The clown is a tragic creature, often portrayed as such in literature and films – the heart–torn man who must laugh out loud and make laugh as he seethes inside with the burning flames of anguish as water is poured over his head, never reaching the fire within.
The clown is a grotesque creature – a caricature of humanity that is intended for ridicule, but often horrifies instead, when the altruistic becomes self–serving. It is little wonder that the clown has become the main character in so many horror movies. The make–up that supposedly creates laughter, only slightly twisted to provoke the most abject terror instead. The perversity is in the irony. The symbol of merriment that doubles back on itself, creating the antithesis… the hero’s anti–hero or villain.
The clown can be a literary creation – the buffoon to be pitied, or the intelligent man to be feared. A Shakespearean Feste who invoked that the cowl does not the monk make. A man whose appearance belies what lies beneath.
The clown is an artistic creation – unique in configuration of visual presentation, the design stored on eggs in guarded vaults, copyrighted and padlocked to a name, immutable as a slapstick Bozo or a sad Pierrot. A part of individual cultures that craft the very nature of the clown – the head–hitting Punch, the tricky Arlecchino, the waddling Hobo, all signify something special to their countrymen. A creation for the people.
The clown destroys a lot of what he touches. He breaks heads – to the joy of an audience that likes comic violence … not a far cry from their Roman forbears, I would imagine, with only the deletion of “comic” separating them. He squashes cakes and pies in people’s faces. He falls disastrously and gets up, only to fall again. He is the eternal gymnast, landing on his feet, but tripping easily and falling heavily. An illusion that is real to those who see him.
Imagine if the clown had a whole island to play with. The tragic clown, the grotesque clown, the ridiculous clown, the destructive clown who always plays to the audience – the self–serving clown who still screams and struts and makes his audience laugh, or cower with terror, depending on their perception of him.
We have him, of course – the Maltese clown – an unstable clown in an undeserved position of power, hurling metaphorical, all too solidly destructive cream–pies at the very base of a country’s stability.
The whole country is in his hands, played with and juggled. Heaven help us if he drops the juggling balls, as the clown is supposed to do. Ham-handedly, too used to living in a fantasy world to be aware of the breakage that will not be undone. Or actually aware, as the literary clown is, two-faced, but uncaring.
Cole Porter famously said that all the world loves a clown. The danger is in when the clown does not love the world.