That’s right, 2014. No better news will come out this year. If I find that a mysterious rich uncle left me $55 billion and a yacht it will not be better news than this. If the Cubs decide to avoid baseball this summer and save us all the errors and collapsing it will not be better than this. If Sean Hannity plunges into a sinkhole filled with monstrous giraffe-sized worms who feast on pouting, it will not be better than this. OK, that last one will be pretty close, but still: Bring the children into the room, find a comfortable chair and grab a nice bottle of seltzer, for drinking:
The United States is facing a severe clown shortage.
HOW GREAT IS THAT? It’s working! We’re getting rid of clowns! Which is frankly long overdue, because it’s been like 300 years and several circus mergers since anybody needed them. And I say that as someone who has purposefully attended an Insane Clown Posse concert, which was — and this is not a joke — easily the most positive clown-related environment I’ve ever been in. (Seriously, however much Faygo you think those guys spray at an average small-market concert, it’s like a million times more Faygo. I didn’t know Faygo made that much Faygo. And the concert ended with like 20 guys on stage, mostly in face paint, and lights and confetti and lasers and Faygo and everyone hopping around stage performing a thrice-punctuated track called “Bang! Pow! Boom!” and it was maybe deeply entertaining? I don’t know, all the confetti was very disorienting.)
Because everybody loves a clown, except me. I hate clowns with an intractable hate, a hate so pure and glorious that it should be studied by scientists and chased after by fictional sci-fi heroes. You see floppy shoes and lapel roses that squirt water, I see terrifying, startling, bone-curdling, spine-chilling, red-nosed deathly minions of hell and lapel roses that squirt water, which are admittedly a little funny.
I used to have nightmares about clowns actually. The clowns — there were always two or three of them, because they travel in packs, like velociraptors — would chase me across a desert, a scorched dead landscape strewn with rocks and tumbleweeds and coyote and Sergio Leone. In each dream I’d be running, running, running away from their cackling and their unicycles, which would keep popping up from behind cactus after cactus after gila monster after cactus. (My subconscious tended to put gila monsters in a lot of dreams. Have you ever been in a falling elevator with a gila monster? Weird feeling.)
Anyway, childhood night terrors notwithstanding, the News-paper is reporting that membership in the World Clown Association, America’s largest clown trade organization, is declining to levels that are making its members cry one single black tear that never actually rolls down their cheek. Membership is down 28% in the past ten years, from 3,500 to 2,500. To which I reply: Wait, there’s still 2,500 clowns in this country? OUR WORK IS NOT DONE YET, PEOPLE! If we push it we can get that number down to 60 or 70 by the next presidential election.
Why are clowns deserting the trade, you might ask rightly? The answer may surprise you. Wait, no it won’t. “What happens is (the kids, it’s those damn kids) go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” said Glen Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International, to the Daily News. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.” See? Clowns just aren’t wait does that say late 40s and early 50s? People are coming out of other jobs, other careers, and THEN going into clown college? Jeez, the job market really is screwed, isn’t it.
One other part of the problem: The kids these days. “(American kids) are thinking about everything other than clowning,” said Cyrus Zavich, president of a small New York clown group. The younger generation: They’ve got their faces stapled to social media, they’re self-obsessed and have no attention spans, but at least they’ve got a handle on this clown thing.