Fearsome Friday – Coulrophobia

Bozo the Clown

Clarabell the Clown


Ronald McDonald

“Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.” – John Steinbeck

“A clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast.” – Groucho Marx

“It is meat and drink to me to see a clown.” – William Shakespeare

Clowns – Do you love them…

or hate them?


The Joker


Coulrophobia [kool-ruh-foh-bee-uh] is the extreme fear of clowns. This is a very common phobia. This fear usually starts in childhood. It often has to do with the masking of the facial features and can be related to fear of other “friendly” characters such as Santa or the Easter Bunny.

How does this relate to writing?

Your protagonist could have coulrophobia like Xander did in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or you antagonist could be as creepy as Pennywise.










Do you love or hate clowns? What is the most notable clown in your opinion?


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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14 Responses to Fearsome Friday – Coulrophobia

  1. My daughter used to be so afraid of clowns. We used to go to a restaurant where they had one of the wait staff dress up as a clown on weekends. She liked the food (reason why we went) but would dive under the table if the clown came over.

    I haven’t asked her about clowns in years. Should check it out and see if she’ll still do it at 27!! 😉

  2. Nope! Nope! Nope! I do not like clowns. They are just creepy. I don’t care how innocent and happy they are. They’re freakin creepy. *shudder* 😀

  3. I had a clown doll that haunted my childhood. (Who didn’t, right?) They creep me out. I think it’s because, as you say, it’s too easy to hide behind the mask.
    I wonder where the whole idea of clowns came from? Clearly they’ve been around (tormenting people like me) for centuries, if Shakespeare spoke of them.
    Good post, Billie Jo. (Thanks for the nightmares I’ll have tonight! LOL!)

    • I had one of those Jack in a Box clowns that popped up. I thought it looked a bit creepy but thankfully not enough to terrify me forever.

      Interesting question, I know clowns must be derived from things like court jesters but where did those originate?

      Sorry about the bad dreams! lol

  4. Selena says:

    Hands down, it’s Pennywise. Creepiest clown ever and I do love creepy!

  5. As to the history of the clown: http://www.allaboutclowns.com/history.html

    I would think that Commedie dell a’rte would be one place that the painting of the face came from, since their use of masks for the characters. Hiding the face (protecting the actor) goes way back.

  6. I like clowns, but I also love thrillers, mysteries and suspense. There’s something extra creepy about music boxes, clowns and other supposed-to-be innocent that go bad. The clown in IT is one of the best (aka worst ;)) clowns… A friend of mine is Ronald McDonald professionally. There’s a whole world of them!

    Thanks for the interesting post! I’ve blogged on phobias, too…Terrific topic. 🙂

    • Phobias are a fabulous blog topic because there are just so many of them out there and each one is really interesting.

      I took clowning as my physical education elective at University. It was fun but we never had to perform in public so thankfully I never scared any small children with it. I had a friend that was Ronald McDonald too, he used to have to go to the parties at the local McDonalds restaurants but also did charity events for Ronald McDonald House, he loved it!

  7. Kaitee says:

    I very stupidly watched IT when I was six years old. I was told to go to bed and that the movie was for ‘adults only’ so very much wanting to be a big person I snuck into the loungeroom and hid behind my grandfather’s chair and used the curtains to cover me. Have never really been fond of them since!

    • There was a movie that I snuck down and watched as a kid that had a scene where a little girl was being chased through the woods which later became part of a recurring nightmare. I certainly learned not to watch those grownup films. Great to hear from you again Kaitee. Hope you are well!

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