Clowns, either well-loved by children across the world or the subject of their nightmares, could become a thing of the past in the US as a growing national clown shortage looms.
The Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger has warned that membership numbers are plummeting because of the reluctance from younger generations to take up the time-honoured tradition of clowning.
“What’s happening is attrition,” he told The New York Daily News. “The older clowns are passing away.”
The World Clown Association has seen a steady decline in its numbers from 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.
Association President Deanna Hartmier told the Daily News that most of their members are now over the age of 40.
Mr Kohlberger echoed this sentiment, and said it is becoming increasingly difficult to get younger people to not only develop an interest in clowning, but to then undertake it at a professional level.
“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore" he said. "Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”
The trade seems to lack a financial incentive as well; clowns typically earn between $200 (£119) and $300 (£179) for appearances at birthday parties, with only a select few making it into world-renowned circuses such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
Clown phobias encouraged by popular culture probably hasn't helped their cause either, with coulrophobia becoming increasingly common thanks to the likes of Stephen King's IT and films such as The Devil's Reject.
The UK briefly had its own sinister-looking clown in Northampton, whose creepy appearances made him an online sensation and sparked a string of copy-cat pranksters.