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Column: Be a clown, but not Pennywise 

Memories and Musings column 

GENE GALLELLI 

Be a clown, but not Pennywise 

Just to set the record straight, I’m not suggesting that anyone take on the appearance or personality of Pennywise, Stephen King’s gutter-lurking, knife-wielding and sharp-toothed monster from the three movie iterations of his bestseller, “IT.” Certainly King’s creation didn’t do much for circus box offices or a child’s restful sleep. 

But wait! If you choose to make “clown” synonymous with “funny person,” that’s a different story. If someone tells you, “You’re a hoot!” or “You crack me up!” you might be one of the gifted few. “That’s disgusting!” however, is not a compliment. 

Some individuals are just born with the gift of a “laughter gene.” I’m not certain what it looks like, or from which parent it was received, but it’s just as much a part of a true clown’s blood as plasma, red cells, white cells, and platelets. Of course, you have to have a kind heart or the gene is immediately rejected. 

Funny people make you smile when you see them, when they speak, when they write and, yes, when they tell jokes or stories. Many of their jokes and tales are self-deprecating and about everyday things; amazingly, they can make you laugh even when disagreeing with you, always allowing you to leave with your dignity intact. 

“Such individuals do not exist!” you say. Wrong! I’m still smiling from running into one in the grocery store, two days ago. Grocery store, post office, doctor’s office, it doesn’t matter; they’re out there. A smile was the one thing in my shopping cart that didn’t cost me a nickel. 

Trying to be funny without the laughter gene doesn’t work; it’s an exercise in futility. When I try to be funny, I only elicit polite guffaws, although I got plenty of laughs after I drove off with the gas pump dangling from my car! (The gas attendant didn’t think it was funny, especially after I presented the severed pump to him and said, “I believe this belongs to you!”) 

So, a heartfelt, “Thank You!” to all the true clowns out there who don’t need painted faces, funny clothes, or big feet to keep the sun shining, the birds singing, and the love flowing. 

Pennywise, please stay in the gutter where you belong. You’re not funny! 

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