Clowns “just aren’t cool anymore.”
Soon, and perhaps not soon enough for some, big floppy shoes and honking red noses may be a thing of the past.
“What’s happening is attrition,” said Glen Kohlberger, President of Clowns of America International. “The older clowns are passing away.”
According to Philly.com, the World Clown Association’s membership rates fell from 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004. WCA President Deanna Hartmier attributes this to kids these days just not being interested in the craft.
“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he said. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and 50s.”
In other words, kids aren’t running off to join the circus like they did in the good ‘ol days.
Cyrus Zavieh, the president of New York Clown Alley, a group of 45 members, said that clowns can pull in up to $300 for a birthday party – but that’s hardly a financial incentive for many young people.
“American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether,” said 44-year old Zavieh, who has worked as “Cido” for almost two decades. “They’re thinking about everything other than clowning.
Jeff Seal, filmmaker, is still hopeful about the future of clowns.
“There are still a lot of younger people becoming clowns, they’re just not joining the Clowns of America International,” he told The Gothamist. “It’s more of a generational thing I think. It’s like joining the Shiners club or something like that. Also, maybe it has to do with the weakening of American labor unions in general (just kidding not kidding). Plus, there’s a lot of clowns coming out of China who will work for really cheap.”
But, according to the New York Daily News, even the “Greatest Show on Earth” has implemented a more rigorous hiring process to find the right clowns. Only 12 will be featured in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s new show.
“Our audience expects to be wowed,” said David Kiser, Ringling Bros. director of talent. “No longer is it good enough to just drop your pants and focus on boxer shorts.”
But until the day comes when the face paint is washed off and the bucket of confetti is boxed away, keep sending in the clowns. What is left of them, that is.
Image via Thinkstock