Hit hor­ror film It is no joke for strug­gling clowns

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Gwilym Mum­ford

The record-break­ing hor­ror film It may be a hit with au­di­ences, gross­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars at the global box of­fice in its first week, but one group is not cel­e­brat­ing the suc­cess of the lat­est adap­ta­tion of Stephen King’s novel: clowns.

For a com­mu­nity al­ready strug­gling to com­bat per­cep­tions of clowns as scary rather than fun, the emer­gence of Pen­ny­wise, the movie’s child-killing clown vil­lain, is truly the stuff of night­mares. Even be­fore the film’s re­lease the World Clown As­so­ci­a­tion was warn­ing that the film could cause its mem­bers to lose work, even go­ing as far as pub­lish­ing a press kit to pre­pare clowns for the dam­ag­ing ef­fects It might have on their rep­u­ta­tions.

Only a week into the film’s run at cin­e­mas, some clowns are com­plain­ing their busi­ness has taken a bat­ter­ing, with one Dar­ling­ton en­ter­tainer, Tommy Bun­gle, telling the Sun his bookings have fallen by a third. It’s no laugh­ing matter for an in­dus­try re­cov­er­ing from 2016’s global “killer clown” craze, which saw pranksters don clown cos­tumes to scare passersby.

“There’s def­i­nitely a neg­a­tiv­ity to the in­dus­try,” said South Wales-based clown Mr T Ricks, whose real name is Alan Paget. He said times are par­tic­u­larly tough for those who work as child en­ter­tain­ers. “I get phone calls and mes­sages on so­cial me­dia ask­ing ‘are you a scary clown’? It’s get­ting to the stage where it’s ridicu­lous,” he says. “Some­times I feel like say­ing ‘well, you’ll find out in your night­mares.’”

Not all clowns share this sense of doom and gloom. “A load of the folks who say ‘this is ter­ri­ble for the in­dus­try’ have been clown­ing for about five min­utes – they’ve not been through this be­fore,” said Ian Wil­liams, honorary sec­re­tary of Clowns In­ter­na­tional, which claims to be the world’s old­est clown or­gan­i­sa­tion. “It’s not go­ing to kill off clown­ing. It [The Tim Curry-star­ring TV minis­eries adap­ta­tion of It] came out 27 years ago. I was clown­ing then, I’m still clown­ing now.”

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