American Clown is a feature-length documentary exploring the plight of clowns in a country that looks on them with a growing sense of apprehension and disdain.
Guilford Adams has worked as a professional clown for nearly two decades. In recent years, he’s watched media reports of “clowns” terrorizing neighborhood streets at night, the reboot of “IT” and Pennywise, the shuttering of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the unceremonious end to the regional Ronald McDonald program, where “assistants” to Ronald appeared at grand openings, community events and elementary school shows.
Guilford was one of those dismissed assistants to Ronald.
As he felt the culture shifting, he started thinking about what it might mean for him, his family and all of his clowning comrades.
Our film follows Guilford’s quest as he surveys the current state of clowning with his friends who are also struggling to adapt, as well as legendary performers of past eras and their take on the history and art of clowning.
“By laughing at me, the audience really laughs at themselves and realizing they have done this, gives them sort of a spiritual second wind for going back into the battles of life.” – Emmett “Weary Willie” Kelly
This is the journey of a working-class clown looking for his place in America.