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Monday, November 1, 2010

Funny or Scary? The Two Faces of Clowns
Clowns Are to Make Us Laugh, but as Mo Rocca Finds out, These Painted Faces Can Strike Fear in the Heart

Vance "Pinto" Colvig, the first person to portray Bozo the Clown. (AP/International Clown Hall of Fame)
(CBS) The circus clown is a familiar figure for all of us. We're supposed to laugh, but for more than a few, a clown is more scary than funny. Our Mo Rocca has given the subject some serious study:
All the world loves a clown, right? They smile, they play tricks, they just wanna make ya laugh!
Then why do so many of us find them so scary?
To Amy Bracco, they're "Terrifying."
Michael Miller was chased by a clown. How did he escape? "We just ran, you know?" (Well, he was wearing clown shoes. You can't run that fast in clown shoes.)
Turns out much of the world loathes a clown …
The evil clown has long lurked outside the big top in the scary-funny, the scary-bad, and the just plain scary.
Writer Mark Dery believes that coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, is a reaction to the clown's mask, the eerie whiteface.
"He's selling you a perception of himself that is so strident and so resoundingly false, it all but begs you to believe there's something awful behind the carnival music," he said.
"The clown is a very cadaverous figure," said Dery. "He has deathly pallor, he has the rictus, the frozen grin of the corpse, which is why the Joker in 'Batman' is such an uncanny figure."
Is the clown even smiling, Dery wonders … or baring his teeth?


from: CBS NEWS, SUNDAY MORNING show.

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