Ha! Ha! Said The Clown

Album: Mighty Garvey! (1967)
Charted: 4

Songfacts®:

  • This song does not take place at a circus: the "clown" is a stand-up comedian and the setting is a comedy club where he is performing. "The protagonist goes to a club to cheer himself up," songwriter Tony Hazzard told Songfacts. "While he's there he's excited by a girl on the dance floor and starts to chat her up. He thinks he's getting somewhere and then his excitement is deflated by her announcement that she's married to the comedian who then, in turn, laughs at him in the chorus."
  • The Yardbirds covered this later the same year and reached #45 on the US charts.
  • This was written by the English singer/songwriter Tony Hazzard, who also wrote Manfred Mann's "Fox On The Run."

    "The premise of the song is about someone who makes people laugh, having the last laugh," Hazzard said in his Songfacts interview. "It reminded me of a situation I'd heard about in my teens where two guys were arguing about who should go out with a particular girl and then I came along and beat them to it. No direct connection, of course, but that's what sometimes happens in songwriting: it's the flavor rather than the reality."
  • Musically, there's a lot going on in this song. The flute sounds were created by group leader Manfred Mann using a Mellotron, which could play tape loops of actual instruments. The big drum beats came from a tympani.

    When Tony Hazzard wrote the song and made his original demo (which can be heard on the album Tony Hazzard Sings Tony Hazzard, it a Hungarian dance flavor with lots of percussive elements that carried over to the recording. Hazzard told us: "I was into odd times signatures at the time, like 5/4 and 7/8, and also inserting odd bars of 3/4 and 2/4 in a 4/4 song but in a way where the listener barely noticed because it sounded perfectly natural. This is one of those songs. The other feature is the epigramatic style with a (hopeful) economy of phrase: I've tried not to waste words."
  • On internet transcriptions of the lyrics, the line, "Is the night being tight on romance" was often rendered as "Is the knight being tight on romance," making it sound like the song had something to do with a chess piece or a character of medieval nobility. The line actually asks, "Is the evening depriving you of your (hoped-for) romance?", with "tight" meaning "tight-fisted." The saying is common in the UK, but was misinterpreted by many listeners elsewhere.

Comments: 3

  • Joseph from Grand Forks, NdThis was also done by the Yardbirds a couple of months after Manfred Mann. Great song.
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaI have an irrational fear of clowns...my dad alwys plays this song
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumA very good song with a good beat.
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