No Laughing Matter
 Choo Li-Hsian | 13 Oct 2017 00:30
In full clown get-up

Do you have a fear of clowns?  You are not alone. Many have mixed feelings towards clowns even though they are meant to be figures of fun that promote laughter and provide comic relief, often as children’s entertainment.

Coulrophobia, a fear of clowns, is not an officially recognised phobia but has inspired its own diagnosis, showing us how common this fear is.

Clown faces exaggerate human features in elaborate ways with their huge painted-on smiles, loud colours and big, made-up eyes. Clowns are also unpredictable, and unpredictability causes knee-jerk distrust and apprehension in people.

Children, especially the very young, who are still figuring out the world and lack the experience to explain away what they see, may be particularly affected. It can also be caused by phobias learned from parents, or negative childhood incidences such as being forced by parents to interact with clowns before they are ready.

Elroy Ng Yoong Heng, 34, a professional clown and balloon artist, helps us put things into perspective. Ng believes that the negativity stems from a lack of exposure – children today do not have the fun, friendly experiences we used to have with circus clowns.

He likens good clowns to actors. “Like a mirror to society, they help us reflect on the funny side of life. They interact well with audiences, draw out their emotions and project these back, cheering people up in the process.”

Ng, a part-time clown for the past six years, finally took the plunge into full-time this year. His company, Supa Dupa Circus (, supplies private and corporate events with talent, carnival equipment and decorations.