The origin of the circus clowns dates back to XVIII century, in England where appeared the first modern circus with clowns and acrobats. In fact. since the modern circus exist clowns always have been part of the circus, and no one imagines a circus without clowns. And they are the main attractions from the modern circus.
The origin of the circus clowns: First Appearance
The appearance of clowns has always been part of the circus. They really entertain people, more than animals acts or acrobats. But they not only appeared in the circus. We were able to see their shows also in plays and operas, pantomimes and vaudevilles, and later in televisions and films.
But what is the origin of the circus clowns? The circus clowns appeared at the first time in modern circus, created for Philip Astley in 1768. Clown shows were prepared to amuse the spectators between equestrian sequences. Only in XIX century the role of circus clowns have developed and nowadays it is indispensable.
The origin of the circus clowns: Types of clowns
In the origin of the circus clowns, there were three types of clowns in the circus.
The whiteface clown also known by white clown occupy the highest place in the clowns hierarchy. Usually, this clown is the straight man, the leader of the clowns’ group. They paint their faces and necks with white colour and then they usually paint features on red or black colours. Usually, we can see these clowns dressing ruffled collars and pointed hats.
The auguste also known as a red clown is a classic from European circuses of the past. They are not instigators of comic instead they are recipients of the comic doings. That’s why they usually accompany white clowns. We can see these red clowns getting pies in their faces, squirted with water and thing like that. Their make-up is red and the mouth and eyes are painted in white. They paint features in red and black colours like whitefaces. They dress wide-collared shirts, long neck ties, coloured wigs and big shoes. They also dress red noses and their costumes are colourful.
In the origin of the circus clowns we can find also, the character clown usually adopt eccentric characters of some social types like a policeman, a housewife, and things like that. They have comic make-up which is flesh tone base and they dress something like glasses, moustaches, beards, and more. When the three types are acting together the character clown will play “contre-auguste”. However, character clowns are a little more smart and less dim than augustes.
Nowadays there are more types of clown: the tramp or hobo clown and the mimo-clown. The tramp is like a solitary auguste. This clown usually is a mark of social marginality. Good examples are Charlie Chaplin, Joe Jackson, Otto Griebling and Emmet Kelly. The mimo-clown is kind and mute. Usually is lonely and he has great physic or musical abilities. Dimitri, Pic and Pierino are exponents of this speciality.
The origin of the circus clowns: the most famous clowns
In the origin of the circus clowns we can remember some excellent whitefaces like François Fratellini and Felix Adler. Also Canio (protagonist of Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci, which means “clown”) is seen as whiteface clown.
Albert Fratellini, Lou Jacobs, Greg and Karen SeSanto, Coco the Clown and Charlie Rivel are great auguste clowns. And Larry Fine of the Three Stooges and Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers are good examples of contre-auguste clowns. We can name Barry Lubin, Bill Irwin, Davis Shiner, Geoff Hoyle, Charlie Cairoli, Brittany Murrell, Oleg Popov and Bello Nock too (fantastic characters clowns).
To understand clown shows we need to search for the origin of circus clowns. It is crucial to drink all their essence and beauty. Have great clown shows!