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In Roman theater, a term for clown was fossor, literally "digger; labourer". 1560 (as clowne, cloyne) in the generic meaning "rustic, boor, peasant".The origin of the word is uncertain, perhaps from a Scandinavian word cognate with clumsy.
He was a lower class character dressed in tattered servants' garb.Their entertainment style is generally designed to entertain large audiences, especially at a distance.Modern clowns are strongly associated with the tradition of the circus clown, which developed out of earlier comedic roles in theatre or Varieté shows during the 19th to mid 20th centuries.The now-classical features of the clown character were developed in the early 1800s by Joseph Grimaldi, who played Clown in Charles Dibdin's 1800 pantomime Peter Wilkins: or Harlequin in the Flying World at Sadler's Wells Theatre, where Grimaldi built the character up into the central figure of the harlequinade. The modern circus derives from Philip Astley's London riding school, which opened in 1768.Astley added a clown to his shows to amuse the spectators between equestrian sequences. Fox became known for his clown role, directly inspired by Grimaldi, in the 1860s.Some writers have argued that due to the widespread use of such comedy and its long history it is a need that is part of the human condition.
The "fear of clowns," circus clowns in particular as a psychiatric condition has become known by the term coulrophobia.
In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden theatres.
He became so dominant on the London comic stage that harlequinade Clowns became known as "Joey", and both the nickname and Grimaldi's whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns.
Red Skelton's character in The Clown (1953), Dodo the Clown, depicts the circus clown as a tragicomic stock character, "a funny man with a drinking problem".
In the United States, Bozo the Clown was a very influential Auguste character since the late 1950s.
The comedy that clowns perform is usually in the role of a fool whose everyday actions and tasks become extraordinary—and for whom the ridiculous, for a short while, becomes ordinary.