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Top-10 List: Creepiest Clowns Ever

I have to confess that I suffer from a disorder that currently has no cure. It’s a mild case but a haunting problem that few people talk about. 

Photo Credit – Creative Commons: Planet_Q!

But I’m breaking my silence. 

I have coulrophobia – an acute fear of clowns. While this may not have the same high-profile cache as other phobias such as fear of water, heights or overly-hairy women it is a real disorder and not a laughing matter.

In an effort to face this fear, I’ve compiled a list of the Top-10 Creepiest Clowns Ever. In addition to this “confrontation therapy,” I’m also writing this blog while dressed as Emmett Kelly Jr. to maximize the effect.

This type of therapy is challenging. Tears are streaking the grease paint on my face and dripping down to the water-squirting flower on my lapel – but I will endure. This blog is a safe place for me, thank you for your support. Here’s the list….

10. Krusty the Clown – this character from the cartoon series the Simpsons is not really scary because he’s pretty funny. Yet being a clown, by definition, makes him terrifying. Such is the irrationality of my phobia.

9. Any Sad-Faced Clown - I’ve never understood this idea. Clowns are supposed to be funny and the cognitive dissonance that results from grief-stricken face paint merely amps up the creep factor for me.

8. The Drunk, Mouse-Driving Clown from “Uncle Buck – this movie portrayal creeps my out because the clown shows up to the kid’s birthday party stumbling drunk, yet still believed he could entertain  kids. Bonus points for Jon Candy’s paternal instinct to punch the clown right in his squeaky red nose.

7. Ronald McDonald – I know this clown is beloved by children around the world because he makes fried, overly-processed foods fun but it’s the ubiquitous nature of this persona that gives me the willies – you can’t escape this clown! 

6. The KABOOM cereal Clown - this was the first clown (see photo insert) that gave me nightmares and then the horror was reinforced when I had to choke down a bowl of his sugary coated face when I woke up in the morning – taunting me with each frosted bite.

5. Charlie-in-the-Box Clown – now this character was one of the misfit toys in the Rankin-Bass production of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” which was and is a Christmas classic. In and of himself “Charlie” was not scary, but after I heard Charlie speak – that became the voice of the aforementioned, uber-creepy KABOOM clown in my nightmares.

4. Clarabell the Clown – this is an old-school clown from the Howdy Doody Show in the 1950’s that was re-introduced to my generation in the mid-70’s as the New Howdy Doody Show. The creepiest part of this guy was that he couldn’t talk and there was no attempt to use American Sign Language to communicate with anyone. That coupled with his freakish makeup – didn’t work for me as a kid.

3. The stuffed Clown from “The Poltergeist - these are getting really creepy now. This toy clown came to life and dragged the unsuspecting little boy under his bed. He beat the stuffing out of it – literally – but that image still lingers.

2. Pennywise the Clown from “It” – Stephen King released his book It in 1986, which then became a movie in 1990. Tim Curry was perfectly cast as the demonic, murderous title character. As a result, Pennywise and any bozo-resembling clown still makes my skin crawl.

1. Pogo the Clown – this was the persona that real-life, serial killer John Wayne Gacy used to identify and ensnare his young victims. This is an irredeemable blemish on the painted face of clowning and clownology. 

To be honest, writing this list didn’t make me feel better. Clowns are still creepy. So, if you’re having any kind of celebration, parade, fundraiser or kid’s shindig where clowns will be present – I won’t be.

Question: What are your feelings about clowns?
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  1. Okay, okay…stop clowning around and get serious.

  2. I know quite a few people with this phobia. It’s not very funny for them

  3. Clowns don’t bother me. If it makes a difference, my son has a pretty serious fear of mascots. Needless to say, Disney World is not on our list of places to visit.

    • You’re a braver man than me regarding clowns, yet I totally understand the mascot thing. While mascots weren’t a big deal for either of our girls when they each went to Sesame Place at ages two respectively they were fine with the giant Grover and Cookie Monsters – other kids screamed bloody murder…

      • My friend was chased by Roary, the Detroit Lions’ mascot at an event we attended together. She was screaming, so I chased after Roary to tell him to stop. Those mascots can run fast! I told the program manager they needed to think about putting Roary in as a running back…ha ha ha!

  4. I’m ok with clowns at a distance but they never seem to stay away. Its like a magnet they seem drawn to me. Clowns need to stay out of other peoples personal space.

  5. I’ll give you the “It” clown, but Krusty? … Come on, Tor ;) Entertaining post.

  6. This is hysterically funny! I also have coulrophobia, due to a clown at a childhood b-day party popping the balloon intentionally when making me a balloon animal. Not nice of him! I also am leery of primary colors and balloons! Heehee! I don’t tend to like bands that wear heavy makeup…hmm, maybe that is why Kiss never resonated with me? Ha ha ha! Alice Cooper is cool thought to me, so maybe I have selective coulrophobia. I would put John Wayne Gacy as #1 on my list. He was scary! Ironically, I like a band called Pennywise…ha ha ha! I can laugh at myself…

  7. The only clown in this roster with which I am familiar is Clarabell. And, she was pretty cool in person. It’s the first time I learned about the peanut gallery!
    You can have the rest of them- and the scariest clowns to me are those purporting to be Senators and Congressfolks- who are playing with our country’s health, planning to do nothing, but hurt the other team!

  8. Mullenann4 says:

    I saw “It” when I was a “grown up” and have hated clowns and Stephen King, by the way, ever since. There was also a stupid movie my kids liked to torment me by talking about called something about Clowns from Outer Space. I don’t think I have a phobia. It’s not a phobia when you know they are out to get you. Thanks, Tor.

  9. Hi Tor,

    I never really had a problem with clowns, but a friend of mine, who was over 6 feet tall, was terrified of midgets. He told me this when I first met him, but I just kind of blew it off. Then one day, he and I were at the mall. I was looking at some greeting cards and I felt his hand on my shoulder. “We gotta get out of here NOW,” he said. I turned around and, sure enough, a midget stood directly behind us. We tried to keep as low a profile as possible, but before we could make it past the checkout, my friend started hyperventilating. The clerk thought he was having a heart attack and offered to call 911. It’s kind of funny to think about now, but at the time my friend was in some serious pain.

    Great post, Tor. Thanks for sharing!


  10. the only clown that really scared me was from an episode of Nick at Nite’s “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?”

    The only thing that should be afraid of Krusty is Krusty, he treats himself very poorly

  11. Jennwith2ns says:

    I actually think coulrophobia is moderately common. I hear about it a lot. I used to be terrified of clowns as a child. I wouldn’t say I still fear them, exactly, but I definitely don’t like them.

  12. I’m thinking Kramer, from Seinfeld here. But on another note, my daughter’s mother-in-law went to some kind of clown classes. When the grandchildren came, I wondered how I could compete with that! It hasn’t been an issue yet – maybe she was just clowning around with me.

    • I see how that could have been vexing – but the costumes, freakish makeup and seeming radiation-induced-wispy baldness of virtually all clowns can only be described as frightening. So according to my calculus, your funny trumps her fear!

  13. Clowns don’t bother me , but I wondered what you thought about the episode of Mary Tyler Moore where Chuckles the Clown dies.

  14. Don’t see the point in clowns anyways! Most people are afraid of them but just dont say it.

  15. Wish i could overcome this agoraphobia. I have delt with since 18 yrs old! Phobia is no joke! I hate it! They say its all mental but tell my brain that. Is hard.agoraphobia is a terrible thing! I deal with! And i can relate to anyone who has any at all! God blesz

  16. My concern with clowns is that they are just one meatball sandwich stained t-shirt and a park bench away from would-be pedophiles. Apologies to clowns, but I think I speak for all humanity when I say that’s the perception.

    Also, I’d like to shoe-horn an entry into this list… The Violator (John Leguizamo clown from Spawn)

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