For all who are interested in clown history, methodology, and more, enjoy these quotes and links that help us to understand the weird, ridiculous, sacred world of the clown just a little bit better.
“Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh.”
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
“The clown stands on his head and sees the world the right way up.” Chaplain, Clown’s Church of the Holy Trinity.
“The function of the buffoon has always been therapeutic. It’s a therapy for power. From very ancient times, the buffoon was someone who was used to parody power and so prevent it from acquiring divine airs…There is therefore a hygienic aspect to play-acting, whether the person doing it is called a buffoon, a clown or an actor.” Albert Boadella, quoted in Iberia’s Ronda Magazine of November 2008 (pp. 42-3)
“The clown is passionately opinionated about the human condition and, via parody and burlesque, breaks the frames of proper behavior to instruct, criticize and transform.” William E. Mitchell, ed., Clowning as Critical Practice, Performance Humor in the South Pacific, Pittsburgh and London: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992, p. viii.
“According to descriptions, the Feast of the Ass, which later developed into the Feast of Fools, was a perfect rite of reversal, full of transvestitism, sexual and scatological humor, both verbal and physical. Sometimes, the fools leading those festivals were “natural”, i.e. imbeciles or dwarfs, hunchbacks or others who suffered from physical deformity. While being repulsive, they were also considered extraordinarily potent, as they had been associated with Death (himself thought of as a fool) and therefore with the spirit world and with magic. These associations remained with the fool when he became “artificial”, i.e. playing the part and in costume. The fool was also associated with animals (the ass, the fox, the cock) and therefore with a certain kind of animalistic sensuality and naïve ignorance of norms of behavior, social structure and sacred values.” Ati Citron, Medical Clowning & Performance Theory
“I am not funny… What I am is brave.” Lucille Ball to Rolling Stone, 23 June 1983
“It is the clown’s tendency to mock decorum and to excel in a behavior that is contrary to all the norms and values of the society in which he lives that endows him with special healing abilities. In the ritual context of his performance, profanity, physical caricature, inverted speech, even blasphemy and the (temporary) destruction of social taboos, are funny precisely because they demonstrate his complete knowledge of the sacred value system and his ability to juggle with it in a titillating way. With his ludicrous costume, often with makeup or a mask, the clown stands apart from the rest of the community and, while being hilarious, is also potentially dangerous and frightening, for he might expose hidden secrets, hypocrisy and pretense and lampoon anybody, especially the most respected, powerful members of the community.” Ati Citron, Medical Clowning & Performance Theory
“Clowning involves taking what you need to express and stretching it to its most extreme possibility.” Richard Pochinko (Wellsman)
“Clowns perform send-ups concerning accepted social mores: engage in intricate pantomimes of sexual practices, bringing what is considered either abnormal or private sexual behaviour into the glare of public scrutiny; engage in gluttony and the consumption of filth; mimic individuals; use inverted speech, saying the opposite of what they mean; and practice inverted behavior, doing the opposite of what they are told. In short, clowns occupy a privileged position, in the sense that others are forbidden entry into their exclusive moral arena, a placement in which boundaries of normalcy disappear and license is unleashed.” Ronald McCoy, The Delight Makers.
“The clown – embodying human contradiction and frailty while epitomizing our greatest spiritual aspirations – is each of us at our worst and all that we could become if our best came through.” Ronald McCoy, The Delight Makers