Joseph Grimalidi is supposed to be one of the earliest circus clowns in true sense. He made his first appearance in 1805 in England and his clown was known as Joey. He performed classic physical tricks such as tumbling, pratfalls and slapstick beatings. About fifty years later, Auguste clowns made their appearance with a big nose, clothes that were too loose, large shoes and untidy manners. These clowns used to entertain the people and make them laugh by spoiling the tricks of the 'white face' clown by messing things up at the last moment. Adrien Wettach was a famous whiteface pantomimist, who introduced a clown named Grock. This melancholic clown induced laughter in the audiences because of the way he always had bad luck with inanimate objects such as chairs that collapse when he tried to sit on them and the piano that he shoved into the stool accidentally. Grock resembled the American vagabond clown known as Emmett Kelly.
Auguste clown has its origin in Germany in 1869. An American acrobat
named Tom Belling was performing there with his circus group and was
confined to his dressing room as a punishment for not being discipline
and missing his tricks. To pass time, he put on clothes that were too
big for him in front of his friends and started imitating the show
manager, who just happened to step into the room at the time. Thus,
Belling started running and ended up in the circus arena where he
stumbled and fell over the ring curb. This made audience laugh hard and
yell 'Auguste!' (German for 'fool'). From then on, Belling was ordered
by the manager to continue his performances as the 'Auguste' clown.
Though, the story of the name may not be true (as it is believed that
the word 'Auguste' made its entry in the German language only after the
character), the character certainly became a favorite of the circus
audience and kids.
Another story related to the origin of Auguste clown and Belling states
that the character was copied from the Rizhii or Red Haired clowns that
Belling saw while touring Russia. In their early stages, these clowns
had a naturalistic appearance but later Albert Fratellini of the
Fratellini Brothers introduced this exaggerated make up for them that
have become a part of the tradition now. Charlie Chaplin made yet
another tramp-type fool or clown so popular that even today, kids love
to watch his movies and performances. This tram associated with the
auguste clown today was introduced by. Actually, it was James McIntyre
and Tom Heath who introduced this tramp character in 1874 to portray the
conditions of homeless African Americans who suffered during the Civil
War. They had found blackface minstrel clowns as the source of
inspiration for their character. This is why, even today the tramp
clowns have white mouth.