Monday, 30 November -0001

Radio Review: 21 October

Don't send in the clowns...especially if they're brandishing chainsaws

Written by Louis Barfe

Since the referendum, I’ve given phone-ins an even wider berth than I usually do. However, a chum told me in no uncertain terms that I should listen to 5 Live Daily’s (R5L, weekdays, 10am-1pm) coverage of the ‘killer clown’ business last week. Louis-Barfe-colour-176

The issue is consent. By going to a circus, you consent to being amused or scared by a clown. When one jumps out at you in the street, it’s an assault. It’s serious and can be scary, especially for children, but there is a lighter side.

This was clearest when Adrian Chiles was speaking to Bibbledy Bob, the clown spokesman. Chiles was clearly amused by the chap’s name, but the concept of a clown spokesman is amusing in itself. How do you get the gig? Are there factions? Is there a clown’s union? Is it a closed shop until the doors fall off?

‘These are not real clowns,’ Mr Bob (or is it Mr Bibbledy?) informed us. ‘If I wear a doctor’s coat, it doesn’t make me a doctor.’ We should call these people ‘morons not clowns’, and he added that a clown running around with a chainsaw would be barred from any clown courses. There was also Professor Mark Griffiths, a psychologist who had made a study of attitudes to clowns. Griffiths noted that actual coulrophobia (fear of clowns) is fairly rare, and that a tiny proportion of people are coulrophiles, even to the point of sexual arousal. Most people, however, are ‘fairly neutral’ on the matter.

When he’d said his piece, Chiles seemed momentarily dumbfounded before continuing, although that could have been a pause for comic effect. Chiles, with his wry, jaded tone, trod a steady line between taking a frightening experience seriously, but still mining the seam of humour in this ludicrous phenomenon.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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