Why must I always play the clown? Asked Mr. Hudson, before he left the UK to work with Kanye West, presumably not as his court jester. And indeed, in a society facing Tescopolies, global warming and standing-room only population growth, what does a red-rouged man in Rupert check trousers bring to the party?

The sad clown clichés are never far away, and it is difficult to think of clowns without the implication of tragedy. Which is unfair, as so few tragedies involving clowns have actually occurred– unless circumstances surrounding the Titanic, space shuttle Challenger and Westlife have been misreported. But, just as the Rolling Stones are now simply famous for remaining alive, so it seems clowns are more renowned for their tears and intrinsic terror value than actually being funny. This was evidenced when Bestival’s fancy dress theme was cancelled a few years ago, due to organisers being alerted to the number of Coulrophobia sufferers who had purchased tickets. In light of many using festivals as an opportunity to reduce the world’s stockpiles of recreational drugs, this was probably a wise decision.

Frankly, Coulrophobia smacks of bored psychologists tapping their teeth with a pen while drug companies demand new phobias, but Bestival presumably wished to avoid people being assisted from K-holes, bad trips and cowpats by Samaritans wearing size 20 shoes, red noses and palm buzzers. Thankfully, Camp Bestival’s Super Hero replacement theme resulted in the rare sight of Superman being stretchered into an ambulance too weak to wave away concern from fellow Avengers, X-men and Batman.

But perhaps there is an answer. With so many Coulrophobics, some criminals are likely to suffer too, and could be punished with community orders dictating they get jumped, without warning, by clowns. This would address clown unemployment and stop any sane Coulrophobics (this is not contradiction, they do exist) from committing crimes. These Jumping Orders could even be effective on criminals without Coulrophobia. After all, no one over the age 5 wants a life in which a clown might jump them any moment. The only problem with Jumping Orders is that perpetrating clowns themselves will be immune, leaving the only course of punitive action on lawbreaking clowns being the one thing scarier. ‘Living statues’, the fear of which has no name. Those psychiatrists need to pull their finger out.

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