Creepy clowns have been seen in Tacoma, Puyallup and other areas in the region.
The monthslong national obsession started in South Carolina in August, when people in clown masks reportedly tried to lure people into the woods or lingered in weird places.
The trend is concerning many local residents, and a local clown, too.
Jusby the Clown (47-year-old Justin Wright of Olympia) says some clowns use fear as a tool to surprise audiences and create laughter.
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But he says it should be done safely — something the recent pranksters aren’t taking care to do.
He’s even lost a Facebook friend over the matter.
We called Jusby to ask him a series of clown questions related to the phenomenon.
The conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: News Tribune, this is Kenny.
A: Is this about the terrorizing clowns?
Q: It is about the terrorizing clowns.
A: (Clown-level laughter ensues.)
Q: Has your business been affected by these clowns?
A: No. Some years ago, there was a clown shortage in the news. I don’t know if these people went in to fill the gap, but I doubt it.
I was just looking at some footage. These are just guys in rubber masks. These aren’t clowns per se.
Clowns are like people — there are some good ones and some not.
Don’t say you’re afraid of all clowns. That’s prejudice! You’d like me if you got to know me.
In October, I play with the clown fear somewhat. Obviously, in a haunted house or something, that’s why you’re there — to be surprised and scared for a second and then recognize you’re safe a moment later.
A rubber mask doesn’t make it any easier. If you’re close enough to a clown to see their eyes, you can have a relationship.
I personally believe the purpose of clowning is to entertain, to educate and to ease suffering.
Q: What did you think when you first heard about this?
A: I thought,“What is that? Who are these people?” And none of these people have been apprehended, and they have not been able to tell their side of the story.
It’s like a fad, an ice bucket challenge or something. I wouldn’t get off on that. Where’s the thrill in that?
Q: What could they do to be more convincing clowns?
A: (Another clown-caliber cackle.)
They want to be domestic terrorists or something. That’s pushing it the wrong way — they don’t want to be a better clown.
There’s a whole clown continuum from Juggalos to Cirque du Soleil and everything in between, and these are total outliers. They may have turf wars, they have separateness between them, the different groups.
I’m rambling a bit — I did go to the best clown college west of the Mississippi. Of course, I’m referring to The Evergreen State College.
Q: Were you class clown?
A: I wasn’t. I had comedic elements, I had my moments. I took it seriously in real life. It had roots I hadn’t anticipated.
Q: Where does this fad come from?
A: Maybe this is about how, when you scare somebody into a different state, you change their perspective of what reality is. It should be done safely. You come back to the culture you feel safe with and come back stronger for it.
To be better clowns, get rid of the rubber masks, scare people on a different level and then ease them back down.
There are legitimate things to be afraid of — November’s elections for instance.
Q: Which presidential candidate is more of a clown?
A: (More laughter.)
The Donald. He makes easy things look hard and hard things look easy, and that’s what clowns do. He says the surprising things.
Hillary’s just a career politician or whatever. It’s not quite as surprising. The absurdity of Trump makes him a clown.
I hate it when people talk about politicians as clowns! It gives us a bad name. “What do you mean by that? They’re not easing my suffering.”
Q: How long have you been a clown?
A: Depends on how you count — either 1969 or 1996. In 1996, I was a senior at Evergreen when I discovered I was a clown.
I wasn’t prepared for it at the time, so the clown went in the closet for about 10 years until I sought mentorship from others and re-educated myself on other practical matters. I guess that puts me at about a decade.
Q: What’s your favorite part about being a clown as Halloween approaches?
A: It’s a delight once a year: The moment right after someone is afraid and they have a shriek, a laugh and then a great big sigh of relief and move on.