Rumors of a nationwide clown shortage has coulrophobics rejoicing at the very prospect. Is it because today’s youth no longer pine to entertain, or scare, children and adults alike? The often mocked but mostly loved profession has taken a hit over the past decade. Famous clowns such as Ronald McDonald, Bozo, and even the popular character of Krusty from The Simpsons may soon be out of a job for good if replacements can’t be found.
The country’s largest clown organization, Clowns of America International, claim that older clowns are dying and their membership has been decreasing steadily over the past decade. Clowns of America International won’t cite specific numbers due to the privacy of their members, but a representative from the World Clown Association claims that their membership has plummeted from over 3,500 members to less than 2,500 member over the past 10 years.
World Clown Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier says that they are having a real hard time getting younger people interested in clowning as a profession. In fact, Hartmier says that most of her members are over forty years old. Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger agrees, saying that they are finding it difficult to get the younger generation involved and interested at an early age. Kohlberger says that there are many facets of clowning that need to be learned early on for someone to stay with it as a professional. He goes on to say that young kids develop an interest early on but by the time they reach high school becoming a clown isn’t as cool as they once believed. Then the kids go on to college and clowning isn’t thought of again until they reach middle age.
Part of the reason could be that clowning as a profession isn’t very lucrative. Cyrus Zavieh, President of New York’s Clown Alley, says that birthday party clowns can usually earn up to $300 per party. Not exactly enough to live on these days. Coupled with the fact that most kids want mega parties such as laser tag, salon makeovers, and indoor gaming centers. Clowns just aren’t in demand as much as they used to be.
The possibility of a clown shortage certainly has coulrophobics excited. Fear of clowns is certainly not a new phobia. Throughout the ages many young children and adults alike have shaken in their boots at the very idea of a clown confrontation. These days, with the advent of special effects and the age of the internet, fear of clowns is at an all-time high. There are entire websites dedicated to the anti-clown movement. Stephen King took coulrophobia to new heights with his best-selling novel It. Clowns have been scaring movie-goers for years. It’s no wonder that there has been a decrease in the number of clowns over the past decade.
While a possible clown shortage may have many rejoicing there are still a large number of those who truly enjoy clowns. They aren’t all meant to be threatening. Some are even cute. Who hasn’t laughed at the idea of fitting fifteen clowns in a tiny car? Unless young people step up to take the place of retiring clowns we will continue to see them less and less.
By Mary Kay Love