The number one movie at the box office again this weekend was the thriller *It*, about the murderous, diabolical clown Pennywise.
But not all clowns are scary.
Professional clown Benjamin Kirsch - a graduate of clown college - says the social function of a clown is to pull mockery away from vulnerable people...red headed step children...drunks..people with big feet...and let people laugh at the clown..instead...
"People that have weird hair, people that wear weird clothing; clowns are meant to almost top it so they can be themselves. They don't need to worry about people insulting them or judging them or picking on them."
Kirsch says clown face-paint evolved as something seen from a distance. But up close, you're going to see something that looks much different...
"If you were to meet a person that has a smile that goes from ear to ear, you'd be like, 'Oh my gosh, that is the creepiest, weirdest-looking human being ever.'"
... And that closer proximity to clowns may be why we interpret them as more scary than funny today.