When I was in grade school, one of our playground ladies was a clown. No, not just a goofball who joked with us while we played tetherball, a real clown, with a clown name (I think it was "Spots") and a true dedication to her profession. We looked up to her, and because of that respect, we also listened when she told us to quit throwing snowballs at the kindergartners.
Clowns may look funny, but they're serious business. And they're not too thrilled by the bad rap they get in pop culture.
Murderer John Wayne Gacy didn't help things -- when he wasn't killing, he sometimes performed for charity as Pogo the Clown. Stephen King's creepy Pennywise the Clown in "It" helped further ruin the clown's reputation, and The Simpsons' bitter and cynical Krusty the Clown wasn't any good for clowndom either. Neither is Rob Zombie's killer clown movie, "31," which U.S. viewers can watch on demand starting Friday. And even Batman's famed foe The Joker is made extra-insanely-disturbing due to his clown makeup.
But those clowns are disobeying the commandments. Not the 10 Commandments of biblical fame, but the 8 Clown Commandments, as listed by Clowns of America International, and cited in a recent CNN article.
Sure, it's easy to imagine what the elite eight might be. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's giant shoes. Thou shalt have no red plastic nose before me.
But leave the clowning to the professionals -- the real rules are more straightforward. "I will remember at all times that I have been accepted as a member of the clown club only to provide others, principally children, with clean clown comedy entertainment," reads part of one of the commandments.
And the following bylaws are both simple and refreshingly clean-cut, almost enough to restore your faith in the funny-faced of the world. Performances should be kept in good taste, makeup applied professionally, no drinking or smoking while in costume, no discrimination or harassment. If all clowns -- no, wait, if all people -- followed the Clown Commandments, we'd live in a safer, kinder world.
Also, we're pretty sure Krusty violated all of those about once an episode.