Top psychologist Dr Nicola Davies introduces everyone’s favourite pick-me-up friend, the clown
Meet the clown, the person who never runs out of jokes, humorous observations or pranks.
We like the clown because they make us laugh and feel better about life. They surprise us by what they do or say, and their unpredictability and spontaneity attract us to them, especially their ability to help us laugh at ourselves. Clowns use humour to connect with others, which is an effective tool for social survival because we like people who can make us laugh.
Here’s how to spot one:
- They like to make fun of themselves and others to provoke laughter.
- Making fun of themselves is a way of showing they don’t take themselves too seriously.
- They sometimes use sarcasm or put-downs to mask their aggression.
- Everyone knows the clown as the office prankster.
- They have the ability to laugh at how ridiculous and absurd life and people can be, including themselves.
- People like inviting them to their parties because of their spontaneity and need to entertain.
Not all humour is positive or healthy. Indeed, the clown can also use their wit and banter to mask feelings of insecurity and aggression.
- Some of the negatives to the clown personality include:
- Misplaced humour can sometimes cause more stress or disrupt already fragile relationships.
- While the clown can use humour to make people feel included in a social circle, they can also use it to alienate and exclude others.
- Not everyone likes sarcastic wit, teasing or ridicule.
- The clown has a tendency to use inappropriate humour to place a negative light on someone perceived as a threat,while also trying to gain more status for themselves (at work, for example).
Due to their humorous take on life, including its sad moments, the clown is someone people love to have around as they help us cope with challenging situations. Some other positives about this personality type include:
- They are great at lightening stressful situations at work, including making fun of tyrannical bosses.
- Since they can laugh at their own flaws, they inspire others to laugh at theirs.
- Where there is tension, the clown can lighten the mood instantly with witty and insightful sayings and tales.
- Their humour is contagious; they can put almost anyone in a good mood.
- Their mere presence sometimes brings relief during a crisis.
How do I deal with a clown?
The clown is on a mission to make people laugh and enjoy life. As a result, they may not know when their wit and pranks are offensive or hurtful.
However, when dealing with a clown it is important to remember that:
- They are emotionally sensitive and might feel offended when told they are not that funny, or that their humour is unwelcome. On the other hand, the well-meaning clown will apologise instead of showing aggression in return.
- When suspecting that someone is using humour to escape the reality of a painful situation or through lack of self-confidence, gently remind them that it’s okay and necessary to accept and allow hurtful feelings to be experienced.
- It is best to speak up when you suspect the clown of using humour as a tool to express aggression against you or someone else; it will force them to face their anger instead of avoiding it.
- Clownish humour can be overwhelming, and sometimes the person has difficulty stopping themselves; if you cannot leave the room, stop laughing and smiling at their jokes or try to find a distraction.
Am I a clown?
Everyone is capable of humour. There is, however, the potential danger of using humour too much or at inappropriate times.
You are likely to be a clown if you:
- Feel empty and think you are a failure if you cannot get others to laugh at your jokes or clownish behaviour.
- Most of the time express your dislike of someone through put-downs or sarcastic humour behind their back, instead of expressing your misgivings openly and directly.
- You spontaneously look for a funny angle in almost any and every situation.
- People like having you at parties or fun events.
- You sometimes use humour to put yourself down.
- You make fun of yourself regularly to amuse others.
- You are emotionally fragile and use humour as a way of connecting with the world.