Just clowning around

By Kyle Russo
Published: June 2010

With their painted faces, bizarre costumes, and jovial attitudes, circus clowns make a living by creating hilarious situations and providing entertainment.

They create a lighthearted atmosphere for everyone in the crowd. Clowns fit in perfectly in a circus; however, what happens when clowns are taken of their costumes, face-paint, wigs, and oversized shoes and put in a classroom?

Even though the subject of this article is not circus clowns, but rather class clowns, the results of their actions are essentially the same: they make people laugh, relax, and have a good time.

While class clowns are often portrayed as teachers’ worst nightmares and students’ heroes, a deeper look into the role of the class clown reveals that they hold a complicated and dynamic position in the classroom.

Most class clowns seem to be unaware that they are in fact comical entertainers for their classmates.

When asked if he considered himself a class clown, senior Jesse Zorfas, generally known to be a funny, goofy, and outspoken kid, said, “I don’t consider myself to be a class clown¦I don’t even know what I am.

Junior Jeremy Einhorn responded similarly to this question. “I mean not really. I never really thought about it before, he said.

Einhorn and Zorfas’s responses make it evident that these people fall naturally into their classroom positions.

“I just do what I do, junior Ryan Moray said. They do not try extra hard to make people laugh or to build their reputations as jokers, but rather have unique and loud personalities that allow them to effortlessly elicit laughter from their friends and peers.

The question then becomes whether or not these amusing comedians are beneficial or harmful in the rather stressful setting of the classroom.

Whether or not they realize it, class clowns must maintain a careful balance between creating a fun and relaxed environment in the classroom and upsetting their teachers and peers.

“They can either disrupt class, make people irritated, and interfere with the learning, or they can add a more relaxed attitude to the class, especially if the teacher finds the jokes funny. It depends on how the teacher handles it, junior Lena Warnke said.

A class clown has to be able to wield this double-edged sword with expertise, knowing when and what is appropriate to say during class.
They can provide some much needed comic relief yet they can also be disruptive to the learning process.

“Sometimes they are funny, but when I’m trying to take a test or do serious work and they continue to distract me, I can’t focus or do my best work, junior Rachel Davidson said.

The jokes of class clowns do not only affect their peers, but also affect the class clowns themselves significantly.

Class clowns often develop better personal relationships with their teachers, an important goal of junior year. Teachers often appreciate the laid back vibe that a class clown can create, unless their jokes become more of a distraction and an irritation.

Like any performer, a class clown is only effective when he or she has the support and approval of the audience. Although the responsibility of class entertainer is often unknowingly thrust upon class clowns, they are expected to fulfill their duty or entertaining, which includes knowing when they are crossing the line.

Outspoken, funny kids in class can have both positive and negative effects on the atmosphere of the classroom.

Whether you hate him or love him, school would certainly be different without that kid in your math class shouting out absurd comments.

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