The Whiteface ClownClowning Around
Commonly know as the Classic Clown
Face Appearance: A full white face with precise and delicate red and white features. The european whitefaced clown even goes as far as painting his ears red. He is usually the type of clown most people have in mind when they hear the word “clown”.
Costume Appearance: The whiteface usually dressed extravagantly and has a costume mostly made up of white with some colour trims. . It is common for a whiteface to wear a skull cap covered with a wig that is usually very colourful and “wild. It is said that most whitefaced clowns would look fantastic in a suit, and their costumes usually portray this by being made up of two or three piece “clown suits”.
Character: Usually the “boss” clown of all clown types. The whiteface is in charge, end of story. He is usually always right and even when he is wrong, he is still right. He is also know to be the more serious type of clown and seems to run the show when other clowns are present.
Types of Whiteface Clowns:
European Whiteface (Classic): Commonly known as the Pierott Clown, the classic european clown is highly artistic and skillful yet comedic or dramatic. He usually paints on features like his red comedy nose, eyebrows and eyelashes. His costume is always classy and he is considered the “most majestic and beautiful” of all white face clowns. (Zimbo would fall under this type of clown)
Straight Whiteface: Elegant aristocrat of clowns. If a clown troop is full of whiteface clowns then the straight clown would be in charge. This clown is usually the one that causes all the trouble… the one that throws the ‘pie in face’ and not the one to receive it. His costume is very similar to the classic clown but is more colourful and cheery.
Grotesque Whiteface: Though very similar to the straight whiteface, the Grotesque Whiteface is more reserved and is known to over exaggerate his costume appearance with extra large shoes, a huge clown nose and very glamorous fake eyelashes (for the female clowns).
History of the Whiteface: The oldest of all clowns, the whiteface was also known as the Court Jester from the middle ages though the jester used to use little or no makeup at all. The whiteface clown can also be dated back to the greek theatre where the white features were used to enhance the faces of the actors who were performing on stages with black backdrops.
The famous comedy troop Commedia del Arté gave their performers names such as Pierrot, Columbine, Harleqin and Clown (Yes ‘Clown” was the name of a character) which created the clown types you see today.
Famous Whiteface Characters: Bob Bell’s “Bozo the Clown”, Francesco Caroli, Frosty Little, Joseph Grimaldi, Felix Adler, Blinko, Duane Thorpe’s “Uncle Soapy”, and George Fox. I guess one could also add Ronald Mc Donald to this list although he is more a advertising character than a comedy character.