Big Red Noses (The Story Of A Clown Song) by Julian the Juggler from CIRCUS UNLIMITED!
Circus Stories

Big Red Noses - The Story Of A Clown Song
by Julian the Juggler

A while ago, the Chairman of Clowns International (it’s like The Magic Circle….but for Clowns),  suggested to me that it would be a GOOD IDEA if there was a Clown Song.  We could sing this at gatherings of Clowns, as and when appropriate.  Entirely optional, of course!  As I have a history of music, he asked if I’d have a go at writing such a song.  I’ve been writing songs for nearly 40 years now (and some day, I hope to get one right!)  This is the story of that song.

Read the words and hear the Clown Song, "Big Red Noses" here

See the Clown Song Video on our Home Page

The Music:
I spent some time thinking about the music/melody.  If the song is to be sung by people other than myself, it needs a strong and simple tune (no offence!)  It needs to be sing-able by a wide range of voices.  And it needs a bouncy feel;  after all, it’s a Clown song.  Finally, it hit me:  The best tune in the whole wide world already exists….and is no longer subject to copyright!  “Entry of the Gladiators”, “Thunder and Blazes or “The Circus March”, call it what you will, was written in 1897 by Julius Fucik.

Julius Fucik, 1872-1916

Julius Fucik

Julius Fucik was a Czechoslovakian band leader and composer who wrote around 300 marches, polkas and waltzes during his lifetime, 1872-1916.  None of these attained the fame of the march which he originally called:  “Grande March Chromatique” (because it uses a chromatic scale in it’s musical construction).  Fucik later changed the title to reflect his personal interest in ancient Rome (and, one assumes, because the original title, “Grande March Chromatique” was too hard to remember!)   

It’s a short piece of music (less than 3 minutes) and has several distinct sections with only one of these repeated.  I have used the opening section (the bit everyone knows - for verses 1, 2, 4 and 5) and the third section (for verses 3 and 6).  The Big Red Noses Clown Song is around 1 minutes long.

The Words:
The words, I decided, needed to say who Clowns are, what they look like and what they do.  As the song says:  “Each Clown is diff’rent” so specific references were out.  For example, it’s no good singing that all Clowns juggle….when all Clowns don’t!  I have also tried to avoid tongue twisters and leave time to take a breath here and there!  And, more than anything else, I have tried to reflect in the words the idea of fun and laughter.  There is, of course, a limit to how often you can use words like “fun”  “laughter”  “happy” and even “Clown” without the whole thing sounding ridiculous.

The Style:
So it’s a bouncy song, loosely to the tune of “Entry of the Gladiators” for (possibly) untrained voices.  Written on the acoustic guitar (because that’s my main instrument).

Read the words and hear the Clown Song, "Big Red Noses" here

See the Clown Song Video on our Home Page

Have a listen, try singing along yourself.  I think it has a lot of comedy potential for “doing the actions” as you sing it.

The song is designed to be sung by anyone at anytime.  It doesn’t need instrumental accompaniment at all.  Just the voice or voices.  Whistles, bells and percussive instruments might all add to the effect if these are available.

A collection of Big Red Noses on a Giggle of Clowns

A collection of Big Red Noses on a Giggle of Clowns

The Fantasy:
A group of Clowns get together and learn the song.  They get it recorded and produce a promotional video.  (
Achieved! - See here)  Appearances on popular music programmes follow together with interviews on Jonathan Ross and Newsnight.  Before long, there is an invitation to perform at the Royal Albert Hall for Her Majesty the Queen and visiting dignitaries.  All the tabloid newspapers carry pictures of the Clowns and the words to the song.  The Times will run a sniffy article which will bemoan the commercialism of it all.  Finally a free karaoke DVD of the song is given away with The Mail on Sunday.  The next week, the news has an item on how scary Clowns can be.

The Reality:
The song, Big Red Noses (and its story) appeared in the Clowns International magazine, “The Joey”, issue 78, May 2007.  I asked for feedback (and suggestions for change) and wrote a follow up article for The Joey, issue 79, September 2007.

The Feedback:
I’m very grateful for all the feedback I received about the song by telephone and Email from other members of Clowns International.  Here is a selection.  I’ve kept the comments anonymous because….well, it’s more fun that way! 

“What a lovely little song!  All the wonderful talent out there seems to have been let free!” 

“Have just listened to the song, several time.  BRILL!!!” 

“We are the only Clowns...in the world to have our own song.  It’s brill – you’re a star.” 

“That’s just what we need .  Great song.  Well done!” 

“What can I say except you have a beautiful voice, the lyrics are VERY clever and I love the catchy tune."

“Well done – and thank you for writing it.”

“I think it’s great.  My husband thought it was a Jake Thackray song!  Do you have any more like this?  Brilliant.”

Julian the Juggler and Mattie Faint at the Clowns Museum, London

Julian the Juggler presents Mattie Faint with a copy of his Clown Song, Big Red Noses.
Mattie is one of the directors of the Clowns Museum.

The Future Of The Song:
Several Clowns have told me that they are using the song at parties or in their shows.  Sometimes I use it myself.  You're welcome to use it too....a writer's credit is all I ask, please!  Most recently, we made a video featuring the song for this Website!

See the Clown Song Video on our Home Page

[ Julian Mount - Songwriter, Singer & Musician ]

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