Numerous clowns have turned up on the big screen over the years, and with the release of It, there’s no sign of appearances slowing down. But the ultimate proving ground for a clown isn’t the big screen, it’s the Big Top. Here, then, are cinema’s most prominent clowns, definitively ranked by their likelihood to make it in The Greatest Show On Earth.
Cotton-candy-shaped cocoons! A balloon dog! POPCORN GUNS! These clowns (er, “Klowns”) know how to put on a show and have a blast. OK, sure, they do leave a body count in their wake — but to be fair, it is right there in their name. With some sensitivity training, they’d be the stars of the circus.
A good clown knows how to make the most of his or her collection of props, and the former Jack Napier’s arsenal is positively killer. Sharpened quills, electrocuting hand buzzers, chattering teeth, and a dozen giant balloons filled with Smylex gas are just some of his showstoppers. He even has his goons carrying around a personal soundtrack! Joker also has the burning desire to “make art until someone dies,” and that’s the kind of psychopathic commitment to entertainment the circus can respect.
3. Toy Clown (Poltergeist, 1982)
Sure, this paranormally possessed doll is a scream flailing itself around Robbie Freeling’s room, but it really should think bigger! Imagine how kids would marvel at it doing tricks all on its own, in the lobby or in the ring. Heck, the circus could even sell a few as souvenirs for the fans to take home! Fun for the whole family.
4. Kent (Clown, 2014)
Granted, the demon-possessed clown suit that Kent puts on grafts itself to his body so he can never take it off, and it compels him to murder and consume children. But where some may see an unstoppable killer, the circus sees commitment to character, and that goes a long way. No clown school required for this guy!
Every circus could use a sad clown amongst the more upbeat ones, and this down-on-his-luck bank robber would fit the bill nicely. The circus just needs to provide detailed directions for his commute, though; otherwise he’s apt to get badly lost.
Great outfit, great pratfalls, great attitude! But it might be a smart idea not to have this guy do a stilt act, lest he get another hemorrhage in his head and test the limits of the circus’ liability insurance.
Hunter “Patch” Adams certainly has the right spirit to make it in the circus. But is he a happy clown or a sad clown? Is he — shudder to think — a sappy clown? He may need a performance review before he’s allowed to continue at the Big Top. Also, just a red nose? Come on, man, put some effort into it.
Hoo boy. Unlike the last one, Shakes is definitely a sad clown. And while the circus can look the other way if a clown needs a little “pick-me-up” before performing, Shakes’ alcoholism is just too much of a liability. At least he seems to be getting help! Now, is Binky available?
The man born Johnny Lee Johns certainly has a way with words. He also harbors a love of classic comedy, such as the Marx Brothers. However, he may be a little too family oriented, and no circus wants to employ a clown who fraternizes with anyone named “Dr. Satan”.
While Violator certainly seems to love the things he does, he’s also, well, a literal demon. So, not really circus material. (Another drawback: He also suffers from a bad case of ugly, plastic-y, mid-’90s CGI.)
Like Shakes, Pooter has a drinking problem. Unlike Shakes, he doesn’t seem to care. On top of that, he seems to have a very inflated opinion of himself and his act. But the circus won’t condone that kind of attitude, and thinks it best that he get in his mouse and get outta here.
When the monstrous entity calling itself Pennywise the Dancing Clown introduces itself to young Georgie after the boy loses his paper boat, he tries to get Georgie to follow him into the sewer. After describing, in vivid detail, all the delights the circus has to offer (especially popcorn), Georgie is swayed. Upon conducting some rudimentary research, the circus has found that this speech has convinced precisely zero other people of any age to follow Pennywise anywhere. If a clown can’t perform a simple sales pitch, he’s got no business working at the circus!
Smeared makeup, an unsettling character voice, an act that seems scripted only to be revealed as just random improvised chaos, and homicidal tendencies are just a few of the qualities that keep this clown from ever getting gainful employment at any Big Top. Nice trick with the pencil, though.
Bill Bria wears greasepaint and giant shoes in New York City (but is not a clown).