Clown v stand-up

Comedians have been the new rock and roll almost as long as there’s been rock and roll. They have a lot in common with rock stars anyway. They’re often often sexy beasts… Louche. Dangerous.  Think of Lenny Bruce. Bill Hicks. Eddie Murphy.

But I defy you to name a rock star clown. No, David Bowie doesn’t count – even though he trained as a mime, he is first and foremost … well… David Bowie.


I’ve heard it said that the difference between comedians and clowns is that a comedian tells jokes, whereas the clown is the joke. This may account for some of the stick clowns get from their audience. A comic telling a joke in a club is not at odds with the audience, they are complicit. They are like the slick and funny friend you wish you had. The clown by contrast is a screw-up, an idiot who deserves our pity, and there is a thin line between pity and contempt. No matter what universal truths this artist tries to communicate, his message is lost in the physical translation.