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PBS Explores the Origin of Killer Clowns

PBS has just premiered a new digital series, “Origin of Everything”, hosted by Yale Doctoral Candidate, Danielle Bainbridge. The new weekly series will be the studios’ first show launched on dual platforms, with episodes uploaded each week to YouTube and Facebook simultaneously.

This week’s episode dives into clowns, focusing on both the history of the jesters themselves and, more specifically, how they went from being ubiquitously loved pranksters to the creepy, menacing variety found in films like Stephen King’s It.

When did clown get so terrifying?!?

Well, sure the answer is partly from 1980s horror movies like IT and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but the reality is much deeper than that. From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to 19th Century England, clowns have always been around to bring a little chaos. And the truth is, up until the late 1800s they were NEVER for kids. So while Pennywise might be back in the terrifying new IT remake, the truth is terrifying killer clowns are nothing new. Which frankly is even scarier.



  • Graham

    Cool episode. I’ll be subscribing to that series for sure. I appreciate how they pointed out that clowns as being “for kids” is a relatively recent development in their history, and that horror movies haven’t necessarily “made them” scary. As a concept, clowns can be for kids, and clowns can also be scary. Lots of things are.

  • Geno1987

    I think its been said enough at this point for everyone to know evil clown craze came from Gacy.

  • HeteroFriendly

    I’d like to hope that this persons yale doctorate is in something worth that much money and alleged prestige more then an expertise on killer clown movies.

    That just drives up the cost of an education for a bill sent to the taxpayer through student loans for a “doctorate” in pop culture.

    False intellectualism is an attitude of arrogance and offends me.

  • Clowns turn me on… :/

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