As professional clowns, we sometimes see people who have a fear of us. Often this fear is exaggerated. I've seen adults run from the room in a panic only because a clown has been in their presence. That sounds crazy! It is more insane when you see it happen. As irrational as that fear is, it's essential to understand where it comes from. Many people have a genuine concern that a clown is going to do something to them, Throw a pie in their face, spray water on them from the clown lapel. These are overused cliches.
Some people use the presence of a clown as a reason for their emotional outburst. This is where we see the fear exaggerated. Sometimes these extreme feelings swing to hatred of a clown. Others will avert their eyes as if merely seeing the clown will cause them harm. These reactions are the opposite of what we clowns want.
For others, the site of a clown is joyous and happy.
Let them go...
In my experience, I've learned that the best way to handle the fear is to not participate in the emotional swing of these feelings. It's best to resist the urge to deal with this problem by trying to fix the fear. If you are a clown and someone doesn't want to be in the room with you so much that they run away, ...Let them go. Running after them will not make the situation better.
Another reaction I've seen some clowns try is to "talk it out." This involves explaining. It's usually some form of a conversation where the clown tries to show that they are not scary. The clown talks about her/his professional training or some rational explanation as to why the person should not be afraid. This is a well-intended, but faulty approach in my opinion. It's understandable that we don't want people to be afraid of us but talking about it doesn't serve our purpose.
"I work hard at this..."
Being a professional clown takes work, dedication, and commitment. Many of us have trained for years as an acrobat/improviser/ juggler/ musician, physical theater artist, or as a magician. We take pride in our work. We have honed these skills into an art form. We are eager to share the art of clowning.
However, I believe it's crucial to keep in mind that the people who have a fear of clowns haven't put much serious thought into this issue. They are reflexively expressing a feeling. This reflexive expression could just as easily be about, NASCAR, or Taylor Swift. Imagine if someone came up to you and insisted that you listen to their favorite Tay Tay song, or they expected you to listen to them talk about their favorite stock car driver. Taylor Swift and NASCAR are very popular among those people who know and like them. That said, many people have little or no interest in either of them.
I've seen instances where a clown has taken his or her time to explain why one should not be afraid of clowns patiently. The explanation includes details about clown training and includes reasons why they should not be frightened of clowns.
As I've said, most people don't care about that. They are not expressing a rational thought. They are reflexively responding. Someone may see some positive results after explaining to a fearful person. This person may be persuaded not to be afraid. Again it's not crucial for that person to understand this fear. After all the explaining they may agree with you. However, the next time they see a clown, they are not likely to care about the well thought out rationale you gave them. They are more likely to fall back on to the reflexive reaction they have always had.
All this is to say that the best approach in dealing with the clown fear is to not focus on their fear. It is best to have another method.
I will share details about this in my next clown fear post.