No joke: The clown community is pretty mad at Stephen King. Now that Pennywise is back to terrify a new generation of youngins, professional clowns are claiming that the iconic horror villain has done damage to clowns’ reputations and cost them work. “It all started with the original It,” WCA president Pam Moody, who performs as Sparky the Firefighter Clown to teach grade-schoolers about fire safety, told The Hollywood Reporter. “That introduced the concept of this character. It’s a science-fiction character. It’s not a clown and has nothing to do with pro clowning.” Moody told THR that clowns are losing work because of the fear of clowns that comes with the resurgence of Pennywise and creepy-clown popularity: “People had school shows and library shows that were canceled,” Moody said. “That’s very unfortunate. The very public we’re trying to deliver positive and important messages to aren’t getting them.” While King has acknowledged the clown community’s critique via Twitter — “The clowns are pissed at me. Sorry, most are great,” he wrote. “BUT … kids have always been scared of clowns. Don’t kill the messengers for the message.” — he seems relatively unbothered.
In the wake of the great clown panic of 2016 — is that what we’re calling it? — the World Clown Association has put together a press kit for bad-clown publicity. In that document, titled “WCA STAND ON SCARY CLOWNS !!”, the group disavows Pennywise: “We understand that some people enjoy the ‘horror genre’ of entertainment, but we find that many people are confronted by images of horror characters (impersonating clowns) and are startled by them … which is obviously the goal of these horror characters. In my opinion, these horror characters are not clowns. Even the character in the movie “IT” should be understood to be a fantasy character — not a true clown.” Got it? That creepy thing under the sewer is just a fantasy.