Jews ranging from Seth Rogen to The Marx Brothers are known for their impeccable comedic timing and their ironic/humorous musing on life. Yet a comedic field that our gifted brethren are not given enough credit for are their roles as clowns.
Like jesters of the Middle Ages, Jewish tradition had something called a ‘badchen’, a religious mensch who performed at wedding ceremonies. These days they come out during the holiday of Purim (which is this weekend!), a holiday that is a little bit of Christmas, mixed with a little of Halloween, with just a dash of Mardi Gras. Without Lent. A holiday the goyim wish they had.
Now some will argue like Homer Simpson did in a previous post of mine that possessing innate abilities for slap-stick comedy counts. And they would have a valid point. When Moe tells Larry and Curly to ‘quit clownin’ around’, you can bet that those ass-clowns wont be listening. And who can forget Harpo Marx, the lovable, lusty, mute who communicated through embellished facial expressions and physical movements. Like all clowns he had a serious side, his love of the harp (Harp-o, get it?). And his hair? Definitely clownish.
My two favorite childhood clowns, one real and one fictional, were Krusty the Clown and Bozo the Clown. Notice how the end of their names have ‘the clown’, so that they wont be mistaken for a pedophile or a mentally unstable vagabond!
Krusty, (also known as Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski), is a frequent character on The Simpsons. He is essentially every Jewish hipster at heart. His father wants him to work in a traditional Jewish line of work, in this case, to become an Orthodox Rabbi. Krusty, however, enjoys the artsy life, and aspires to be a clown. Krusty is ostracized from his religion, and only after much debate are they reunited, as Krusty’s father accepts his bohemian (and expensive) lifestyle of the secular world. Krusty, however, wears extra large pants to look comical, unlike the skinny-jeans of our generation.
While the Bozo that my generation grew up loving wasn’t Jewish, the original TV Bozo was. Frank Avruch came to be known as the frazzle red-haired, pastey-white, Killer Klowns-esque freak of the 1960s we call Bozo. He helped launch Bozo the Clown into the television phenomena we fondly remember about him today.
Just check this video. It may bring back wonderful Saturday morning memories, or most likely will bring back your childhood psychosis.