I was perusing the Internet this morning and discovered that there's a shortage of clowns in the United States these days. I actually gleefully sighed when I read it, not because I want to see clowns out of work, but because clowns are terrifying demon creatures. 

I don't know where my clown fear began. I'm going to go ahead and blame it on the fact that I had a babysitter who let me watch Stephen King's "It" when I was probably a little too young for it. Whatever the reason, I don't like clowns. At all. Seeing them fills me with trepidation and anxiety and I can't possibly get away from them fast enough. I once had a cab driver tell me all about how his day job is actually being a clown at kids' birthday parties, and I wanted to jump out of the moving vehicle. Clowns are funny. Clowns are horrifying.

Enough about my fear, though. Why are there fewer clowns these days? Is clowning a dying medium. Are less people enrolling in clown college?

Well, according to CBS News, there are a combination of issues. Stephen King’s “It” didn't help (see my story above), and serial killer John Wayne Gacy tarnished the good clown name when he performed as Pogo the clown. As it turns out, clowns don't get paid very well, either. Top performers at Cirque du Soleil can earn as much as $200,000, but most clowns in as little as $15 an hour at kids' birthday parties. The low pay and stigma associated with being a clown probably doesn't appeal to a lot of 20-somethings who are also working to pay off their student loans.

So, most of the clowning population (most of whom belong to The World Clown Association) are over 40 and many older, more experienced clowns are passing away.

While it's sad that clowning has taken this turn for those who enjoy it, I can't say that I'm surprised. Clowns these days aren't what we typically think of - there's no fuzzy red hair or gregarious outfits. There's housecoats and slippers and gray wigs. The only thing left from the clowns of yesteryear are the red noses and facepaint.

Clowns will always be around - you can't have a circus without them. But, don't expect to see many of them at kids' parties in the future.

[CBS News]