Listed mostly in order of when they were cited, though a few additional links are thrown in for extra context. Annotated where appropriate or necessary.
Wikipedia – “Clown”
Pretty straight forward article, though sometimes a little less than helpful in regards to anything specific that you might be interested in. There’s a lot of information, however, and it is a good starting place if you’re interested in getting some background. There’s a lot of history to get into and I don’t think the article can really cover it all, which is why sometimes it requires you to do a bit more research into other things. Still a good starting point if clowning history is of interest to you. Also a good place to see the different varieties of what is a clown.
Wikipedia – “Heyoka”
This is a good, if small, look at one example of sacred clowning. I do want to mention here that I include discussion on this figure in the podcast because I think this is an important history to be aware of. That said, this is a bare bones kind of look at sacred clowns. While I do encourage people to look more into this, at the same time, it should be noted that a lot of times, particularly when dealing with any indigenous cultures, their sacred roles are not really for outside consumption. This is both because it is extremely important to their specific beliefs and also to protect those sacred beliefs from being used and commodified by outsiders. This has been seen to happen to other figures like Skinwalkers or the Wendigo, both of whom have very specific meanings and have been co-opted by pop culture. Baring all this in mind, I still encourage people to read about it and, if the information is out there, talk to people in museums and learn more where it’s available. That said, if you are interested and you’re finding that you’re hitting a lot of locked doors or finding that a lot of people aren’t that okay with talking about it, please be respectful and know that these roles are something important that might not be okay to keep digging at. And there’s always something else to be researched if that’s the case so be kind and keep being curious. Just maybe not about this topic.
“A Surprising History of the Bad Clown” – Fiona MacDonald – BBC Culture – Oct 2016
Most of the same information that you’ll find from the Smithsonian article listed below but there is some extra context about clowning in different cultures and contexts.
“The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary” – Linda Rodriguez McRobbie – Smithsonian Magazine; July 2013
Excellent resource though somewhat brief in all its points. One thing that should be added here is that the study that was conducted regarding the 2008 survey is somewhat contested. According to author Benjamin Radford, the survey was not specifically about clowns, but rather about clown decor that had been painted in a hospital. For more information, please read his book, Bad Clowns, listed below.
“The Surprising History Behind the Scary Clown Phenomenon” – Olivia B Waxman – Time Magazine; October 2016
Cites many of the same resources as the Smithsonian article but features more on Mr. Punch and an actual passage from The Pickwick Papers by Dickens. It also begins the article with a timely report on the “scary clown” phenomenon that was happening around the time of the release of the IT remake.
Stephen King interview with Conan O’Brien – 2005
King’s answer about his inspiration for killer clowns begins at time mark 2:39. It should be noted that there is more to Pennywise than this but in reference to their monstrous appearance, King had a great quote here.
The Semiotics of Clowns and Clowning: Rituals in Transgression and the Theory of Laughter
Paul Bouissac – Bloomsbury Academic Publishing – 2015
There are portions of this book available online through Google Scholar. This is a good read to get a better understanding of the clown as an entertainer and the role it plays in society in general. It’s a good counter balance to the thinkpieces that only focus on the darker elements of figure. While there is a chapter that does discuss death, it also has a chapter on the role of the clown in the greater world, beyond North America and more that you can learn about the role of clowning in organizations that help refugee children.
“Profile of Joseph Grimaldi” – History of Circus – 2020
A scant biography of Grimaldi but gives a good overview of his accomplishments. Leaves out most of his grim history but does mention the memorial service held on the first Sunday of every February in the Holy Trinity Church in London that pays honor to him. It is said that clowns the world over attend in full regalia to pay their respects and celebrate his legacy.
Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi – Joseph Grimaldi; Edited by Charles Dickens (Boz) – Original publication in 1838 Accessed through Project Gutenberg 2014
Included as an additional resource for those who wish to know more about the famous clown and his life. Dickens is confirmed to to have been editor of work but chose to remain anonymous at the time and signing off on the project only as Boz.
“New Church for Clowns in London” – The Guardian – archival article from 1959 – No Byline listed
Confirmation of the Clown’s Church service in honor of Grimaldi and his legacy. This article stated that the clowns were not dressed in their colorful regalia, however, this only extended to services between 1959 and 1967. According to another source, included below for context, permission to attend in their clowning clothing was permitted later. Credit for the article is pending but there was no author listed.
“Clowns Church Service” – Laura Porter – Trip Savvy Article – May 2017
Included for additional context on the church services that honor Grimaldi’s legacy and also helps to clarify when the clowns were allowed to attend in their regalia. Also gives information for anyone who is interested in attending.
“The Romantic Myth of Jean-Gaspard Deburau” – Edward Nye – University of Nebraska – Nineteenth Century French Studies 44 1-2: Fall/Winter 2015/2016
*Note: This link was accessed during the Covid 19 pandemic when the published allowed for it to be read for free and may or may not still be available upon the time of the release of the podcast episode.
This is a good article to get a sense of exactly how important Deburau’s contribution to the French art of pantomime was and how he changed the role of Pierrot the clown.
Benjamin Radford – University of New Mexico Press – 2016
This is a fairly in depth analysis of the clown figure and has a lot of great information. There’s more information about things that didn’t really fit in this podcast, including a list of fictional clowns that I couldn’t get to, quotes from different writers and filmmakers in regards to more famous fictional bad clowns, interviews with actual clowns that currently work in traveling carnivals and a section on clown criminals, including a section on the crimes of John Wayne Gacy. All of this taken into account, be aware that there is a section in this book dedicated to clown porn and while there’s no pictures really and nothing that graphic, if that is something that isn’t really that appealing to you, know that it might be worth it to skip that chapter. I highly recommend this as a resource if you are interested in clowns, however.
“Are Punch and Judy Shows Finally Outdated” – Linda Rodriguez McRobbie – The Smithsonian Magazine – 2013
Good intro to tell you more about Mr. Punch’s antics and a very brief history of where the character came from. It’s a bit sparse of a resource but it gives a good overview and gives a better sense of how the character is seen in Britain versus in any of the colonized territories, particularly America.
“Punch and Judy in America: Lecture and Oral History with Mark Walker” – Stephanie Hall – The Library of Congress: Folklife Today – November 2019
Good review of the history of the Punch and Judy shows, especially in regards to their arrival in North America. There are two videos of Mark Walker talking about the history of this puppet, its origins, how Punch came to America and his experiences as a “professor” of the show. Walker is extremely knowledgable about its history and both videos are worth a watch to get more resources on Punch if you are looking to dig deeper into this figure.
“Hand and Rod Puppets: Punch and Judy” – Canadian Museum of History
Available through the online archives of the museum in Quebec, this gives us a picture of the puppets themselves and a little background on where and when they were used. It also gives a very brief but interesting on how the puppets were passed down and how they came to the museum.
“Puppets Come Home! Punch Kamikaze: Punch and Judy” – Coney Island Official Website
A recent show that is scheduled for August of 2020 to be performed by a number of Punch and Judy puppeteers, doing specific elements of their own shows. One of the very few places that can reliably put on a Punch and Judy show in modern times is Coney Island.
Example of a Punch and Judy show performed for Mr. Punch’s 350th Birthday. This is a more modern version of the show that still showcases the characteristic slapstick but isn’t quite as heavy on the spousal abuse. That said, there is a baby that gets nonchalantly tossed down an imaginary flight of stairs so it’s not exactly toothless. Also of note is that the “professor” character is actually another puppet in this case, appropriately a clown named Joey.
Older example of a Punch and Judy show – fair warning, this has a lot more of the characteristic violence that embodies Mr. Punch but with less of the attempted or actualized murder. There are other shows available online that show these things but you would be forgiven for not wishing to watch them because Mr. Punch has a voice like a kewpie doll in a blender.
“Art the Clown” article accessed through Wikipedia – 2020
A small biography that summarizes who Art is and the history of his prior appearances and his role in the film Terrifier as well as its upcoming sequel.
“Horror Business: The Making of Damien Leone’s Terrifier” – Nick Taylor – Dread Central – 2018
Interview with the filmmaker who created Art the Clown and the films that he’s been featured in. His answers regarding the process behind creating Art are in the first answer but he does have more insight into the films, the character and the process it took to bring him to life on screen for those who are interested. Also as a fun aside: Director Damien Leone was also the one who does the special effects for the film and created Art’s signature black and white look.
“MLive Interview with Art the Clown (and Damien Leone)” – February 2020
Added for those who haven’t seen any of the movies that this clown has been featured in. Despite the title, Art (or rather David Howard Thornton in costume) remains in character for the interview and leaves all the answering to Leone. This gives you a good idea of Art’s antics as the killer clown and he’s actually kind of hilarious to watch so I recommend it if you are a fan or even if you don’t know anything about this clown.
“’Terrifier’ – Why Art the Clown is the Newest Baddest Clown in Town” – Danielle Cervantes – iHorror – September 2018
Short review of Terrifier that includes scenes from that film as well as the pervious ones, as well as the two different actors who have portrayed Art.
“Dark Knight Flashback: The Joker, Part 1” – Brian K. Eason – CBR – July 2008
A history piece written about Joker in advance of the Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger as the Clown Prince of Crime. For those of you who are interested in the background on the character and are intimidated by the sheer volume of comics that date back all the way to 1940, this is a great retrospective that covers a lot of it in an accessible way. There’s also coverage of the dispute on who exactly created the character, which in a way fulfills what Joker once said about his own history, in that he preferred to consider it multiple choice.
Archived Review of The Dark Knight by Roger Ebert – Originally published by the Chicago Times – July 2008
All quotes pulled from the film The Dark Knight are verified here.
“From Jack to Joaquin, A Look at the Different Psychologies of Each Joker” – Brandon Katz – Observer – October 2019
Good article to showcase the versatility of the Joker as a character but also how each approach is rooted in a different motive and psychological approach.
“Batman Team Addresses THAT Twist in Endgame” – Joshua Yehl – IGN – April 2015
This is an article that isn’t referenced in the podcast but is a good resource to see how the teams behind different versions of Batman and Joker approach these iconic characters to build and create their stories. This article does contain spoilers for issue 40 and it’s kind of a big one so if you are reading this particular arch, be forewarned that it tells you exactly how it’s going to end. That said, while none of the text is referenced, this article does contain a picture of the panels that depict the “smile” injury that Joker carves in Batman’s back.
“The Joker: Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime: Comics Arts Conference #1 at SDCC 2016”
Quote about the Joker as related to Nietzche starts at 6:31 and Batman embracing his shadow nature start time is 13:02. You can watch the whole talk if you like, though be forewarned that someone it is difficult to hear. I would have loved to get my hands on the book prior to but sadly, the ebook was beyond my budget at the time of writing so their shorter discussions will have to suffice.
Grant Morrison – Spiegel & Grau – 2011
This book is recommended for anyone interested in the history of comics. That said, there are elements of this book that haven’t aged as well as all that. Some of the commentary on the movies and specifically the actresses in certain roles were a little bit on the cruel side and not entirely necessary to convey that certain movies sucked. Yes, everyone and their imaginary friends knows that Batman and Robin sucks. That’s not an excuse to make a shitty comment about Alicia Silverstone. So yeah, be on the awares for that but if you want to know more about the extensive history of comic books, Morrison is a writer for the medium and does know his shit.
“The Great Stephen King Reread – IT” – Grady Hendrix – Tor – Sept 2013
A review written by an excellent fellow horror writer, Grady Hendrix tackles both the background and the plot of the book, IT.
Reviews of Stephen King’s IT – Paperback edition from Oct 1987 – Goodreads
Mostly included for context if you are wanting to see what readers had to say. There are more reviews to be found if you switch the edition of the book to the kindle or the hardcover versions. Also be forewarned if you have not read the book as there are sometimes unmarked spoilers in the reviews and elements that appear only in the book but don’t appear in either of the movie adaptations.
Folk and Fairy Tales – Second Edition
Edited by Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek – Broadview Press – 1996
The quote by Jack Zipes is found on page 21 and was taken from his book called The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. The chapter that I took this quote from is basically just a collection of different Red Riding Hood tales but the overarching theme was that of the loss of innocence and how danger is presented to the unwary and the under prepared.
“IT: Pennywise the Monster Clown Origin Explained” – John Orquiola – Screen Rant – Sept 2017
Considering the length of the novel, it is understandable that some may not be able to run that gauntlet. If that’s you, here’s a handy guide to give you a bit more background on the character of Pennywise and what his connection to the Kingverse is. This is particularly citing the 2017 remake in some cases but it’s still a good prep if you are unfamiliar or need a bit of a guide if you haven’t read the book.
Trailer for the Pennywise: The Story of IT documentary, released on Netflix in 2019. The documentary has interviews with the surviving cast members of the 1990 film as well as the crew. It details bringing the book to life as well as the challenges of working with the material from the book, the antics of the child actors and the behind the scenes of bringing King’s vision to life. Not quoted for this episode because at time of writing, I did not have a chance to access it but if you are interested in the film and how it came to be, give it a watch.
“In Retrospect, the 1990 IT Miniseries is Terrifyingly Campy and Hilarious” – Kate Gardner – The Mary Sue – July 2019
A retrospective review of the miniseries with some good insight into the changes that they made between the original and the remake. If you aren’t fond of the original movie, which the review points out the flaws of, or don’t have access to it, this is a good place to remind yourself of what was there without having to watch it. The only thing I am going to add, however, is that it downplays Curry’s creep factor a little more than I would agree with. It’s true that the actor really hammed it up with the Brooklyn accent and certain times like the “Kiss me, Fatboy” scene where he’s clearly just having fun, but there are times when he’s still impressively creepy.
“The Evolution of Pennywise (Clown from IT Movies)” – Daileas Duclo – HorrorNews.Net – Date unavailable
Admittedly, this article is a little rough around the edges, as it’s clear it hasn’t been edited very well. That said, the observations it makes about the differences between Curry and Skarsgard’s portrayals in their respective films is pretty spot on. This is also one of the few sources that I’ve been able to find where the author goes into the strengths and weaknesses that were part of the miniseries version of Pennywise, while still giving the original clown his due.
“Rare Photo Shows Tim Curry in Unused Pennywise Concept Makeup” – John Squires – Dread Central – 2016(?)
Again with the time stamp being somewhat vague as to the publication of the article. This is a great behind the scenes look at the development of the makeup and the concept of what Pennywise would look like for the miniseries. This article features some background information from the designer on how he came up with the look and what his inspiration was. There are some great concept sketches, as well as Curry in early test makeup.
“Tim Curry Talks IT at Fan Expo Canada” – Bloodbath & Beyond – Uploaded Sept 2017
Quote from Tim Curry starts at 1:33. Another treat of getting to hear Tim Curry talk about his experience in filming IT. The actor talks about what it was like to work with the child actors, has some great stories about it and throws some shade at the ending of the 1990 miniseries. He also comments on the passing of the torch to Bill Skarsgard and has some kind words to say in regards to the changes to the clown.
“IT Pennywise Lives! – Bill Skarsgard” – Bill Skarsgard – Uploaded Dec 2017
Quote from director Andy Muschietti starts at 2:49 and the quote from Bill Skarsgard is at 6:58. This is a great clip to give you more behind the scenes context for the 2017 remake of IT. The interviews with the kids are great and there’s a lot to be gained from hearing what both Andy and Barbara Muschietti (the director and producer, respectively) had to say about the development of the character and how they brought him to the screen. Also the interview with the young actor who played Eddie in regards to the first scene he shot with Skarsgard is priceless.
“How the Unrelenting Threat of Death Shapes Our Behavior” – Hans Villarica – The Atlantic – May 2012
A very informative article and interview with Jeff Greenberg about his work on Terror Management Theory in regards how people adapt and adjust to the knowledge that they will die. It is particularly telling in how people react to their own mortality, given the experiments he describes and I very much recommend looking into the article and the work he did with his fellow scholars.
“Death Positivity in the Face of Grief” – Megan Devine – The Order of the Good Death – January 2018
A personal essay about the difficulties of tackling grief when the death is one that is sudden or violent or out of what we expect. Devine is a clinical councillor and has spoken about the topic numerous times. She is specifically talking about the death positive movement in this work, and how it could better approach the experiences of those who are grieving in ways that don’t fit within what she quotes as the “normal process” of dying of old age related issues. Might be a tough read for some but it’s a good one.
Intro Music – Waltz to Death by Sir Cubworth
Additional music – Magical Dirt by Sir Cubworth
Pennywise Figure – Marco Stoffers from https://pixabay.com/photos/weird-frightening-halloween-fear-4592123/
Joker bust – nalik25390 from https://pixabay.com/photos/joker-soldier-suicide-squad-chest-1822273/
Clown art – Jacqueline Macou from https://pixabay.com/photos/circus-clown-disguise-fun-fair-653851/
Pulcinella/Mr. Punch – Steve Bidmead from https://pixabay.com/photos/punchinello-clown-fun-352052/
Additional thanks to Jonathan Glass for his assistance with the sound! You can find him online through his musical project Sea of Dead Faces!
Special thanks to my Patrons: Meghan T, Melissa B, Jonathan G and Tim M for helping to make this possible!