Print Edition - 2017-09-17 | Life & Style
No laughing matter
- Clowns brace for impact of Stephen King’s It
-, Los Angeles
Sep 17, 2017-
Record-breaking horror film It may already be a hit with audiences, grossing hundreds of millions of pounds at the global box office in its first week, but one group is not celebrating the success of the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel: clowns.For a community already struggling to combat perceptions of clowns as scary rather than fun, the emergence of Pennywise, the movie’s child-killing clown villain, played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard is truly the stuff of nightmares. Even before the film’s release the World Clown Association was warning that the film could cause its members to lose work, even going as far as publishing a press kit to prepare clowns for the damaging effects It might have on their reputations.
Now, only a week into the film’s run at cinemas, some clowns are already complaining that their business has taken a battering, with Darlington entertainer Tommy Bungle telling the Sun that his bookings have already fallen by a third. It’s no laughing matter for a industry that is still trying to recover from the devastating effects of 2016’s global “killer clown” craze, which saw people don clown costumes to scare passers-by.
“There’s definitely a negativity to the industry,” says South Wales-based clown Mr T. Ricks, whose real name is Alan Paget. “Last year, especially, was really bad and I can only see it getting worse.”
Paget says that times are particularly tough for those, like him, who work as child entertainers, with parents nervous about hiring clowns for birthday parties. “I get phone calls and messages on social media asking ‘are you a scary clown’? It’s getting to the stage where it’s ridiculous,” he says. “Sometimes I feel like saying ‘well, you’ll find out in your nightmares.’”
Not all clowns share his sense of doom and gloom. “A load of the folks who say ‘this is terrible for the industry’ have been clowning for about five minutes—they’ve not been through this before,” says Ian Williams, honorary secretary of Clowns International, which claims to be the world’s oldest clown organisation. “It’s not going to kill off clowning. [The TV miniseries adaptation of It, starring Tim Curry] came out 27 years ago. I was clowning then, I’m still clowning now.”
What’s more, Industry worries over the release of It might have been misplaced, according to Leah Curtis of concierge company Poptop, which helps supply performers, including plenty of clowns, for events. During the killer clown craze “bookings went down, says Curtis. “But, since the release of It we have had a booking growth of 25 percent.”
Williams is confident that the clown community can weather the storm brought by the release of It. “Next year we’ve got the 250th anniversary of the circus to celebrate. We just need to look at the good things coming up and focus on them until this film’s out of the way,” he says.
There’s one problem though: this isn’t likely to be Pennywise’s only appearance on the big screen, with a sequel for It already pencilled in for a 2019 release. “The worst thing is that this is just part one of the film,” says Paget. “There’s a second part coming. Come 2019 it’s going to be exactly the same.”
Published: 17-09-2017 09:29