USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘clown’
Narrative

Creepy Clown Story

Informant is USC sophomore born and raised in Amherst, NY.

He tells me the story of a “deranged clown” he and his friends came across in the summer of 2016.

He tells me:

“Yeah, we were walking in the forest by my house. I was going to shoot some pictures and my two friends were with me. It was like noon, a perfectly normal day.

So I was going to take some portraits and then we were going to go see a movie. It was so normal, but as we’re walking down the path in the forest— it’s behind the school, we went all the time so this was no different— I saw this color out of the corner of my eye.

And this was happening right around the time when all those clowns were showing up in videos. So my first thought was “oh god, a clown.” And so I turned and there he— it— was, a clown standing in the forest. It looked like he was holding a knife, I saw a glisten which could have been a knife, but also maybe a phone or something. A watch glistening or something, but I’m pretty sure it was a knife.

He wasn’t looking at us but immediately I had a flash back to a video I saw where a clown started chasing someone at like, full speed. So I wasted no time and we high tailed it out of there.

Usually I don’t believe in this kind of stuff. Honestly I thought those clown videos were just all faked. But when you see one yourself, and you think that somebody’s crazy enough to go stand in the forest dressed like that, you don’t care what’s faked. You get the fuck out of there!”

Personally I’m also skeptical of this “killer clown” thing. It seems a little too “Hollywood” to be true to me, it kind of taps into this scary movie fear we have as a society. I don’t know if I actually believe he saw a clown, or if he even believes he did. Part of me thinks he’s just playing off of the trend and wanted to have a creepy clown story of his own.

I also wonder about the “scary clown” thing— why is it true? What’s so scary about clowns, or as a society did we choose to make the clown scary because it’s a better narrative?

Narrative

The Backyard Clown

Title: The Backyard Clown

Interviewee: Adrian Vigil

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Age: 20

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?):

AJ is sitting on a sofa in front of the Trojan Knights house, it is a calm warm Sunday in South Central Los Angeles. It is a group of 10 male students from the University of Southern California sitting on the front porch, sharing stories. All of these men are members of Trojan Knights, and are relaxing after having started cooking homemade friend chicken. All of these men are close to one another, including the interviewer. AJ says he has a good one as he puts his drink down.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee- “Okay here we go. This is long one, but I have a good scary story that happened to my friend. I think it could have been a ghost, but I don’t know. Okay here we go you cannoli (see post “What a Cannoli”). Okay so my friend lives in these suburbs of Houston.”

Interviewer- “Texas?”

Interviewee- “Of course you cannoli (see post “What a Cannoli”)! Ok so he lives in the suburbs, and his house has this back yard. It’s pretty big back there not going to lie. And so the backyard is all grass and surrounding the backyard he has bushes that act like a wall between his backyard and other peoples yards you know? Ok so he has this backyard, and his bedroom is the on the second floor, and he has this one big window looking back over the backyard. So this is where it gets creepy. This one night, he was sleeping, and he is a really light sleeper so stuff wakes him easily. Ok so one night he was sleeping, and he wakes up because he hears something weird in the backyard. So he walks to his window, and he sees this stupid clown dude just stumbling around in the backyard, looked like he was drunk or on something to be sure. My friend told me thought it was funny to see this guy bumbling around. So my friend then went back to bed and made a mental note to tell his parents that they should make sure drunk people can’t stumble onto their backyard anymore. So my friend went to bed that night laughing to himself. He told his parents the next morning, and his parents waved it off saying that that was a one-time thing. So my friend goes about his day as normal. Only thing is, is that he wakes up the next night, and hears things coming from his backyard, but the sounds are different. Immediately he is more upset at the noises, and more on edge about the whole situation. So he walks slowly to the window, and sees into his backyard. And in the backyard, with a shovel, is the clown. The clown isn’t bumbling about anymore, and he has a shovel in his hand. The clown is digging, digging into his backyard, and at this point my friend is thoroughly freaked out. He walks back from the window, makes sure all the doors in the house are locked and windows, and goes back to bed to try to sleep, but the sound of the digging kept him up. The next day he tells his parents, and they say that he’s seeing things and he is just a silly guy who always tries to pull something on his parents. They say that it was probably a dog digging for something, because dogs usually do that and the hole left in the back was just a dog and they would fix it soon and have someone come to fill it up. They did admit however that it was quite a big hole, a hole that is far bigger than most dogs can make. They dismiss the idea of the clown none the less. Then came the third night. Once again, my friend woke up in the middle of the night, around three am I think it was. But something is wrong, something is very different this time. A feeling of dread came upon him as he realized he was awake. He knew something was wrong. He didn’t hear anything coming from outside, but he didn’t know why he was awake. He kept telling himself to just go back to bed, to ignore everything in his imagination and just go back to sleep. He told himself not to get out of his bed, but he did. He told himself not to walk across his room over to the window, but he did. He told himself not to look out the window into the backyard, but he did. And there was the clown, with his back to my friend, and he was staring at the hole he had made the night before. In that hole there was a coffin. My friend was very confused. Then the clown bent down and opened the coffin, it was empty. My friend was confused, he didn’t know what was happening. Then the clown turned around and stared at my friend in the eyes. He knew he had been watching. My friend was paralyzed with fear. The clown just stared and him, then the clown pointed at the coffin, and started to laugh. My friend realized the coffin was meant for him. He shook his head to say no, and the clown tilted his head in confusion, even putting his hands on his hips in a comical way. He pointed again at the coffin, and my friend again shook his head. The clown grew upset and now frowned, even showing his teeth a little in hatred. Then the clown once again pointed at the coffin this time forcefully. My friend started to walk backwards slowly, to go tell his parents, but then in a blink the clown was gone, like he had just disappeared, so my friend went up to the window to look and see where the clown had gone. That’s when he heard his closet door creak open, and a creepy laugh coming from behind him.”

(Long pause)

Interviewer- “Is that it? Did anything else happen?”

Interviewee- “Nope that’s it. It turned out to be nothing although my friend doesn’t sleep in that room anymore and hates clowns now. His parents still think he was dreaming.”

Interviewer- “Do you?”

Interviewee- “Ummm no. I think he was telling the truth, at least the truth from his perspective. Maybe he had nightmares that seemed too real, or he had nightmares that were real for him.”

Analyzation:

So there are many parts to this story, and they all seem to work together. There are multiple versions of this story going around, especially recently with the internet being as big as it is today. I personally have read an online story that sounded very similar. In that respect, there are certain things that give it away as being a story that has been told many times. That is not to say that it did not happen, more so to say that it has been converted into a form that is easy to remember and relay to other people. Firstly, the fact that the clown appears in the backyard three times, and the third time is the time that something big happens. Likewise, further into the story, when the clown is pointing at the coffin, he points three times, and the third time is again when something happens. This is prevalent in western culture, this fixation on the number three. Beginning with the Holy Trinity in the Catholic faith, to the three colors of the American flag and many other flags and such. Three strikes and you’re out, the list goes on and on. The number three is integrated heavily into our culture, but natural things do not usually occur in threes, so when things like that do happen in stories, and even twice within the same story, one can discern that it has morphed into more of a story than an actual account of what happened.

Tags: Horror Story, Clown, Backyard

Legends

Cram it, Clownie!

The informant grew up in various parts of California, due to his father needing to relocate for work. The contemporary legend described below was first heard by him in Norwalk, CA when he was 9 or 10 years old in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. The informant’s older brother and his friends (older by 3 years) first told the story and the informant overheard them. He remembers seeing the Bozo show, but he does not remember this specific episode. He tells this story when reminded by a story about similar defiant acts by children or when televison-related urban legends are brought up.

The story is as follows (paraphrased):

There was a television show in the 1960’s called Bozo the Clown that had children as guest stars on each episode. It was supposed to be an honor to be one of these guests, and most kids were happy to be there. These programs were not heavily edited and time-delayed like the television shows of today. There was one kid, though, that was not having it. When Bozo asked the child to do something or answer a question as was normally done, the child loudly said “Cram it, Clownie!” This was obviously not the expected response and is probably why this story gets told.

The story caused my informant to laugh as he told the story. My informant had not actually seen the episode in question, and the show was probably not rebroadcast if this did occur. This really shows the unpredictability and unfiltered nature of some children, which was entertaining even to 10-13 year old boys in the 1960’s. This wouldn’t be entertaining if children were ‘supposed’ to be like that, so the fact that the story is still entertaining shows something about how children realize that they are not supposed to behave that way. I think he remembered this legend because he has seen instances of children misbehaving like this in public throughout his life and career and therefore enjoys an example that was publicly broadcast. Because he has raised two children (19 years old and 22 years  old) I think he has a different perspective now as a parent than he did when he first heard the story as a child who wasn’t much different in age from the child in question.

 

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