Arts & CultureCultural Affairs

The Gateway’s Clown Bracket

From Halloween horror clowns, to creepy clown appearances in Grande Prairie, to the recent Edmonton Clown Festival, clowns have been big in the news. But which clown is the best? Clowns are highly diverse population, so careful deliberation was needed to find out.

The contenders:

Wikipedia User Mel 23

Krusty the Clown 

Not the clown we want but the clown we deserve. The Simpson’s iconic clown is a sad, alcoholic TV entertainer with a fast food empire that bears his name. If Krusty the Clown isn’t downright symbolic of the modern celebrity/clown, I don’t know what else is! And besides, this clown’s survived getting arrested, getting cancelled and a murderous sideshow performer! This guy can take anything you throw at him and come back “Hey Hey Kids”-ing!
– Matt Gwozd

Wikipedia User Simon Burchell

Fast food clowns

McDonald’s is a hotbed for great marketing strategies. Just look at Ronald McDonald and his encouraging smile, constantly triggering kids to gorge on processed meat nubs dipped in some kind of sugary sauce. He is the definition of killing with kindness.

But I do like Jack at Jack in the Box. He looks as though you could sit down and talk and to him about anything. Just him to smile and continue to smile day in and day out. And also, don’t forget Wendy from, well, Wendy’s — she’s superfine.
– Evan Mudryk

The Joker 

There have been many revered Clown Prince of Crimes throughout the years — who could forget Cesar Romero’s 1960s psychopath, Jack Nicholson’s unhinged crime boss, or Heath Ledger’s oddly sexy agent of chaos. Yet, no incarnations were as terrifying or cruel as whatever the FUCK Jared Leto did to the iconic Batman baddie. Method acting, more like please let this meth kick in before I remember too much of this god awful performance. The Joker as an icon inspires endless fear in the streets of Gotham, but Jared Leto is left as the Dark Knight’s ultimate clowning insult.
Sam Podgurny

Charlie Chaplin 

Charlie Chaplin, the unofficial King of Silent Comedy, both cemented and expanded our notions of what clowning can be. His comedy dovetails with political themes (The Great Dictator) and lambasts the onslaught of capitalism (Modern Times). He’s also a pioneer for physical comedy: The Three Stooges, Jim Carrey, Seinfeld’s Kramer, and Mr. Bean would be nowhere without the foundational work of Chaplin. A true visionary, Chaplin’s slapstick comedy combined with pathos is always timeless.
– Arden Burtnik

The 2016 Clown-pocalypse

The Mayans predicted it guys and now it’s happening! What started in South Carolina is spreading to Canada and next the world! One of these “killer clowns” even threatened to show up at Harry Ainlay High School here in Edmonton. It’s not clear why these “clowns” choose to dress up and terrorize their neighbourhoods but what is clear is people are having none of it! Several creepy clowns have been arrested and numerous others have been attacked and beaten up.
– Matt Gwozd

Insane Clown Posse

When I was in high school there was a certain group of kids who hung out by the dumpsters, smoked spliffs before 10am, and called themselves juggalos and jugalettes. These were my school’s honorary members of the Insane Clown Posse, a wanky white rapper duo from Detroit who wear Rorschach-like makeup and go by the names “Violent J” and “Shaggy 2 Dope.” In 1999 the grouped founded the Juggalo Wrestling Championship and in 2010 Tila Tequila was pelted with shit onstage at the 11th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos. Say what you will about those harmless kids behind the dumpsters, but the ICP completely reinvented clowning into an elaborate cult-like nightmare of feces-throwing homophobes and misogynists.
– Arden Butnik

Guy Fieri 

Don’t let his bleach blonde, crisply spiked hair, backwards sunglass around his neck, and flame-laden bowling shirt deceive you, this Food Network fool is truly the top clown around. Fieri’s weathered, leathery skin is better than any basic white face paint, and his bright red muscle car would kick the ass of any clown car. Plus any dude this white and this in love with BBQ who still can manage a name drop in a Drake song deserves top clowning credit. His show may be known as “Triple D,” but when it comes to clowning, Fieri is Triple A.
Sam Podgurny

Flickr User m01229

John Wayne Gacy

That’s right: for all those scary-ass killer clowns in movies that had you consoling yourself at night chanting that it’s “just a movie,” there was a real-life backing man. Meet John Wayne Gacy Jr., a prolific serial killer and rapist from the 70s who killed at least 33 dudes in a six-year period. If that weren’t bad enough, his day job was a legit clown who performed at children’s birthday parties… as “Pogo the Clown.” Turns out some nightmares are real.
– Victoria Chiu

Drunk Birthday Clown 

“W-w-weeell hi-eyo kiddosss,” Drunk Birthday Clown slurs while stumbling into a pile of presents. “H-h-h-happpy b-urth- *burps up vodka* -dayyy lil’ Timmyyyy. Imadeyouaballoonsword,” he garbles while handing Timmy a poor phallic excuse for a sword balloon. “Now lemme drink this ‘ere magicccc potion I ‘ave. D’ya wan sum va-ka?” Drunk Birthday Clown proceeds to pour his flask of vodka into a toy horn and chugs it in front of a wide-eyed audience of 6-year-olds, “G’nightiee mo’fuckaa-“ then pukes and passes out face first into Timmy’s birthday cake. Drunk Birthday Clown drowns in his own vomit. It wasn’t a very happy birthday for Timmy.
– Ashton Mucha

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”He might as well play with his face painted, he’s a clown to me. Quote that, you can quote that.”
-Rudy Gay on Kendrick Perkins[/pullquote]

Insulting someone by calling them a clown

Different from more standard slurs, such as “idiot,” “asshole,” or fool,” “clown” showcases an insulter’s strong linguistic ability, which is key for winning a confrontation. Furthermore, the title of clown insults a person on multiple fronts by implying a lack of intelligence, maturity, and self-control (and lacks the self-awareness to know it). While using the insult isn’t going to make you win a chirp-off, it’ll certainly give you the upper hand.
– Jamie Sarkonak

Grade 6 class clown 

Timmy’s fear-inducing arsenal of tacks, whoopee cushions, and “your mom” jokes causes teachers to fume every day. Thankfully, his youthful sense of anarchy is appreciated and valued by peers, who cheer him on his class-disrupting antics.  He’s a good kid, but “how does his mother handle this every day?” The principal wonders, after having to give Timmy his fourth talking-to after math class.
– Jamie Sarkonak

Pennywise from Stephen King’s It 

Pennywise is just one of the many incarnations of “It”, a shape-shifting, inter-dimensional being that preys on schoolchildren. When It’s not teasing Its hair with copious amounts of hairspray and a blowtorch — or, say, eating children — It likes to spend Its time chilling in the sewers of Derry, Maine, taking the form of a giant, pregnant f-f-female black spider!* Sometimes, It takes the shape of its victims deepest, darkest fears: for a grade 6 student, for example, It might take the form of the sudden onset of puberty. The majority of murders at the hands of It are never reported by mainstream media outlets — one reason being that Derry, Maine is a small town nobody cares about. Stephen King implies another reason: It never let them.
– Jonah Angeles

That clown joke from Watchmen

Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.

In a bracket full of clowns that either terrify you or make you laugh, that clown joke from Watchmen is in a league of its own. It doesn’t split your sides or make you cower in fear, no — that clown joke from Watchmen has you staring into the emptiness of space thinking, “well, fuck.” But you need this joke, you do: it expands your simple happy-sad emotional capabilities to cynical existentialism, which is necessary when considering clowns, or whether or not all this clowning means anything at all.
– Julia Sorensen

Star Trek Clown

This spectacularly terrifying clown is featured in one of the worst episodes of one of the worst Star Trek series. Played by Michael McKean (of Better Call Saul and This is Spinal Tap fame) and known only as “The Clown,” this guy is the virtual embodiment of several people’s collective worst fears, tormenting and torturing them for nineteen years and even beheading a few with a guillotine. He resides with his captives in a circus-like environment complete with a few dozen lesser clowns, all wearing creepy grey masks and occasionally imitating The Clown in the fashion of bad backup singers. He adds a simultaneously horrifying and humorous element to yet another perfectly status quo and painfully predictable Star Trek filler episode.
– Riley Samson

Marlin the Clownfish

Clownfish are going extinct because Marlin’s stupid son had to touch the butt and get lost and Pixar had to make a movie about it that we all watched at least 10 times in elementary when the teacher was too lazy to actually teach. But regardless, Marlin was a really good dad, maybe dad goals, I mean he hung out with Ellen Degeneres for basically no reason. Single dads are great and important.
– Sofia Osborne

Mr. Mime 

Number 122 in the Pokedex, the master of pantomime himself, Mr. Mime is the fiercest on the list. Don’t let his ridiculous waving or outrageous faces fool you. No other clown has the ability to poison or use psychic waves against their foes. Watch out or his subtle power may just convince you that there’s more to that fluttering shadow than you want to think. You don’t want to let this clown out of it’s Pokeball.
– Adam Lachacz


The winner… Guy Fieri!

Fieri turned the heat up to 11 today, rightfully earning top spot in our creepy coveted clown competition. He ploughed through this list of clowns with the ease he would gobble up a heaping stack of smoked breakfast sausage, or a plate of deep fried, double baked, extra-cheesy, fully-loaded — sorry, I think I’m going to throw up just thinking about it. This cultural catastrophe has defied the odds — both in this competition, and in heart disease statistics — and for it, we are thankful. Tonight, we toast our footlong Chimichangas, 12 scoop sundaes, and mile-high meatball subs to the “King Clown of Flavourtown,” the one, the only, Guy Fieri.

Sofia Osborne

Sofia is a fourth-year English major with a minor in philosophy. She's been writing for The Gateway since the first day of her first year because she wants to be Rory Gilmore when she grows up. Now, she's the Managing Editor and is in charge of the print magazine.


Tori was the 2017-18 Arts & Culture Editor and 2018-19 Online Editor of this site. They were and still are a huge fan of office comedies, legumes, and critters of all kinds.

Adam Lachacz

Adam Lachacz was the Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway for 2020-21. Previously, he was the 2019-20 News Editor, 2018-19 Staff Reporter, and a senior volunteer contributor from 2016-18. He is a fifth-year student studying history and political science. Adam is addicted to the news, an aspiring sneakerhead, and loves a good cup of black coffee.

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