The image of the evil clown is a development in American popular culture, in which the playful trope of the clown is rendered as disturbing through the use of horror elements and dark humor.


The concept of the evil clown is related to the fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia.

The cultural critic Mark Dery has theorized the postmodern archetype of the Evil Clown in "Cotton Candy Autopsy: Deconstructing Psycho-Killer Clowns" (a chapter in his cultural critique The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink). Tracking the image of the demented or deviant clown across popular culture, Dery analyzes the "Pogo the Clown" persona of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy; the obscene clowns of the neo-Situationist Cacophony Society; The Joker (of "Batman" Fame); the grotesque art of R.K. Sloane; the sick-funny Bobcat Goldthwaite comedy "Shakes the Clown"; Stephen King's It, and the graphic novel Arkham Asylum. Using Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque, Jungian and historical writings on the images of the fool in myth and history, and ruminations on the mingling of ecstasy and dread in the Information Age, Dery asserts the Evil Clown is an icon for our times. Clowns have been decipted as murderous psychopaths at many american haunted houses.

Evil clown in Juggalo cultureEdit

Insane Clown Posse is a hip hop group that is known for their face paint and horrorcore style.[1] They have coined the term "wicked clowns" to describe their evil clown personas. Acid rap artist Esham performed under the persona "Homey the Clown" for the two albums Homey Don't Play and I Ain't Cha Homey, the former of which inspired Insane Clown Posse to develope their own evil clown personas.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin. "The Dark Carnival". in Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 09741846083. 
  2. Bruce, Joseph (June 25, 2004). "Weekly Freekly: 2". Psychopathic Records. Archived from the original on 2002-09-03. Retrieved on 2008-08-17.
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