"Put On A Happy Face" by Christopher Golden
This story comes from the collection "Tell M Sorrows To The Stones" written by Christopher Golden.
This story was about a clown named Benny. He had always wanted to be a clown. He was always the funny one growing up and always tried to make people laugh. He grew up doing acts for his mother who thought he was the funniest person alive. (What mother doesn't think their kid is the best?)
When the Macintosh Traveling Circus Troupe came to town in Corriveau, Vermont, Benny went every day without fail. After the circus he would go and talk to the clowns. Eventually they invited to the backstage to hang out after the show. After hanging out with clowns for a few days he asked them to take him on for an apprenticeship. Soon he had word from the circus manager that they would accept him and put him on probation.
He earned a spot in the troupe, but was always the low man on the totem pole. He didn't get nearly the laughs that a couple of the other clowns received. Nothing he did could improve his comedy enough to gain any notoriety. There just didn't seem to be anything left to do accept that he would never amount to anything he dreamed of or quit the troupe.
One day Benny is walking around the circus grounds and stumbles upon an old bus. The bus had been repurposed and turned into a bookstore. Going inside the bus he met the owner of the bookstore and started up a conversation. She said she had something for everyone and after looking around he spotted a book he had to have and bought it after a short haggle.
The book was about Giovanni Tovolo a retired Italian clown. He had to retire after an accident that claimed sixteen lives. The book described how Tovolo was wanting more laughter during his shows and always struggled with anxiety about his own talents. Then one day another performer at the circus taught him how to summon a spirit, the patron of clowns.
If your into clowns, carnivals, or circuses, you'll like this story. This was a carniepunk story at it's heart. Horror was more the wrapper of the carniepunk. Picture an Oreo cookie: carniepunk would be the creamy filling and the cookie would be the horror.
This story is quite the show in all senses of the words. You get to see what happens when shows go right and when they go wrong. How wrong can a show go? That depends on what you do and what you want out of the show.
The characters were ok in this story. Not as developed as I would of liked. The characters were a bit two dimensional. Benny being the most fleshed out character, he was the main character after all. Even Benny with all the backstory didn't seem to be that deep of a character.