Skip to main content.

Clowns by A.J. Axline
published in Volume 1, Issue 1 on January 15th, 1994

"Let's hear it for the nameless, faceless few!"

No one cheered.

"What is this?" one of them shouted from the back. "What is this supposed to mean, anyway?!"

"Shut up, Bozo!" someone hollered.

"You'll get your turn, you killer. Sit down."

The clown glared at the front of the room briefly, then sat down. He looked furious and scared under his white face makeup.

"So," the instructor continued, "if we take away the poor and the rich, and the destitute and the dishonest and the not-so-nice and all the rest of the people that don't deserve to live, who are we left with?"

"CLOWNS!!!" they screamed.

For you see, the room was filled with clowns.

Tall clowns, fat clowns, starving clowns, white clowns, black clowns. They were all there, sitting in their desks, wondering why they had come, looking for answers that no one had any intention of giving them. They, like the clown that had shouted from the back, were all furious and scared. Some of them had gone beyond normal fear into blank terror. Tears streaked their greasepaint, dripped from their chins in big white drops.

"Clowns," the instructor repeated. He looked like a shark. "Big clowns, little clowns, clowns, clowns, clowns."

He grinned. Some of the clowns shuddered.


His mouth embraced the word like an exotic fruit.

"An elite society of clowns. How could it not work? Think about it, friends and neighbors. You, as the last remaining leaders, movers and shakers, running the globe! Weeding out the weak and crushing them under your floppy shoes! Think of it brothers and sisters! THINK OF IT!!! CLOWN RULE!!! CLOWNS RULING THE WORLD!!!"

They were all weeping now. They couldn't help it. Sobbing clowns moaned and wailed around the lecture theatre. Big polka dot handkerchiefs were pulled from front pockets, some of them several feet long.

The buzzer went off.

"Get out of here," the instructor sneered.

They filed out of the room, shaking and sniffling.

The clowns composed themselves in the hallway, trying not to look bad in front of the other clowns that were scurrying around, squinting at timetables. One of the dismissed clowns looked back at the bulletin board next to the classroom door.


"I hate that class," the clown whispered to his buddy next to him.

"What can you do? It's compulsory, Bozo." his friend replied.

Silently they shouldered their Clown University packs, and went to their next class. Slowly but steadily, a few of the clowns would drop out during the year, unable to take the swelling inside their brains. There would always be eager clowns waiting around the country, however; waiting in line, desperate to take the place of their fallen comrades.

In the end, there were always more clowns.

go to this issue