Clown Studies Course: History, Theory and Analysis of Clown

Every Wednesday at London Clown School

Clown Studies Course: History, Theory and Analysis of Clown

Enrolment now open for a new ten-week Clown Studies Course beginning mid-July. This will be the third time this highly popular course will run.


Wednesdays 15th July-16th September

Time: 18.30-20.30 GMT+1

Venue: Online Streaming 

Cost: £150 (whole term); £80 (5 classes); £18 (1 class)

EARLY BIRD PRICE before 15th June - £120

For enquiries and to enrol, please email: 

Payments in advance are valid for the term.

Clowning is generally thought to be something you do without the need for any kind of formal education. However, that doesn’t mean that clowns don’t think about what they do, or ask themselves questions about the why and the how of their art. Nor does it mean that they are unaware of the history of clowning, or of its many and varied manifestations in different cultures around the world. Even if you don’t generally talk about clowning as a philosophy, you are likely to have a set of ideas or assumptions about what is of value, that inform how you perform or see other clowns.

This course aims to bring all that thinking out into the open, and to add to what each individual already knows by asking questions about clowns: past, present and future

Such courses are extremely rare. I started running classes on clown studies (history, theory, analysis) back in 2006 when we opened the Barcelona Clown School. It felt like an innovation then. No one was really teaching clown history or theory or analysis. To me it seemed self-evident that thinking and knowing about clowning could benefit your performing. Or that it could be a worthwhile and fascinating study in itself. More than a decade later, there is little or no chance to study this field, neither in private clown schools nor in universities, despite all the talk of embracing ‘popular performance’.


For five years, the London Clown School has consisted of practical weekly workshops in the foundations of clown dynamics and the developing and devising of clown performance material. It has also indirectly given birth to an experimental performing company that presents a monthly show in London, ‘Friday Flop’. People come regularly or occasionally to classes, and there is always a mix of old and new faces. Each participant gets to explore as they wish, whether it's discovering the joy of being stupid in front of others, or preparing performance material to try out in public. you may learn, nor when you may learn it.


So now, in a similar sustained way, there is an opportunity to explore the other side: the history, theory and analysis of clowning.


This initiative first ran from the beginning of 2020, offering both in-person and online options.

For the moment, though, only the online options will be available. 



General questions - What is clown? What is funny? How can we talk about clown? What is clown’s relationship to comedy? to humour? How do we know what clowns are? What are they for?


What is clown’s history? How are clowns specific to their time and place? Why do different meanings become attached to clowns according to their time and place? What is a Shakespearean clown? A circus clown? An auguste clown? A personal clown? What are clowns doing now? What do clowns argue about? What are todays issues for clowns? Using a selection of texts and other sources, we will study some of the principle movements in clown history as well as current trends.


Using practical observation of the work of clown performers, live or on video/film, contemporary or historical, how can we talk about them? What is the vocabulary of the clown critic? How can we answer the question ‘why is this (not) funny/clown?’ Whenever you watch clown performance, whether on video or live, you will be expected to record your responses for later discussion.

How does the Clown Studies Course function?


Options for following the course

You can currently follow the course online by viewing the weekly videos either live or in recorded videos, or combining both ways.

If you follow live, you will be able to interact via chat



Each week’s session focuses on a particular aspect of clown studies, using a combination of video viewing, readings and discussion.

Each week:

  • Before the scheduled video session, you will receive preliminary questions, with reading and/or viewing tasks

  • Access to the video session either live or as a recording, a you prefer

  • After the session, follow-up questions/tasks/assignments

  • Feedback on your responses to the session

Live streaming and recording access

  • You will need access to Zoom

  • Those participating in live stream sessions will be able to interact via text chat when appropriate.

  • Live-streamed sessions will be available as recordings once the live session is over

  • You will be invited to join a private group on Facebook where all participants can communicate with each other in a support and discussion forum.


Assignments and Feedback

There will be short assignments or questions each week/session relating to the session covered or coming up (if you follow it in your own time through recorded materials this can be done at your own convenience within the overall time limit for the course). It is envisaged that you will need to spend around an hour reading, watching materials and writing or recording your responses each week/session. Each participant will receive feedback or comments as the course progresses.



Each participant will compile a small single-issue project of their own choice on clown themes, by the end of the course. Each project will receive feedback and may also be discussed by the course participants when appropriate and feasible. The aim of the project is to produce a short response or reflection on a specific area of clown studies. Projects can be compiled in any format - text, photos, videos, spoken word or any other format that can be stored or recorded for future clown students to consult. The amount of time needed to compile the project may vary according to the content and format.



Additional source materials

  • Participants will be provided with a variety of source materials – text extracts, video, photos, bibliography.

  • Additional video material will be made available via playlists and my own website for you to access at any time during the course and until the cut-off point (one year from the beginning of the course). Much of this material is available online freely in any case, but it will be organised for your convenience of study and reference


There will be a cut-off time for the assignments and receiving feedback of one year from the date of the beginning of the course.


Please send an email to and I will send you details of how to pay.




I do not refund payments made (either whole or part payments) but I can offer you the chance to use your payment towards a course or workshop at a later date within one year of the original courser. This can only be done once and must be requested at least 48 hours before the start of a course or workshop. If you cancel within 24 hours or do not turn up without notification then you should pay any outstanding fee.


This policy is to protect the viability of courses, whose costs and numbers of participants need to be confirmed in advance.


I try to keep all prices as low as possible (I haven’t forgotten how difficult it can be to be a student). That’s why there is a single price, with no discounts or concessionary rates.