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medieval circus

Clown, comedy figure of the pantomime and circus. Modern clowns possibly derived from the vice figures of medieval miracle plays and jesters in medieval courts. They later figured as harlequins in the commedia dell'arte; but their grotesque makeup, baggy clothes, and slapstick developed fully only in the 1800s. The best-known 20th-century American circus clown was Emmett Kelly.

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