The Circus Big Top TentCircus 
And The Clown
by Noggin Bodd


History and Introduction to Circus and the Clown by Noggin Bodd

Noggin Bodd, Jester, Puppeteer, Part time Magician and Juggler.P. T. Barnum, the American Circus promoter, once said, when remarking on the importance of the clown,
"Clowns are pegs used to hang circuses on."

The American Circus Clown provided comic relief between acts and filled in when staging was being changed. His most important function was to relieve tension between the serious and often times, dangerous acts of Lion Tamers, equestrians and trapeze artists. These clowns were talking and singing comedians, who most often did pantomime in the center ring and whose primary function  was to punctuate the end or beginning of other performers acts.

Dan Rice, one of the first famous clowns in the United States, was popular during the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was one of his greatest fans. In fact, it was widely believed that Rice's face and his characteristic costume of striped pants, long beard, and stove pipe hat, inspired the early drawings of Uncle Sam.

Circuses were small then and clowns were singers and joke tellers. As Circuses grew and audiences got bigger, performers could no longer be heard. A new kind of clowning, called Pantomime, developed and clowns began walking among the crowds, repeating their act for small groups as they mingled. It became more difficult for clowns to become famous under these circumstances.


Some famous Performer riding circus elephantCircus Acts

Felix Adler, was billed as the 'King of the Clowns'. He used trained animals in his act.
Lou Jacobs drove a tiny automobile no bigger than a baby buggy. Ernie Wiswell and Buck Baker drove cars which seemed to drive themselves. Large modern circuses, usually include both, the
Clown Band, the Clown Wedding and the Fire Department in their repertoire.

In European circuses, European clowns of merit include Toto (Armando Novello), Marceline, Grock, Coco (Raoul Jouin), members of the Fratellini family, and Oleg Popov.


Jesters

  Now, let's talk Noggin Bodd clown and jesterJesters, the original clowns, if you ask me! I don't care what historians say, after all I was there, wasn't I? I ought to know a little something about history. We Court Jesters, were often referred to as buffoons, zanies, fools and pantaloons. We entertained the Royals, like The King and Queen, or like say the Lords of the Manor at lesser notables courts  in the surrounding countryside.

The European forerunners of our present day clowns were known by such names as fools, buffoons, zanies, pantaloons, and Merry-Andrews. Perhaps the first of these comic characters appeared in the theaters of Greece and Rome more than two thousand years ago. A favorite of kings and queens in the Middle Ages was the court jester, dressed in motley and wearing a foolscap with bells.

Beginning in the sixteenth century, several immortal clown characters were developed for plays and pantomime. These included Pierrot and Harlequin (see Theater). Soon after circuses were established in Europe and North America in the late 1700s, clowns were hired to amuse the audiences. Two clowns, Porter and Burt, performed in London, England, in the first modern circus. The first circus in the United States featured an English clown, Thomas Sully.

I was a Court Jester in King Grit N' Grin's Court in 'The Land of As Is'. You may be certain, I am no longer his fool, but for a time, a very short time, I did try to make him laugh. However, as his name implies, he is a very grim man and in my opinion, has no sense of humor. I just barely escaped a horrible end at his hands. Ugh, but, we'll have to talk about that later, why thinking of it even now, gives me the chills. Oh! gotta fly, Nickleby is calling for me, we have to get going on our next stop in
 'The Land of As Is'.


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