♫ Send In The Clowns ♫

Oh the irony.  After the impeachment verdict this afternoon, predictable but nonetheless devastating, this song kept playing in my head.  I was sad, angry, and hopeless, and this was the song that seemed to match all three of those emotions.  So, I checked to see if I had played it here before and … LO AND BEHOLD … I played this one almost exactly one year ago, during the first impeachment trial for the jackass-who-shall-remain-nameless!  Wow … forever more, this song will be associated in my mind with impeachment!  At any rate, here’s what I had to say about it a year ago …


Although I have not watched much of the impeachment trial, I have read various analyses and watched a few clips.  Yesterday afternoon, I wrote my thoughts on what I have alternately referred to as a dog-and-pony show, and a three-ring-circus.  With that in mind, I thought this song, or at least the title of it, perfectly appropriate for tonight.

This is a song written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music, an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night. It is a ballad from Act Two, in which the character Desirée reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life.

The “clowns” in the title do not refer to circus clowns. Instead, they symbolize fools, as Sondheim explains …

“I get a lot of letters over the years asking what the title means and what the song’s about; I never thought it would be in any way esoteric. I wanted to use theatrical imagery in the song, because she’s an actress, but it’s not supposed to be a circus.  It’s a theater reference meaning “if the show isn’t going well, let’s send in the clowns”; in other words, “let’s do the jokes.” I always want to know, when I’m writing a song, what the end is going to be, so “Send in the Clowns” didn’t settle in until I got the notion, “Don’t bother, they’re here”, which means that “We are the fools.”  As I think of it now, the song could have been called “Send in the Fools”. I knew I was writing a song in which Desirée is saying, “aren’t we foolish” or “aren’t we fools?” Well, a synonym for fools is clowns, but “Send in the Fools” doesn’t have the same ring to it.”

Clowns … fools … either one works equally well in Washington tonight.

Send in the Clowns
Judy Collins

Isn’t it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air,
Where are the clowns?

Isn’t it bliss?
Don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can’t move,
Where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns?

Just when I’d stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours
Making my entrance again with my usual flair
Sure of my lines
No one is there

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry, my dear!
But where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here

Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year

Songwriters: Stephen Sondheim
Send in the Clowns lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

34 thoughts on “♫ Send In The Clowns ♫

  1. After 33 years of following politics, it still bewilders me how some of our politicians are attending weekly religious services in good conscience and sleeping well at night. …

    Politics is ‘the art of compromise’ / politics at its moral peak / though this moral peak / indeed lies below a dead sea’s level / but the compromise of ethics / and integrity is politics at / its moral natural state / —a state in which the media beast / must be fed, will feast from / the politicians’ tin can / filled with naught but the spin man / of the political animal.

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  2. I watched the first three days of the proceedings, wondering how this could have possibly worked. But by the weekend, I realized that the targets were Pence and Pelosi. If both had been killed before 1/20, he could have declared martial law and stated in power. My thanks to the heroes who stopped that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly … I am convinced that was his plan. I am disgusted by the entire thing, but I think what disgusts me most is seeing the clip of Trump and his family watching the attacks on television, Trump with a smirk on his face, and Junior’s girlfriend actually dancing!

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  3. Reading the last line of the song from the viewpoint of your 2020 post, it’s been one year, and the clowns are back. Almost gratifying, in a sick sense of the word.
    Now, to change the conversation a mite, what would you think if I told you an English author wrote a futuristic science fiction novel which was first published in 1968, about the year 2010, then still 42 years away, in which the President of the USA was a black man named Obomi? Pretty freaky, woundn’t you say?
    Sheer luck, or did John Brunner have a direct but fuzzy line to the future? Maybe, but big deal, right? Probably no one ever heard of the novel except a few weirdos like rawgod! Except, the novel, Stand on Zanzibar, won the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of 1968, worldwide!
    I just started rereading the book a few days ago, now available free online, after a 30 year stretch. I read it a number of times in the 60s and 70s, it was an early entry into the New Wave genre of SF.
    AT 71 years of age I am actually finding the story a bit harder to read than when I was younger, it jumps around so much it makes me wonder if I did not have ADD at the time.
    I hesitate to say the book is full of predictions, though some people do call then that. I think Brunner was just trying to fill his future world with things not available, or even probable, at the time he wrote it. The story itself is not probable even in 2021, yet I see glimpses of today in his backgrounds. One point, which has not happened yet, is tobacco is banned for its carcinogenic properties. It was not well known in 1968, but there must have been available knowledge in 1968, and he took it to its logical end.
    Anyways, just wanted to distract you and your readers from yet another failure of American government, and maybe move the spotlight to something more astounding than our present reality. Obomi? Obama! How close can a guy come!

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  4. Having been a teacher, it greatly disappointed and sickened me to see so many young fools following Trump lately. I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with the way my own children and most of their friends turned out. It’s a beautiful song anyway. Thanks for playing it. Take care, Jill. 🙂 — Suzanne

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    • I will never understand his appeal to the young … or to anybody, for that matter. The only thing I can figure is they love his bigotry and racism. I am told I shouldn’t say that his followers are racists, but from everything I’ve seen, it is a statement of fact. Glad you liked the song! Keep safe, my friend!

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      • I don’t see anything wrong with saying the truth. Those QAnon followers remind me of the KKK. They–the KKK–didn’t like the Catholics since the Church said right out that they were a hate group. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the Q followers are or were also KKK. —- Suzanne

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  5. Love the song!!!! 💜 Love Judy Collins!!!!
    I am sickened by the corruption in the Republican Party!!!! As for trump….I am now going to sit and wait ….because
    he IS GOING TO PRISON!!!!! I have faith in NY State to prosecute him for tax evasion, money laundering and Insurance Fraud!!!! His republican cronies will not be able to protect him! He’s going down!!!!!!

    HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to YOU, My Dear SOUL SISTER!!!! Hugs!!!! 🌹
    Hope you have a Magical Day!!!! 💙

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you loved the song! Yes, what happened yesterday … what has BEEN happening for the past 5 years … is unconscionable and without precedent, at least in this country. I hope you’re right, that between federal and state charges, he will be prosecuted and sent to prison for the rest of his life. A fitting end.

      Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too, soul sister! Huge hugs and much love! 💕

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  6. Jill, it is an apt song. Here is the reminder that needs to be said to the 43 who voted to acquit the seditious former president, a line I actually used to a couple. “While I strongly disagree with your vote, we should take a moment to be thankful you were able to make such a vote after the former president caused the insurrection on the Capitol building.” Keith

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      • Jill, thanks. From a statement released by GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski who voted to convict the seditious former president.

        “If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is,” Murkowski states.

        Keith

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        • My hat is off to Murkowski, as well as the other 6 who realized the danger of allowing this madman to go uncensured. They will pay a price, but they will go to bed tonight with clear consciences, quite the contrary of Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, Mitch McConnell et al.

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          • Jill, so true. Two thoughts pop into my head about the state Republican parties that are censuring Republicans who voted to impeach or convict. Each time they take aim at one of them, it gives them the chance to repeat their resolve into why the former president is a traitor. Which leads me to my second thought. Being a traitor and causing the death of now seven people by consistently lying and inciting is not worth censuring, but telling said traitor they do not approve is. That is the story in a nutshell. And, there is something terribly wrong with that story. Keith

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            • You’re so right, my friend … there is something terribly wrong with that story. There is something terribly wrong with the politicians we elect and whose salaries we pay being expected to put the whims of their party ahead of the needs of the people. The Republican Party has gotten, as my mother used to say, “too big for their britches”. I hope that those who are ‘censured’ (a meaningless ritual) take it as Cindy McCain did when the Arizona Republican Party censured her, and she said she would wear it as a badge of honour.

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