There are thousands of internet sites and blogs devoted to the supposed evil that clowns do. And yet clown is the wellspring for almost all the comedy you’ll see on film, TV, and YouTube. So why so much (slap) stick for the originators of physical comedy?
Maybe it’s because clowns exist outside of the safety of the television box or movie or computer screen. We cannot banish these living, breathing cartoon characters with our remote control, and they may even want to involve us in their anarchy. Clowns are the embodiment of chaos and unreason, and most people who prefer order in their daily lives shrink from this.
In ‘One of Our Clowns is Missing’ I’ve mined the comedy that comes from this backdrop of hostility and indifference. I have created hapless, awkward characters reminiscent of David Brent of the sitcom ‘The Office’, or the buffoons of Spinal Tap - the band in the film by Christopher Guest. These are characters whose own inflated egos and hubris cloud their judgement and limit their self-awareness. They play at being clowns, all the while unconscious of the fact that only in their ineptness are they ever genuinely amusing.
And yet, amid the failure, the vanity and awkwardness, in these clown characters we can’t help but recognise parts of ourselves. The faces we show the world, our masks - and our real faces showing faintly through the makeup. This is who the clown is, and we love him ultimately, even against our will because he is not on the outside, mocking us – he is us.