Almost everyone knows someone who is terrified of clowns. This is a condition known as coulrophobia. Visions of Pennywise from It and John Wayne Gacy in makeup send these poor souls shivering to warmer waters. But where did this terror originate from? Were clowns always creepy as hell?
You might be surprised to know that there is a list of “clown commandments,” by which working clowns hope to evade negative connotations. The history of clowndom is full of other weird facts. For example, the first modern mime, Jean-Gaspard Deburau, killed a child by hitting him in the head with his cane. However, the first real creepy clown was actually an invention of Charles Dickens, who penned the memoirs of tragic clown Joseph Grimaldi. Grimaldi once said: “I am GRIM ALL DAY, but I make you laugh at night.”
Turns out that early in the 20th century clowns already had a sinister undertone to them. Witness the birth of the creepy clown!