Why Clowns Freak Us Out So Bad

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If you find clowns more sinister than hilarious, you’re in good company. Clowning has long been associated with a frisson of tragedy or fear, since way before It or John Wayne Gacy.

Smithsonian has an intriguing history of the art of clowning in all its guises, and the reasons why it has both captivated and creeped out audiences for hundreds of years.

A slideshow of clown images is included, but you may want to click with caution, ’cause…shudder.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →