Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns
Anna and I took the following staged photo during a stroll through an otherwise beautiful and Spring-like Copenhagen:
As I’m hoping the above photo will show, a clown-sighting is enough to induce in me a Norwegian-fin-de-siecle-ish kind of existential anxiety, and I will never understand how it might be possible to react differently. Who was it that first decided that a grotesque-ified version of a human (insane make-up, over-sized mouth, nose, and hair) displaying a generally destructive behaviour (falling on his own ass, or making fellow-clowns fall on theirs, extensive pie-abuse) would be funny? I don’t even want to know.
Incidentally, when Anna and I came across this disturbing billboard (which displays a particularly creepy clown, since it mixes elements of the perfectly normal – black suit, white shirt, tie – with the grotesque and clown-like, thus indicating that there is a clown hidden in all of us! *shudder*), I had just been sharing with Anna a clown-related urban legend. I am currently working on a feature for the literature radio programme that I work for, about urban legends as modern folklore, and I plan to cite this particular story in the feature, because I think it is a fine example of the brilliantly simple, yet effectful narrative structure that characterises most urban legends. And then, as a bonus, it serves to provoke in its recipient a certain caution when it comes to clowns, which is definitely a good thing. So I thought I would post the story here on the blog too:
A couple with kids were going out for a night on town, and they were trying out a new babysitter, a young girl. At some point during the evening, they called the babysitter to check if everything was going ok. Sure, said the babysitter, the children were in bed and sound asleep. The babysitter was, however, wondering, if it would be ok for her to watch cable TV in the parents’ bedroom? The living room TV didn’t have cable – the parents didn’t want their children to watch all sorts of garbage – and there was a particular programme that the babysitter wanted to see.
Of course she could watch TV in their bedroom, the parents said. The girl thanked them, but she did have one more request: Would it be ok if she pulled a blanket or a sheet or something over the clown statue that they had in their bedroom? It was kind of creeping her out, she felt like it was staring at her.
“Take the children and go to the neighbours immediately”, said the parents, “We’ll call the police. We don’t have a clown statue.”