Scary clowns ruining our profession


    How to follow the Clown Commandments


How to follow the Clown Commandments 00:58

Story highlights

  • Judy Quest: Scary clowns that have been frightening people around country are not REAL clowns. They bring fear, not fun
  • She says impostors have hurt clown profession and its skilled entertainers whose job aims only to lift up people

Judy Quest is a board member and past president of Clowns of America International, an organization of clowns that promotes the craft. She has been a clown for 35 years and has trained hundreds of clowns. She writes regularly for clown journals. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)To begin the discussion of the so-called "scary clowns" that have been frightening and threatening people across the country: It should be stated that these people are NOT clowns, they are impostors. They wear masks rather than makeup, and they bring fear, not fun!

A REAL clown is a person who is part of a long, long tradition. We go to school to learn our makeup, costume and craft. Our only goal is to bring joy and laughter to the world.
    Judy Quest
    It takes most clowns over an hour to get ready to dress to perform -- and the makeup, costumes and especially the shoes are very expensive. We are continually learning the craft: REAL clowns can make balloons, paint fun faces, do silly magic, perform in skits and in parades.
    The appalling news about impostors has affected the clown world in many ways.
    Many clowns make their living doing parties, corporate events and working in many other venues. Jobs have been canceled because of the public fear engendered by the impostors. This is taking people's livings away. Even Ronald McDonald is scaling back. I personally was asked not to come to a citywide charity run last Sunday that I had been doing for 20 years.
    Right now, most of us are afraid to be seen in public in our legitimate, carefully designed clown characters. In some communities, we have been asked not to drive in clown costume.
    Scary (fake) clowns turn an upbeat, uplifting profession upside down -- away from the sunlight and into the darkness: Most REAL clowns give a good portion of their time clowning in hospitals, senior citizen facilities, programs for people with disabilities and schools.
    A group of clowns entertain children at a camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border.
    Red Nose Response goes into areas where there has been a disaster and helps the Red Cross distribute needed goods. Clowns work in children's hospitals alongside child-life professionals helping to make the hospital a more friendly environment.
    We LOVE people. People of all varieties. We train to bring joy and laughter to the world. We work hard and we love what we do. We wonder why people have taken our profession to make people afraid. We are profoundly sad and we wonder how long this will go on and what the long-term effects will be.
    If you love clowns and would like to help us, here are some suggestions:
    -- We ask law enforcement to arrest the impostors and treat them as they would others who terrorize our communities.
    -- We ask parents to explain the difference between the impostors and real clowns to their children.
    -- We ask schools to invite real clowns to come and get into costume in front of the children so that all can see a lovely, fun person emerge who is hoping to make people happy.
    -- We ask costume shops to quit selling scary clown masks, and haunted houses to quit having these impostors in their attractions.
    The world right now has so much sadness. The impostors are taking away the joy clowns can bring without thinking of the real consequences of their actions. Please stop.