buster Keaton – (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) The Great Stoneface. His innovative work as both a comedian and a director made great contributions to the development of the art of cinema
  • Charlie Chaplin – (April 16, 1889 – December 25, 1977) British born comedian. The most famous actor in early to mid Hollywood cinema era, he acted in, directed, scripted, produced, and eventually scored his own films. His principal character was "The Little Tramp"
  • Chester Conklin (January 11, 1886 – October 11, 1971) American comedian and actor
  • Harry Langdon – (June 15, 1884 – December 22, 1944) was an American silent film comedian and a first class mime
  • Jacques Tati – (October 9, 1908 – November 5, 1982) was a French comedian, mime and filmmaker best known as the socially inept Monsieur Hulot
  • Keystone Cops incompetent group of policemen created by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company between 1912 and 1917
  • Laurel & Hardy – perhaps the most famous comedy duo in film history
  • Martin & Lewis – an American comedy duo, comprising singer Dean Martin (as the "straight man") and comedian Jerry Lewis (as his stooge)
  • The Marx Brothers – a team of sibling comedians that appeared in vaudeville, stage plays, film and television
  • Peter Sellers – (September 8, 1925 – July 24, 1980) Extremely versatile and talented English comedian and actor best remembered for the character of Inspector Clouseu
  • Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (March 24, 1887 – June 29, 1933) One of the most popular actors of his era, but is best known today for his central role in the so-called "Fatty Arbuckle scandal"
  • Joseph UtslerShaggy 2 Dope; DJ of the Insane Clown Posse, a Detroit-based hip-hop group with a fan army of "schizophrenic wizards" called the juggalos and star of underground film Big Money Hustlaz
  • Slim Pickens, rodeo clown and film actor
  • Snub Pollard (November 9, 1889, Melbourne, Australia, – January 19, 1962) was a silent film comedian, popular in the 1920s.
  • The Three Stooges – starred in many short features that consisted of masterful ways of showcasing their extremely physical brand of slapstick comedy
  • W.C. Fields – (January 29, 1880 – December 25, 1946) was an American comedian and actor. Fields created one of the great American comic personas of the first half of the 20th century
  • Joseph BruceViolent J; The leader of the Insane Clown Posse, a Detroit-based hip-hop group and star of Big Money Hustlaz underground film


  • Charlie Chalk from the British children's TV series of the same name
  • Flunkie the Clown (also spelled Flunky), a character on Late Night with David Letterman, a bitter, chain-smoking, depressed, very unenthusiastic clown who helped Dave answer viewer mail about circuses and clowns, played by show writer Jeff Martin. The name originated with his first appearance, in which a viewer suggested that mail to Letterman was actually read by a "flunkie" (sic). The clown's catchphrase was <in a very unemotional voice> "yeah, it's a real panic."
  • Lucille Ball – I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy
  • Jim AllenRusty Nails (1957–1972), Pacific Northwest children's television clown, and model (in part) for Matt Groening's "Krusty" character on the television program "The Simpsons"
  • Sid Caesar – Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour
  • Willie WhistleWSBK-TV38, a clown who had a kids' show in the 1960s-70's. He got his name because he "spoke" with a squeeky whistle



  • A. Robins – Vaudeville's "The Banana Man" and "One Man Music Shop"
  • Andy Kaufman American comic and one of the most famous practitioners of anti-humor
  • Clark & McCullough – Bobby Clark & Paul McCullough started as circus clowns and progressed to be stars of stage and screen
  • Ed Wynn – The Perfect Fool
  • George Carl – Longtime star of the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris
  • George Washington Lafayette Fox, perhaps the most famous American stage clown during the 19th century and one of the first known performers to become typecast in a role
  • Joseph Grimaldi credited with being "the first whiteface clown" — in an homage to Grimaldi, circus clowns began referring to themselves and each other as "Joey"s, and the term 'joey' is now a synonym for clown
  • Olsen & Johnson – Stars of Broadway's Hellzapoppin'
  • Richard Tarlton – actor and clown in the Elizabethan theatre in England
  • Robert Armin – actor and clown in Shakespeare's company
  • Spike Jones and his City Slickers – Murdered the classics with their "Musical Depreciation Revue"; versatile American musical act featuring slapstick circus-style comedy
  • Tommy Cooper – British comedy magician
  • W. C. Fields – Vaudeville comedy star who mastered the variety as well as the legitimate stage, silent and talking films, print and radio
  • Will Kempe (fl. c 1589–1600) – actor dancer and clown who worked with Shakespeare; famously jigged his way from Norwich to London in 1600
  • Willie, West & McGinty – Fast-paced Irish-American vaudeville knockabout act about 3 laborers building a house



See also

Further reading

  • Poor Clown by Charlie Rivel
  • Behind My Greasepaint by Coco
  • Bert Williams – A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian by Eric Ledell Smith
  • The Book Of Clown by George Speaight
  • Bring On The Clowns by Beryl Hugil
  • Clown, My Life In Tatters and Smiles by Emmett Kelly and F. Beverly Kelly
  • The Clown In Times (Volumes 1–6) by Bruce Johnson
  • Clowns by Douglas Newton
  • Clowns by John Towsen
  • Clowns Of The Hope – Tradition Keepers and Delight Makers by Barton Wright
  • Felix Adler by Anne Aull Bowber
  • The Fool and His Scepter by William Willeford
  • Fools and Jesters At The English Court by John Southworth
  • Greasepaint Matadors – The Unsung Heroes of Rodeo by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor
  • Grimaldi – King of Clowns by Richard Findlater
  • Grock – King of Clowns by Grock
  • Here Come The Clowns by Lowell Swortzell
  • Jest In Time: A Clown Chronology by Bruce Johnson
  • Life's A Lark by Grock
  • A Ring, A Horse And A Clown by John H. McConnell
  • Russian Clown by Oleg Popov
  • The Tramp Tradition by Bruce Johnson
  • Hammond, J.
  • Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma (book review)
  • Handelman, D., Models and Mirrors: Towards an Anthropology of Public Events
  • Little, K., Clown Performance in the European One-Ring Circus. Culture, 1981. 2(1):61–72.
  • Rudlin, J., Commedia Dell'Arte; An Actors Handbook
  • Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User Guide by Alan Clay, Artmedia, ISBN 0-9578844-1-9

Famous Clowns

  • Lowell Swortzell, Here Come the Clowns: A Cavalcade of Comedy from Antiquity To the Present, Publisher: Viking Press, 1978 ISBN 0-670-36874-1
  • Frank Foster and Willan G. Bosworth, Clowning Through Publisher: Heath Cranston LTD London, 1937

Contemporary clowns

  • Circus Report magazine, Graphics 2000. ASIN B00006K8X5
  • Spectacle magazine. Circus Plus Publications. ASIN B00006KXUX

Film clowns

  • Larry Langman, The Encyclopedia of Film Comedy. Publisher: Taylor & Francis, November 1987 ISBN 0-8240-8496-9
  • Walter Kerr, The Silent Clowns. Publisher: Knopf – 1975 ISBN 0-394-46907-0
  • Alan S. Dale, Comedy Is a Man in Trouble: Slapstick in American Movies. Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 2000 ISBN 0-8166-3657-5

Television clowns

  • Karin Adir, Great Clowns of American Television, Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers – December 2001 ISBN 0-7864-1303-4


  • Stanley Green, The Great Clowns of Broadway. Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA September 1, 1984 ISBN 0-19-503471-6