By Kevin Yee
Published on January 01, 2013
A bit more than a week ago, clowns invaded Storybook Circus at the Magic Kingdom. My wife hates clowns with a passion. I’ve always been cautiously indifferent about them. There’s something creepy about them on a conceptual level, but in practice they fall somewhere in the triangular zone between boring, droll, and pointless, moving variously throughout that metaphorical region.
The Magic Kingdom clown acts (there are two) manage to strike different reactions in me. The one-man show Wowzer, essentially a juggling act, managed to be mildly entertaining. This clown impressed with his skills rather than relied on “humor” (or the clown variant thereof) to try to distract. The Giggle Gang, though, was deplorable. My wife ran away shortly after the act started (coulrophobia had kicked in for THESE clowns). They did rely on the standard brand of clown humor, which is to say a certain kind of tongue in cheek attitude, with fake scenarios embraced as though real, and interactions are forced despite the brazen unnatural reality of it, all to achieve a punchline through pun or wit. They prowled the audience not once but twice to lasso an unwitting victim to come center stage and become part of the “fun”, which is probably what sent my wife packing. Not a great show to watch as an introvert; you’ll experience panic.
I don’t blame the actors. Even the script isn’t really the problem. I just don’t like the concept.
Not everyone hates the Giggle Gang. I have friends who found it funny and fun, and even appropriate for the Magic Kingdom. On the last point I don’t think I can be entirely convinced. The clowns, in fact, made me re-think my heretofore positive reaction to having a circus inside the Magic Kingdom. Previously I was OK with it since the art direction was so high, and the place did not exude your typical carny vibe of a circus. It was more like a classy period piece of the 1930s that happened to include elements of a circus. But with the inclusion of clowns, the area is being downgraded just to a regular circus again, and that’s a shame.