Since last week’s premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show, Twisty the Clown has been getting lots of buzz (and protests) for being so terrifying and murderous. But, for me, nothing compares to Sesame Street’s 1970s segment that I refer to as “The Clown Who Takes Off His Make-Up.” The second that clown appeared on my TV screen with his ratty wig and crooked mouth, I would scream hysterically and run to the other end of our apartment. In my defense, I was probably only three at the time, and you have to admit, this guy is weird. Why is he so dead-eyed and lethargic? Because he’s exhausted from his killing spree. Why is he hunched forward? Because he’s going to pounce on you. Why does he put his nose in a box? Because he puts all body parts in boxes! The fact that this clip is shown in reverse, at double-speed, with frantic circus music in the background just exacerbates the horror. And watching him take off his ill-applied face-paint, backwards, well, it’s just ghastly. WHAT WAS SESAME STREET THINKING? WHY DID BIG BIRD LET THIS HAPPEN?
I begged my mother to write to PBS and have them yank this nightmare from rotation. She said she did, but I don’t know if it’s true (did you, Mother?). This clown stuck around long enough to scar me for life, and looking him in the face as I write this post is doing nothing to desensitize me. I’d rather Twisty just put me out of my misery than have to stare into this grease-painted abyss for one second longer.