Send in the clowns! (Story Time and Clown Philosophy)

Allow me to set the scene: You’re a clown in a traveling circus. You’re backstage, perhaps getting ready for your next gag, getting food at the pie cart or taking a much needed nap. The show is going on in the three rings and something, you don’t know what, just went wrong! Then you hear it. The sound that makes your heart drop for a second and you’re more alert than you ever have been. It’s the dreaded music you were warned about by the other clowns when you first joined the alley. You thought it was a myth...a legend...until it finally happened. The band, at this moment, is blaring the song, “send in the clowns.” 

It’s like a bat signal to all clowns. Especially those in the circus atmosphere. It’s a signal that you know, as a clown, means something is wrong and I need to make it seem like it’s all going to be alright. It’s all for the audience. Make them feel comfortable with whatever just happened. You hear this sound and you immediately stop eating, or napping, drop everything you’re doing and you just run! Run as fast as you can, grabbing any prop you find along the way. You run with your fellow clowns to the ring. Not knowing what you’ll be exposed to. Adrenaline is rushing. Thoughts racing. Heart pumping faster than your legs are running. You finally enter through the curtains, there’s some commotion going on in a black out part of the circus arena, but you can’t focus on that. If you focus on it, so will the audience.

You see the audience is saddened. Horrified even. Some are crying, and others are just speechless. Something just happened that tore down the veil of circus magic, and brought everyone back to reality. It’s now your job, as the clown, to put their worries at ease and bring back the circus magic. You perform an impromptu gag. A skit you never thought you’d be able to perform for an audience, and now you get to do it. You can see fellow clowns in other parts of the arena doing their gags as well. Some paired together to create duo routines. After some time, you can see that the audience is no longer looking at whatever just happened, and are now focused on you. They’re now realizing what you’re doing and begin to relax. You can see their stress leave their bodies. Parents are holding their crying kids, pointing at you trying to get their attention to turn to what you’re doing. They finally look and they stop crying almost instantly. Wiping their tears away, they begin to smile.

What used to be an audience of speechless, unhappy, worried audience members, you now have relaxed, stress free, smiling patrons once again. Young and old alike are focused on you fully, as whatever just happened in the dimmed out part of the circus arena is being whisked away silently. You’ve saved the day for the show. Now it can easily go on. The ringmaster takes back the reigns. The clowns take a bow and run offstage to get ready for their upcoming routine. The show goes on. All because you heard the song and acted upon it.

Many times in our regular lives we need to play the song. Take a breather, relax, watch or listen to something funny, and just take our minds off of what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to play the song. Let it happen. Don’t keep the audience (you) unhappy and just send in the clowns to bring back the magic.

When in doubt...SEND IN THE CLOWNS!

Back to blog


I used 2 B with Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus. Not as a clown, but concessions & floor crew. But true story.
There was a clown, that practiced flame spitting. He was able to shoot the flame 1/2 way across the ring. Once he tried it in an act in costume. His grease paint & nylon wig caught fire. Sucked 4 us all. Audience didn’t know how to re act. Other than a dove pan, I’ve kept flames out of my act’s!

Wango Nutz

What a great story, well told! Laughter is very important in any show, and especially for tent shows. I love clown routines and the slapstick they create!
all the best always.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.