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Residents of Staten Island, New York, have recently reported being terrorized by an evil-looking clown, but like so many of your favorite television shows from the 2000s, this humor was imported from the U.K. Rather than an unholy apparition of evil, this clown appears to be pulling the same prank attempted by a British man last year in the town of Northampton

Sightings of a man dressed in a standard clown costume popped up around Staten Island recently: a brightly colored onesie, oversized gloves, oversized shoes, face paint and balloons. The Staten Island Advance first noticed the man-clown's emergence within the last two weeks. “He was just waving and holding balloons, he may have been giving them out to people if they walked by, not sure. I just drove by and took a picture and he waved at me and then I left,” one witness, Michael Leavy, told the Advance.

Despite your worst fears, the clown seems harmless so far. He would never hurt or intentionally scare a fly. Probably. Hmm, that sounds familiar. 

None the less, his mere presence is panic-inducing. Social media is freaking out. Brokelyn take on the news and our friends at New York's Intelligencer giggle about the very appropriate way Staten Island has reacted to this new clown, but you can sense their terror bubbling underneath the surface. Laughter is a fine and appropriate way to cope with trauma. The thought of encountering a stranger dressed as a clown late at night anywhere should raise some concern, but we can assure the people of Staten Island this guy is harmless, because we've seen this before. 

Last year, you may recall, the Northampton Clown was spotted with much more frequency wandering the local haunts giving out balloons. He was often seen during the day, in the bright sun, walking down the street and minding his own business. Or he would appear on a corner at night, with the same balloons, just waiting. For you. For anything. It was terrifying. No one knew who he was. The Northampton clown became a late-summer, pre-fall Internet phenomenon. The identity of the clown was shrouded in secrecy, until someone finally revealed the whole prank was part of a film student's project with a few friends. We did not forget about you, Northampton clown. Neither, it seems, did Staten Island. 




Who is behind the Staten Island Clown? That much remains a mystery, for now. The clown was spotted primarily by four people, two of whom appear to be friends, and one calls himself a comedian. Is one of them behind it? Possibly! If a comedian is involved in making something go "viral," people will fall for almost anything. Remember that "Diane in 7A" on the plane, or Jimmy Kimmel's twerking video, or Jimmy Kimmel's wolf in the Olympic hallway? In fact, we're just going to presume that all Internet jokes are Kimmel "pranks" until proven otherwise. Just seems easier than waiting for the inevitable let down.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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