The truth is, clowns are rarely happy people under the greasepaint and the manic grin. An underlying feature of every funnyman is a background of hardship, suffering, and sadness. There is a reason why Robin Williams committed suicide and Lenny Bruce died of a drug overdose. If you listen to the comedy of George Carlin in his last few years, he became a horribly bitter and cynical man.
The reason for all this wearing of clown masks and underlying sadness is really based on a very simple equation. Living a hard life, but dealing with it with the power a sense of humor gives you, yields wisdom. And how do you best deliver wisdom to all the people out there? A sugar-coated candy shell is just the thing. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine to go down, to plagiarize Mary Poppins. Say your wise words like a wise guy and say it with a smile.
So why am I so clown-happy and therefore clown-posty today? Well, I have used clowns in a very metaphorical way in the novel I am now finishing, Sing Sad Songs. Clowns are definitely on my mind. And I have a sneaking suspicion creeping up on me that maybe… just maybe… I am myself a clown.