Wheeler the Clown  Wheeler the CLOWN                                    Presents:

Learn About The Different

Classes of Clown Types

                                You may click on any picture below to see a larger version


Wheeler as a Whiteface ClownThe Whiteface Clown is one of the oldest and  the most  elite of the clown types, usually wears a one-piece costume, and has makeup that can be subtle or exaggerated. One of the earliest forms of this clown is the harlequin. Mimes are also related to this clown type. In the 19th and early 20th centuries in the Circus or on stage, the Whiteface was often teamed with a clumsy Auguste clown and was always in charge of and in control of the situation. In today's world, group clowning is the name of the circus game, so the distinction is not so clear. Today, Ronald McDonald is perhaps the most famous of this clown type, followed closely by Bozo. Young Wheeler (pictured at left) started out as a Whiteface Clown.


The Auguste  Clown  is the bumbling, misfit clown. The name auguste is German (Berlin) slang for Buffoon. He is the middle man of the clown hierarchy. Originally his role was that of foil to the whiteface, but today that distinction is not so clear.  
Paul FratelliniAlbert FratelliniThe original Auguste clown, like Paul Fratellini (pictured on the right), wore no makeup and was normally dressed in elegant evening clothes. He tried to look sauve and sophisticated, but of course always failed. Today's Auguste Clown owes its look to another Fratellini Brother, Albert. (pictured on the left). Albert was part of a clown trio and felt a need to create an entirely new clown character to interact with brothers Paul (the traditional auguste) and Francois (a whiteface)

Thanks to a contribution by Mo-Lite the ClownI have learned that  there are two versions of the present day Auguste.  

Lou JacobsRegular or American Auguste: Like the original Auguste, this clown is still the clumsy bumbler, but the makeup and clothing are quite a bit different .  Make up is usually grotesque (larger than life) and is mainly flesh toned. The typical face has full white eye masks and white around the mouth. The costume is ill-fitting (i. e. too large or  too small). Lou Jacobs (pictured at left) is one of the most famous of this clown type.        
Mo Lite

European Auguste: This  newer version of the Auguste clown is similarly costumed but uses very little white on the face; thus has a more human look. The European auguste clown is becoming very popular these days, according to Mo-Lite (pictured at right)



The Character Clown, as the name implies, is a specific character (i. e. a cop, cowboy,  fireman, or a child like Tootsie, on the right). Make-up and costume are determined by the character type. (i.e. character clowns may look whiteface, auguste or tramp: it just depends on the character being portrayed). Some people classify Tramps as character clowns; most put them in a class of their own. Two of the most famous character clowns were JoJo Lewis, probably the first cop clown, and Frankie Saluto, who started his clowning career as a midget Charlie Chaplin.


The Tramp Clown, (also known as the hobo or charley clownwas originally classified as one type of  character clown, but has since evolved into its own classification. It is the only clown type created in the United Wheeler as a tramp clownStates. Beginning as a vaudeville juggler, the tramp gained popularity in the circus thanks to such greats as Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly, Sr. and Otto Griebling.

The tramp is the low man in the clown hierarchy. Either everything happens to him or her, or else this poor clown is the cause of the disaster. (For example, Weary Willie would enter a ring as a net was being set up and proceed to take the net down.) Famous tramp clowns include Emmett Kelly Sr. and Jr. (Weary Willie), Otto Griebling, and Red Skelton (aka Freddie the Freeloader). Silent actor Charlie Chaplin could also be classified a tramp clown, and indeed called his famous movie character The Tramp. Wheeler (pictured on the right) has been all of the clown types in his career, but is currently a tramp clown.

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This Page was updated on: 07/18/2004