Types Of Clowns


The Whiteface is the most recognizable type of clown.  This clown wears a base of white greasepaint and then accentuates the facial features with color.  Red and black are the most traditional colors for the Whiteface to apply but other colors are also widely used.   A “Traditional” Whiteface clown wears very little accent color…perhaps just a single black eyebrow and red earlobes…while a “Comedy” or “Grotesque” Whiteface wears a broad red or black mouth, bulbous nose, enlarged eyebrows, etc.  The costuming also reflects the style of Whiteface.  The “Traditional” Whiteface wears a well-fit jewel studded suit, stockings, and small shoes.  The “Traditional” Whiteface wears a simple white conical hat and does not wear a wig.  The “Comedy” or “Grotesque” Whiteface may wear a suit that is too large or too small, oversized shoes, garish wigs and hats, etc.

The Whiteface is the oldest style of clown.  The origin of the Whiteface can be traced back to Greek theatre.  The Commedia del Arte character of Pierrot whitened his face with flour and is thought to be one of the first introductions of the Whiteface.  The Whiteface as we know it today can be directly traced to Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) in London, England.  In his honor and memory all clowns are affectionately known as “Joeys”.

In the “hierarchy” of clowns the Whiteface is the traditionally the most intelligent of the clowns and will be in control and in charge when performing with other types of clowns.


wp1372d4a7_05_06The Auguste clown wears a base of pink or flesh-tones makeup.  The eyes and mouth are accented with white.  Traditionally red and black makeup is used by the Auguste to accentuate the cheeks, eyebrows, etc but other colors are also widely used.  Auguste makeup can range from very lightly applied to very bold and exaggerated.  Costuming may be too small or too large, subdued patterns or bright patterns, with a wig or without.  The sky is the limit.

The most common belief about the origin of the Auguste comes from the 1860’s.  American Tom Belling, a horseback rider with Germany’s Circus Renz, had been suspended after a fall.  While backstage at the circus one day Belling put on a suit owned by the show’s owner and began mimicking the rather rotund fellow.  The owner caught Belling doing this and an angry chase began.  Ultimately the chase ended in the circus ring.  With the oversized suit falling off of him, Belling took a tumble in the middle of the ring. Believing this was part of the show, the audience began to yell “Auguste” (“Fool”)….and a new style of clown was created.

In the “hierarchy” of clowns the Auguste is the bumbling, stupid, or inept clown.  The Auguste is the clown who will get hit by the pie thrown by the Whiteface.  The Auguste is the cause of all of the problems the Whiteface encounters.

Character Clown

31b90d66c98The Character clown may wear the makeup of the Whiteface or the Auguste…or a combination of the two.  The main idea of the Character clown is the portrayal of a specific occupation (policeman, doctor, chef, etc), age (baby, little old lady, etc), and such.  The most popular Character clown is the Hobo or Tramp, recognized by the tattered clothing and makeup which represents an unshaven face and sunburned cheeks.  The costume of the Character clown is directly influenced by the type of character being portrayed.  The “hierarchy” of the Character clown will depend on what makeup style is used, etc.