The reputation of the clown is officially safe.

Yes, folks, peel away the greasepaint and you’ll be staring into pitiful depths of a person who is at once depressed, lost, desperate and aggressive whilst suppressing homosexuality, failure and alcoholism. As per.

The clowns in question were the professional personas of four men, Tommy Tickle, Pirate wotnot, Mr Pumpkin and Velco Violence, or something – the latter retired on account of smacking a kid in the face after he was being… well… a kid – and now resigned to dreadful nursing home gigs in front of splay-legged old dears who still think that nice Mr. Chamberlain is Prime Minister.

His house was a shrine to vaudeville, the dead dreams of the magician whose talents weren’t called for in 21st century England. An old hand, his dying stock of trade lay scattered about him like the twilight of the piss-soaked care home which had become his stage. It was desperate stuff.

Pirate wotnot was a right mess, a ball of confused loneliness who was a blatant disappointment to his aged mother. We were privy to her watching him in action, wearing a face like a butcher’s dustbin – his act was diabolical. Pirate Thingy couldn’t even be pissed to don make up and stood there gurning fatuously and flailing his limbs as if being gassed. The children were indifferent to him; he’d the personality of faded indifferent memory. It was all in the eyes, vast pools of angst and fear that will haunt me to the grave. I reckon he collects kitten-heads.

Mr. Pumpkin was a latent homosexual. He seemed like a nice chap, he spoke to his audience as if he was one of them, his concertina-mouth hidden from view by a headset featuring a microphone the size of a football, he lisped and skipped though his set. He was saved somewhat by the fact the children seemed to genuinely enjoy his act, though to watch it as an adult inspired spine-snapping cringing. Mr. Pumpkin had himself a family which confused me; he referred to his wife of 25 years as Mrs. Pumpkin (I wasn’t expecting him to be married, really) and his kids as Pumpkin One, Two and Three (kids too, blimey) but held a rather, well, gay, infatuation with his ailing mother over and above anything. He missed her cuddles when he was feeling sad. It was awful to watch, a grown man who’d never experienced what it was like to be one. Did I mention he had a family?


Tommy Tickle was genuinely funny. A cross between Keith Allen and Brian Glover, he was possibly the shittest kids’ clown ever to have donned a red nose. He terrified the kids, in some cases reducing them to tears, drunk himself to oblivion every night and punctuated his parlance with curses as blue as the deep proverbial sea.

He too was married with kids, but Tommy Tickle had family problems in the form of a wayward 13 year old daughter who lived with Tommy’s former partner. She had a twinkle in her heavily eyelined eye, was bright and affable but was clearing suffering her teenage years without her dad of whom she was very fond.

We see Tommy sloping about town in his clown-clobber, screaming abuse at traffic from his car with a thunderous roar, leaning outside pubs, inhaling two pints simultaneously, one cider, one lager and occasionally making balloon animals to bewildered children. Of all the acts his was the only one that said ‘clown’ to me and he epitomised the clichés therein but he had genuine comedic talent, just not as a kids’ clown.

This may have had something to do with the way he spoke to them, he didn’t talk down to kids, he didn’t patronise them which is perfectly acceptable when one is being an adult, but dressed as a clown and shouting aggressively with a voice that Lemmy would’ve found hard to out-rasp he became a perfect nightmare, the sort of clowns that visit you in dreams with a flick-knife and an erection.

We left Tommy in a pub with his recently expelled-from-school daughter; speed-drinking beer, discussing her future. They spoke to each other with affection, he taking on the role of ‘dad’ amid large gulps of ale. After he while he suggested clowning as a career and handed her a balloon which she took with a smile.

‘Blow into it with the air from your cheeks, not your lungs’, he advised fondly, she seemed pleased with this prospect, but really she was just happy to be with her dad.

I wish them all the best.

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21 Responses to “Clowns”

  1. Swineshead Says:

    I’ve got this to watch tonight. I hate clowns. It will be a punishing watch.

  2. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I don’t mind clowns. Tommy sounds a laugh. To me, that is. I can’t speak for his target audience – not since the court order.

  3. Clair Says:

    Thank god for the iPlayer. Why on earth would anyone want to BE a bloody clown in the first place, other than to disguise the fact that your feet really ARE three feet long?

  4. Paul Groves Says:

    Clowns was an unexpected treat and you’re spot on, they did seem to conform to various stereotypes.
    I couldn’t agree more, Tommy was head and shoulders above the rest and despite being equally damaged he seemed to be the most sorted. He had all the best lines too, including what could be my quote of the week – although I’m holding fire in case one of Sir Alan’s shower of stumbling sociopaths comes up with something better tomorrow night.

  5. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    And I don’t suppose you fancy revealing what this potential quote of the week is, do you, Paul? I didn’t watch Clowns (too busy giving the missus a lesson in close-quarter bedroom drill, y’r honour) and now want to know. If you don’t tell me, I’ll kill you.

  6. Swineshead Says:

    Me too – I want to know. I want to. I.

  7. extremelisteningmode Says:

    Clowns are scary. I don’t mind admitting I suspect that they contribute 70% of Lidl’s own brand Whisky sales.

  8. Paul Groves Says:

    Oh, OK, I didn’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it…not that I care nor nothing.

    It was: “I’m Tommy Tickle. I bought the round off Timmy Tickle, who went to Brighton to become Silly Billy Bluehat.”

    You just don’t hear enough explanations like that on the TV these days.

  9. Mr Chipz Says:

    There used to be a couple of kids at the school what I teach in, their dad was a clown. He was totally illiterate. Couldn’t read a damn thing. The older child (a boy) was very anxious and prone to explosive violence. The little girl (about seven years old) would occasionally cry for no reason and piss herself a lot. I wasn’t privy to the details of the case but the social services were deeply involved. They used to go on holiday to Cowboy and Western re-enactments. The most fucked up thing (considering her dad was a fucking clown) was that the little girl would scream, cry and piss if anyone appeared in a costume of any kind.
    I think there might have been something wrong with the family.

  10. Mr Chipz Says:

    Oh, and the girl used to put things in her mouth. Pencils, rubbish, bits of wire. In fact, the more I think about it…I think she might have had some sort of traumatic experience. Hm.

  11. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    Chipz – I reckon you’ve pinpointed what’s wrong there. You fucking shyster.

    Paul – That’s a good quote.

    *packs away knives*

  12. Mr Chipz Says:

    Thank you Napoleon. But please waste no more time on the internet today, I need to you draw more pictures so you can get paid and in return, pay your taxes. I’ve got over a week and half holiday stretching ahead of me and I need my bank balance filled sharpish as I’m going to the pub nearly every day.

  13. Clarys Says:

    My favourite bit in Tommy Tickle’s routine.

    *shouts at kids*

    “WHO’S THIS?!”

    *parents look at each other, concerned*


    Fucking priceless.

  14. Swineshead Says:

    Christ – I must watch this tonight. It’ll beat last night’s champion’s league injustice, that’s fer sure.

    EE ba gum trebor – it’s funny cos it’s true.

  15. Clarry Says:

    I find clowns terrifying, but find myself strangely drawn to this programme. The snippets you describe are intriguing. I am gutted that I missed it.

    Soz SH – How was that an injustice? Huzzah for LFC!

  16. Swineshead Says:

    Penalty appeals that go unheeded in the first leg but heeded incorrectly in the second leg.

    But then, you’re a girl, so I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

  17. Clarry Says:

    Shut it Goon-er

  18. Clarry Says:

    Also your ‘tucking in’ clearly didn’t work, whereas my hovering by the kitchen door clearly triumphed….

  19. Swineshead Says:

    I’m not in the state of mind to talk about it with any humour, to be honest…

  20. Clarry Says:

    Never mind, there’s always next year….

  21. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    “Recent Comments:
    Clarry on Clowns”

    ‘You’ve got very big feet’
    ‘Ooh matron!’

    *applauds self smugly and camply*

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