Bringing up the rear

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The last group in the clown cavalcade is the Tramp or Hobo style character. This was the last clown style to be created and the only American born clown character. The tramp clown came about after the Great Depression, modeling after those of high society lost everything in the stock market crash and became destitute. How does such a tragedy fit into clowning you ask? Remember, the idea of a clown at its origins was often meant to mock those of authority and power or to make light of a current state of affairs. Many people suffered greatly during the depression era and the tramp character being so down on his luck could make people feel that they had it just a little better than this poor fellow. One could also see hope as the Tramp often would take a devil may care attitude on life and roll with the punches, this idea is how the Tramp fit so well into the clown hierarchy, The White Face and Auguste may pick on the Tramp delivering humorous gags to the audience, but in the end the Tramp still plugs along giving hope to those watching the skit. The Tramp can sometimes be the victor over the other two clown characters by simply foiling their skit through a comedy of errors. One might consider the Tramp/Hobo to be the most complex of the 3 styles as they are more like a real person and often will have an actual back-story to the character. The hobo character also has roots to the folks who traveled by the train boxcar from town to town picking up odd jobs to survive.

Tramp or Hobo?

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Although considered one clown class, the Tramp and Hobo do have a bit of a difference when you look closely. The Tramp is definitely more “woe is me” sometimes blaming other people for their misfortune and can look far more shabby in appearance. The Hobo is more “happy go lucky” making lemonade from lemons and will have old clothes but often mended with colorful patches. Above Rustopher is in a bit of a jam but knows he will come out on top. This happy hobo never misses a chance to ham it up for the camera!


Tippy and Rustopher looked perplexed over a stray sock found in their magic hat. Perhaps that is where the other match always end up!

The Look:

The shabby worn clothes and shoes are the result of having no reasonable means of cash flow. Again the tramp character has fallen on misfortune, sometimes there own unwillingness to work, and has no other clothing. The makeup style, to an extent, got the look from folks who road the rails from town to town and the soot covered their faces, when they wiped their eyes and mouth it looked sort of like big white clown eyes and mouth. For men the beard and scruffy hair showed the rarity in which they could get a shave or haircut.

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Emmett Kelly Sr. and his character Weary Willie set the bar for so many years as the perfect example for the Tramp clown and Jim Howle is recognized in the clown world as a great teacher as well as clown. Jim also has his own line of clown makeup.


The Lady is a tramp:


One could even consider the character created by Carol Burnett, a shabbily dressed cleaning lady to be a tramp clown. Remember, a clown is not always defined by the grease paint makeup but of the overall look and performance given. Many women who wish to do a tramp clown will dress as the male version of this character, not that there is any thing wrong with this. However, I think Ms. Burnett sets a great example for women who wish to be a tramp to do a female version like an old bag lady for example. Magician Tina Lennert has an ward winning act in which she starts out as a frumpy cleaning lady and transforms in to a glamorous lady on the town.


Let’s here it for our entire clown family the Whiteface, Auguste and Tramp. These folks work super hard at their craft to bring smiles and laughter to children of all ages around the world.

I think by now everyone knows what’s next…that’s right, a Tramp makeup contest. Keep your eyes peeled for the emails and posts on our website to find out the next big makeup contest.

Happy trails!


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