Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 13, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment Tears of a Clown: The experience of being a student clown

Tears of a Clown: The experience of being a student clown

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As my girlfriend always said, it doesn’t matter if you’re ugly, as long as you have a sense of humour. For my young, pimpled self, it was the key to my heart; a self-validating rush I hadn’t felt since that final cathartic Twilight film. I may have struggled with body odour, drowned in love handles and felt more erotic in a game of Twister than in sexual contact… yet all of those problems fell to dust in my mind, as long – she said – as long as I could make people laugh.

Sadly, I couldn’t do that either, which was possibly why she left me for my brother. He had his own comedy show in Brixton – while if I made a pun about fish, it was a pretty good night.

Everyone says that’s why I became a clown. Where others would turn to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, to psychotic phone calls at 4am and flaming parcels of poo, I did that and more. Jesting was when I felt alive.

Jesting was when I felt alive

An average gig offered about ten fans. Average age: five. You see the extremes of human life as a clown: the wailing, whining, screaming animal of the strife-ridden human, or a giggling little specimen that throws Party Rings on your shoes and is, in itself, a powerful advert for contraception.

It was an easy life as a clown. It had its pitfalls of course, the worst being the additional birthday cake weight, or the drunken footballers who steal your wig at TP Wednesday. Still, it wasn’t quite the SAS.

Or so I once thought. The clowning profession has experienced many rogues in its time; The Joker, Stephen King’s It, Ronald McDonald… Yet none more sinister than the killer clown.


It’s fine for some of us made redundant; many went to join their fellow clowns in the BHS management. Yet jesting, for me, is my life. Gone are the party invites, the solo performances, the circus gigs; rotting is my red nose, my wig. In desperation, I’ve taken to haunting the local school in the hope that some four-year-old will take pity. Sadly the restraining order stopped that, along with the subsequent 219 from nearly every primary school in Devon.

The desperation has been tangible, trawling through job application after application; Great British Bake Off, the Labour leadership… Hell, even Lord Sugar’s apprentice… Yet, the discrimination is even greater. No one wants a clown. Not even Alan.

No one wants a clown

For days it was like a break-up, like Brangelina or Brexit in painful repetition: the tears, the agony, the ice-cream… Still, I feel the stabbing remembrance of Waitrose, of circus stardom, of frolicking freely like my balloon animals, rather than surviving off of Sainsbury’s basics and mouldy Domino’s deals I robbed from The Ram.

So – along with all other students – I string up my job prospects, my finances, all hopes of long-term stability… Yet never the make-up; never the nose; never the lust for vengeance that burns cruelly in my breast…

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