Clowns, generally speaking, are viewed ambivalently at best. Sure, they’re supposed to inspire fun and laughter, and in some of us, they do. Others get nothing but a paralyzing fear. Soon, though, that all might be a non-issue—that is, if the national clown shortage we’re looking at continues.
Leaders of clown-related organizations across the US are reporting sagging numbers and anemic interest rates—what Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger calls “attrition”:
“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”
As we now know, “attrition” is clown for “death.” Kohlberger wouldn’t release hard numbers for his organization, but the World Clown Association’s membership rates fell from 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.
Evidently, the problem is that with all their newfangled interests, kids today just increasingly don’t care about the noble clown. Or, as WCA President Deanna Hartmier puts it, “the challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning.” Especially considering that most members are over 40, and therefore not concerned with being “hip” or “cool”:
“’What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,’ [Kohlberger] said. ‘Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and 50s.’”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how sad clowns are made. All they ever wanted was to be cool—the facepaint, giant shoes and goofy antics are proof of that. But, to be fair, that may be a moot point in a few years if this trend continues.
Because, after all, what makes a clown sad becomes irrelevant when clowns stop being anything at all. And that, perhaps, is the biggest tragedy of all.