Think about the last time you saw a clown. Was it dead? Jerking its rigor mortised limbs in an eerie approximation of gaiety? Did a child toddle up to the clown and tug the hem of its grubby, moth-eaten sleeve to request a balloon crown, and did the clown's arm detach itself completely from its socket with a horrible crunch and did the dead, heavy weight of the arm—and the angle of the yank and the velocity at which it was traveling—all align so that when the limb fell down to dusty earth, it took the child with it? And were you not able to get a refund because company policy states that there are no refunds?

Most probably.

America's clowns are dying.

The New York Daily News reports that membership in clown trade associations is down across the United States. (The Indiana-based World Clown Association has lost about 1,000 members since 2004, bringing its membership count to 2,500.) According to industry insiders, the problem is twofold, like a very simplistic piece of clown origami: old clowns are passing away, and new ones simply do not exist.

That's because, while America's kids love twerking Mollies and rainbow party blowjobs (no condoms unless flavored), one thing they absolutely do not love is looking ridiculous, unless it is via the wearing of seasonally inappropriate slouchy knit caps in summertime.

According to Cyrus Zavich, the president of New York Clown Alley ("A group of about 35 of the most professional clowns in New York," per his website), the younger generation's dreams are the president of a professional clown organization's nightmare. Today's students want to be anesthesiologists and plant psychiatrists CEO's of literally any kind of business—as long as it's not of the monkeying variety.

"American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether. They're thinking about everything other than clowning."

Glen Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International (so many organizations and yet so few clowns!), mourns that promising young jesters are turning their backs on their talents in order to focus on tasks like homework and not being clowns. As a result, many performers are not born until their civilian counterparts hit middle age, at which point they spring into existence like half-formed depressing midlife crisis superheroes.

"What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn't cool anymore. Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s."

A nation of buffoons and not a clown in sight.

[Image by Jim Cooke]