Critique of pure clowning, part 2

The subject of “clown ethics” sounds like it might be part of the clown act. It’s not the seemng oxymoron that “legal ethics” is, but it’s funny. Our local Minnesota expert on the ethics of clowning — see “Critique of pure clowning” — is helping us to take the subject seriously and to understand the weakness of the case against the rodeo clown who has committed an offense against royalty:

Judy Quest wrote a column for CNN on Clown Ethics. Judy was on the board at COAI when I was there – she’s a legit professional entertainment clown, the birthday party kind. I found her column through a James Taranto’s column “Dog the wag” that was linked by Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit.

Judy writes with the passion of a person who loves her end of the business. She misses the point I was making, that the rodeo clown’s job isn’t entertainment, it’s safety.

The very first rule in the Clown Commandments specifically says their job is “clean entertainment.” So naturally, you don’t drink or smoke around kids, you don’t swear, you don’t insult or frighten them. COAI is trying to raise entertainment clowning to a profession, while fighting the stereotype of the bad clown (think Homey the Clown from “In Living Color” or the wicked clown from Steven King’s “It”).

Contrast COAI’s Commandments with those for, say, stand-up comedians. Hey, they’re both entertainers, right? Except the comedian gets to do all the bad things. Because COAI is aimed at kids and comics generally are not.

And rodeo clowns aren’t aimed at kids, either. They’re aimed at bulls. These photos show the difference:

Typical rodeo clown:

Typical children’s entertainment clown:


Summary: The Code of Ethics for people trying to make a living as Kid’s Clowns does not apply to stand-up comedians, politicians, or rodeo clowns. We need to get past the the name “clown” to look at their actual jobs, and cut the rodeo clown the same amount of slack we’d cut other professionals in dangerous jobs.

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