Creepy Clowns

Column: Legends, Lore, Superstitions, and More

Creepy clowns, they scared the world in 2016 and once again in 2017 when the movie It came out.


Clowns can trace their origins back to ancient Egypt as Pygmy clowns, in ancient imperial China as the YuSze, in ancient Rome as the stupidus, and in medieval Europe as jesters. Modern clowns can trace their origins to Joseph Grimaldi, a British actor.


Clowns have been around for a while but when did they get creepy? La femme de Tabarin by Catulle Mendès was a book that featured a killer clown that was released in 1895. Another person that could have contributed to the creepiness of clowns was John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist who is responsible for the assault and murder of about thirty-three men and boys in the 1970s. Gacy had worked at childrens’ parties and charity events as a clown named Pogo or Patches.




Creepy clowns became even more feared after Stephen King’s book, It, was released in 1986. The release of this book led to an increase in coulrophobia, the excessive fear of clowns. Even in more modern shows like American Horror Story: Freakshow clowns are being portrayed as homicidal and creepy.





Creepy clowns are not something new, but represent a fear that has been around for thousands of years.