The return of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to New York on Thursday coincides with decreasing membership of the United States’ largest clown organisations attributed to declining interest, old age, and higher standards for clowns.
Glen Kohlberger, International President of Clowns of America told the NY Daily News: “What’s happening is attrition. The older clowns are passing away.”
Although Kohlberger didn’t release specific numbers, membership of the World Clown Association has dropped by around a thousand over the last decade - and many of those left are over the age of 40, according to Association President Deanna Hartmier. She added: “The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning.
“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore. It’s then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”
Although performing at a birthday party can earn clowns up to $300 (approx. £180) Cyrus Zavieh, president of the New York Clown Alley, feels that young people are turning their attention to other careers.
“They’re thinking about everything other than clowning”, Zavieh said, adding “American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether.”