(WYTV)- Clowns, as we know them today, have been around for some 200 years.

Sometimes scary, sometimes goofy, clowns are popular in some many cultures across the world. The word clown first appeared in 1560, it may have come from, of all places, Iceland and the Icelandic word klunni translation: a clumsy person.

Joseph Grimaldi was the first famous clown, called the father of clowns, among the first to perform professionally on stage in England in 1802 as the clown “Joey” known for slapstick humor and physical tricks.

Grimaldi was the inventor of the face paint that clowns wear as their stage makeup. Is a clown the same as a jester? They are two different types of characters.

They both wear colorful clothing to exaggerate their characters but a clown is a performance artist who uses slapstick in a routine. A jester is an entertainer who jokes and mocks people and will improvise on the spot.
A clown makes a fool of himself, a jester makes a fool of the audience.

The fear of clowns is a very real thing. A survey from Chapman University in California found that eight percent of Americans admit they’re terrified of clowns. As far as personal fears go, it’s in the top four, right up there with death and terrorism, but above the fear of global warming.

International Clown Week is the first week of August. Although circus shows with their clown acts are declining, the legacy of the clown lives on through children’s birthday parties and modern horror films.