Trav SD Speaks: When Did the Circus Become Un-American?
My friend Trav SD, who writes the wonderful blog Travalanche, recently published the speech he gave at the Coney Island Congress of Curious Peoples. Â He was the keynote speaker, The topic is When Did the Circus Become Un-American. (or more accurately, when did the American Circus Become Un-American) Dick Zigun (founder of Coney Island Circus Sideshow) had suggested the topic to him.
Trav goes on a wild and historic ride through circuses past and present, and presents the startling thesis that the American Circus became Un-American a long long time ago. (but in this galaxy, not some other galaxy. Â It’s not Star Wars over here!)
I encourage you to read the post, available here on Trav’s blog Travalanche:
Here is a small excerpt to whet your appetite.
(I’m selecting an excerpt about clowns, because Clownlink.)
For the past few years thereâ€™s been this apparent mass psychosis/ fad involving terror of clowns. When you say this, the clown-phobes are always like, â€œNo, Iâ€™ve always been afraid of clowns.â€ Well, that may be so, but there is a distinct difference between a FIVE year old being irrationally terrified of a childrenâ€™s birthday clown, and a THIRTY FIVE YEAR OLD needing to be held.
That said, I find the indignation of clowns equally amusing. They always take this tone of, â€œWhat do you mean being afraid of clowns, who only bring joy and wonder to the world?â€ That, too, is a disingenuous self-denial. Anyone who has studied the history of clown, knows that it goes back to the earliest origins of mankind, and itâ€™s always been intrinsically a little scary. That too is part of its function. You donâ€™t put on that grotesque make-up because you want to make people super-comfortable at their familiar surroundings. Youâ€™re throwing things off base a little, knocking the globe off its axis. Otherwise there would be no outlandish get-up. You would just be an actor or a stand up comedian! The clown has always been a mix of funny and scary: always. Al Lewis in the Ric Burns Coney Island documentary talks about loving the scary leering face of the Steeplechase Clown over the gates as you walked in. Â Itâ€™s fun, but itâ€™s also unexpected, otherworldy, abnormal. DESIRABLY so. Otherwise stay home, under the covers.