“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly”terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und drang between the media and politicians in those days. There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-video tape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother. They’re already here.


Categories: Anecdote, Garry Armstrong, Music, Political Cartoons, political parties, Politics, POTUS

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20 replies

  1. If it wasn’t for a rather sad and desperate reason, I’d have smiled. You know why? Yesterday evening I came across this sentence/statement in a novel I’m reading and a certain Edna Ferber who was quoted as follows: she told me something that has stayed with me.

    Ferber said:

    Beware the clowns.
    The leaders who start out as jokes – people make fun of them, they’re caricatures, cartoons in newspapers, and people decide they are harmless. Those men are the most dangerous. The day comes when they use their power against their own people.

    This paragraph made me sit up. I marked it with a post-it and meant to see when that American novel had been written and learn more about this writer. I didn’t do it because it was late and now I find your post. I find that nearly disturbing and don’t feel like looking anything up any longer. The Sinatra version is indeed a league of its own….


    • Edna Ferber was one of our great American novelists. Many of her books have historical settings and more than half of them are set in China. I read a lot of them when i was younger, but these days, they hurt more than they did. All the awful things she predicted are happening. Sometimes, the worse things are when authors — now long dead — were right.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Send in the Clowns is a perfect song for Canada. We are having a Provincial election in Ontario next week and it’s a real circus.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LMAO Oh that would be so perfect! I love that song, always have! A woman (81) sang it on The Irish X Factor. It was indeed incredible! Her version was quite beautiful, but Sinatra, well, who can beat his version?!


  4. Having already voted, I am still receiving mail flyers for several of the candidates — I’m up to 40 flyers as of today! They are now so negative that the candidate being promoted is identifiable only if you know whose PAC they belong to (or whose PAC belongs to the candidate). Send in the clowns — a most apt description!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The world is a frightening place that is getting MORE frightening day by day. And though I haven’t bothered to write about it a lot, I’m very bummed about losing all of the challenges on WordPress. You’ve been here long enough so maybe you went through this before. I don’t think we’ll budge them this time. They’re going for big money and though they topped a billion dollars last year, apparently, they need MORE money.

      The internet was/is/will be my last connection to a wider part of the human race and if we lose it, what else is there to do? I don’t think gardening is going to do it for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve not used the daily prompt as such, although I have responded to your prompted posts and others. Before coming to WP, I blogged on Xanga — it was the same type of trimming the community that was the demise of a wonderful platform in Xanga, which now is a skeleton of its former being. It’s a shame that those who have good ideas such as Xanga, WP, and others must eventually attempt to use these ideas as the basis for a cash cow, thus creating greed that destroys the platform.


        • Apparently, there is no such thing as making enough money. Not for anyone or any corporation. And yes, this really is the beginning of the end for WP, even though a lot of the newer people don’t see it. They will. They haven’t lived through watching one platform after another collapse in on itself by doing exactly what WordPress is doing. I guess a billion dollars wasn’t enough. Maybe a trillion would do it?


    • Slmret, it’s like we’re in a clown horror flick.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is — and the clowns are getting sicker by the day!


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