Hey everybody! Get ready for an afternoon of magic and fun. I have a whole bag of balloon animals and tricks, and after that I want you to meet my puppet family from the Magical Land of Glee. It's just going to be sooooper-dooper! I just... wait. What? What's that look for? Tell me. C'mon, tell me.
Okay, let me explain something. I'm not a scary clown. I'm not a psycho clown. I won't grow fangs or claws or spurt blood over anything. Got it? I'm just. A happy. Clown. I took four years of dance and two years of physical comedy at Juilliard so I could make people laugh and enjoy themselves and forget about what a crap world we live in for a little while. Is that dishonorable? Is that something you should mock? No. No, it isn't. But every time I show up with my bag and and my big shoes I get jokes about Pennywise and John Wayne Gacy. Just last week I finished a solid hour of close magic and intense pratfalls. I won over two dozen kids and made them just bust up with laughter -- even the little guy who was actually afraid of me when I showed up. I really reached them. Then they filed out of the room, and one of the suburban dads got that stupid smirk on his face I know so well.
"So," he said. "Where the dead hookers at?" All the adults laughed in those harsh adult laughs, because they think everything's funny and nothing is good. Almost popped him right in the face. He's going to spend the next ten years poisoning that boy of his, and the kid'll give up acting or writing or whatever it is, and he'll become some goddamn plumbing supply executive. And I know this, because that's what my dad tried to do. It's hard being a clown. You people get that? You spend your life struggling with bills and bad gigs and getting made fun of. And you do it, because you still remember the time you put on a play when you were five, and everybody clapped, and you just knew you wanted to spend your life bringing that kind of joy into every room you could. And then some asshat asks you if you've seen Batman.
My ex-girlfriend told me I should quit clowning. She was into stand-up and improv -- she was dealing with her own issues -- and she just cut me down mercilessly. It's why we broke up. "You'll never make it," was really, literally the last thing she ever said to me. You know what her name was? Amy Poehler. Yes, that one. Now I see her on TV or on magazines, or sitting at an awards show with whatserface, and it cuts my insides into ribbons.
I'm 41, and I don't have any other skills. I've tried secretarial work. I became a blogger for awhile, but that's even more depressing. I am at a point in my life, where I can do only a few things very well, and no one takes any of those things seriously. My other clown friends have all left to take bit parts in horror films, or work in amusement park haunted houses. One of them got a part in a reenactment on one of those Discovery crime shows. I am the only one left, the only one who still wants to be a real clown. I am trapped by the very thing that I always loved. Do you know what that's like?
I guess you could say I'm bitter. You won, you horrible, cynical people. You turned me into another one of them. I'm an angry clown.
I hope you fuckers are proud of yourselves.
(Note: Above is a photo of Smilie the Clown by Steve Smilie Norman. The information is here. It is a public domain picture, and Smilie has nothing to do with my essay. I'm sure he's a very nice clown, and you shouldn't judge him. Also I've never had a relationship with Amy Poehler. I don't know if she's nice, but I'm sure people who meet her on the street say she's "really down to earth.")