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Clown College

It use to be that every person who dreamed of becoming a clown also dreamed of attending the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College. For 30 years Clown College taught the basics -- how to apply your clown makeup, how to take a pie thrown at your big clown nose, and to fall down without hurting yourself.


Clown College was the brainchild of  Irvin Feld. In 1968, the clown profession seemed to be dwindling and -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus had only a dozen clowns, most of them getting older by the day.  Irvin Feld wanted to make sure there were clowns well into the future. 


So the college directors held auditions at colleges and theatres around the country. Hundreds of would-be clowns showed their stuff .


The competition was intense. Only 30 new clowns were accepted into each year's class.


There, they donned large shoes and baggy pants to learn about makeup, juggling and the fine art of falling down. They took classes in stilt-walking, gymnastics, juggling,  and mime.


The classes were free and the best of the graduates took their large clown shoes  on the road with the Greatest Show on Earth.


But the Clown College became a victim of its own success.  In 1998, there were about over a thousand  trained clowns and there was  little danger of the profession dying out.  So Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus decided to stop offering eight-week introductory classes in funny stuff in Sarasota, Florida.


But what's an aspiring clown going to do today ?


Well some of the graduates of Clown College have taken on the task of teaching the new generation of clowns.


Check out the hyperlink of There we have listed the active Clown Schools that are teaching the newest generation of clowns. 


Update: Ringing has preserved the name and some of the intent of Clown College through various projects since shuttering the Sarasota course. They have taken a new directions with the clowning in the show and find that the "Clown College on the Road" (the training you get in your first few years there) suffices for their current needs.


However, they do need to get more people applying for the positions they have for clowns, thus the auditions that are being announced at various locations. It really is just a more formalization of the process they have had for the last several years for getting on the road as a clown.


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