“Business” is the individual motions the clown uses, often used to express the clown’s character. A “gag” is a very short piece of clown comedy which when repeated within a bit or routine may become a “running gag”. Gags may be loosely defined as “the jokes clowns play on each other”. Bits are the clown’s sketches or routines made up of one or more gags either worked out and timed before going on stage or impromptu bits composed of familiar improvisational material. A gag may have a beginning, a middle and an end to them, or they may not. Gags can also refer to the prop stunts/tricks or the stunts that clowns use, such as a squirting flower. Menu Entrées are feature clowning acts lasting 5–10 minutes. They are typically made up of various gags and bits, and usually use a clowning framework. Entrées almost always end with a blow-off. (The blow-off is the comedic ending of a show segment, bit, gag, stunt or routine.) Side dishes are sh orter feature acts. Side dishes are essentially shorter versions of the Entrée, typically lasting 1–3 minutes. Side dishes are typically made up of various gags and bits, and usually use a clowning framework. Side dishes almost always end with a blow-off. Interludes “Clown Stops” or “interludes” are the brief appearances of clowns while the props and rigging are changed. These are typically made up of a few gags or several bits. Clown Stops almost always end with a blow-off. Clown stops will always have a beginning, a middle and an end to them. These are also called reprises or run-ins by many and in today’s circus they are an art form in themselves, originally they were bits of “business” usually parodying the act that had preceded it. If for instance there had been a wire walker the reprise would involve two chairs with a piece of rope between and the clown trying to imitate the artiste by trying to walk between them with the resulting falls and cascades bringing laugh ter from the audience. Today they are far more complex and in many modern shows the clowning is a thread that links the whole show together. Prop stunts Among the more well-known clown stunts are: squirting flower; the “too-many-clowns-coming-out-of-a-tiny-car” stunt; doing just about anything with a rubber chicken, tripping over ones own feet (or an air pocket or imaginary blemish in the floor), or riding any number of ridiculous vehicles or “clown bikes”. Individual prop stunts are generally considered to be individual bits. Fear of clowns Main article: coulrophobia A depiction of an evil clown, a character depicted in the media, which might cause anxiety to someone with coulrophobia The term coulrophobia has been proposed to denote an abnormal, exaggerated, or irrational fear of clowns. The term is of recent use but is not commonly used in psychology, and according to one analyst, “has been coined more on the Internet than in printed form because it does not appear in any previous ly published, psychiatric, unabridged, or abridged dictionary”. In particular, the term is not recognised as a specific disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in its latest categorisation of disorders, nor is it recognised by the World Health Organisation as a valid disorder. It is common for children to be afraid of disguised, exaggerated, or costumed figures—even Santa Claus. Ute myths feature a cannibalistic clown monster called the Siats. In the Space To Care study aimed at improving hospital design for children, researchers from the University of Sheffield polled 250 children regarding their opinions on clowns; all 250 children in the study, whose ages ranged between four and sixteen, reported that they found clowns frightening and disliked clowns as part of hospital decor. Clown costumes tend to exaggerate the facial features and some body parts, such as hands and feet and noses. This can be read as monstrous or deformed as easily as it can be read as comical. Some have suggested, however, that a fear of clowns may stem from early childhood experience, when infants begin to process and make sense of facial features. The significant aberrations in a clown’s face may frighten a child so much that they carry this phobia throughout their adult life. The British arts and music festival Bestival cancelled its planned clown theme in 2006 after many adult ticketholders contacted the organizers expressing a fear of clowns.
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