Clowns

In an era where problems abound – issues like the threat of a nuclear Iran, runaway federal spending, and an overreaching executive branch – it’s important to focus on the most urgent crises facing this country: a potential nationwide clown shortage! Fortunately, the New York Daily News is on top of it for all of us in this exclusive report:

As the “Greatest Show on Earth” returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.

Membership at the country’s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.

“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”

Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.

Of course the clowning industry (and I can’t believe I just used that phrase) knows the solution to their problem – getting more kids and teens to consider clowning as a career.

“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” said Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier, who said most of her members are over 40.

Kohlberger said that it’s difficult getting younger people who develop an early interest in the many facets of clowning to stick with it on the professional level.

“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he said. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”

Cyrus Zavieh, the president of New York Clown Alley, a group that boasts 45 members across the New York area, said clowns can pull in up to $300 for a birthday party — but that’s hardly a financial incentive for many young people.

“American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether,” said Zavieh, 44, who has worked under the moniker Cido for nearly two decades.

“They’re thinking about everything other than clowning.”

It’s up to this generation of parents to reverse this alarming trend. Instead of encouraging your sons and daughters to become doctors or lawyers or grooming them to carry on the family business, why not gently nudge them toward the noble art of clowning? We know from the clowning associations that it’s a challenging, multi-faceted, and rewarding career. Think about the joy you’d have as a parent watching your child entertaining thousands at The Greatest Show on Earth! Or imagine your pride as the clown you raised makes a little one scream and cower in fear.

None of us want to have to say one day in the future, “Remember clowns?” Don’t let these delightful entertainers become extinct. Don’t let clowning go the way of the Victrola or the black and white console television. Now is the time to ensure the future of clowning for future generations. For the children.

Unless clowns creep you or your kids out. In that case, never mind.