'˜We don't scare people '“ we make them laugh' say clowns

Blackpool's children's entertainers have condemned the scourge of creepy clowns terrifying strangers on the streets.

Monday, 17th October 2016, 9:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 8:49 pm
Ron and Lilian Curtis as Grandaddy and Nanny Trumbell

The resort’s own red-nosed jesters have vowed to carry on clowning as the ‘killer clown’ craze fails to dampen their spirits.

Professional clown Ron Curtis, 70, better known as bumbling magician Grandaddy Trumbell, has performed at children’s parties alongside his wife Lilian, 69, for five years.

He said: “If you dress up as a nurse does that make you a nurse? If you dress up as a fireman does that make you a fireman? Of course not, and it’s the same with clowning. These silly people running about dressed as clowns, scaring people, are not real clowns.

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Grandaddy Trumbell amazes two young children at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. Picture by Jeannie Schofield

“That’s not what we do. We don’t scare people. We make people smile and laugh.”

Children’s charity Childline confirmed this week that it had received 120 phonecalls children who had been scared by people dressed up in the scary ‘killer clown’ costumes.

Just last week, Blackburn man Simon Chinery, 28, made national news after he claimed to have been viciously stabbed in the hand by a knife-wielding clown.

It later emerged that he had invented the story, and he was issued with a fixed penalty notice for wasting police time.

Grandaddy Trumbell amazes two young children at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. Picture by Jeannie Schofield

Grandad-of-12 Ron, who lives on Pembroke Avenue, said the trend, which comes from America, is ruining the reputation of traditional clowning.

He said: “It doesn’t do real clowns any favours and as a result it’s become quite fashionable for people to say they are scared of clowns, and as soon as they see us they’ll scream and run away giggling.

“We always get someone who squeals and runs away - but after a few minutes they’ll be back and chatting away with us.

“I’ve only ever met one person who was genuinely terrified of clowns.”

Fellow Blackpool-based entertainer ‘Dozy’ Dave Illidge, 50, said: “I can see why people started doing it just for a laugh, but it’s all gotten a bit too much. If it was Halloween night it would be fair play, but as it’s not and it’s just being done to frighten people it’s out of order.”

But despite the creepy clowns prowling the streets of Britain, ‘Grandaddy and Nanny Trumbell’ and their fellow stage stars say work is not in short supply.

CJ Taz, of CJ Taz Entertainments in Bispham, said: “It hasn’t affected business at all. Some of our acts do dress up, whether it’s in harlequin pants and a jacket or the full gear – but we’ve not had anyone phone up to say they definitely do not want a clown.

“I think it’s disgusting what is going on and I think it’s got very much out of hand – but life goes on and people will forget about it.”

Ron said: “These trends come in and out. About two years ago there was the Northampton clown who would wait at bus stops with a bunch of balloons and scare people. The police discovered who it was and that was the end of him – but it did generate copycats across the country. But it didn’t quite take off as much as it has this time.

“Facebook is a terrible place for generating gossip. You’ve got people saying that clowns have threatened schools and that they had to be closed, or that they’ve been attacked by a clown brandishing a knife.

“But still we are very busy. We’ve got birthday parties booked until November next year.”

Dave said: “It helps that our target audiences are small children, and the ones who have caught onto the craze tend to be older teenagers.

“When I first started entertaining 20 years ago there was no social media. Now, in spite of these rumours, it’s easier to get your business out there where everyone can see it. In my opinion the pros outweigh the cons.”