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What is an Auguste?

Posted on 26th October 2014
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What is an Auguste Circus Clown?

Clown Logo of Karnival Costumes your Halloween specialists for Fancy Dress and Costume AccessoriesAn ‘Auguste’ performs with all of the clowns in the circus and he, or she, is the foolish character who is always on the receiving end of the seemingly endless buckets of water and custard pies. The Auguste often works with the cleverer white-faced clown the smart and perfectly dressed of the troop, who always manages gets the better of him.
So where did the unusual name ‘Auguste’ come from? Well in 1869, an American acrobat called Tom Belling was working for Circus Renz in Berlin Germany. Banned from performing through being incompetent because of this drinking and with nothing else to do, he was generally making a fool of himself outside of the ring entrance. At the time he was wearing a Ringmaster’s costume inside out and had in his head a ginger wig which he was wearing backwards.
Unfortunately for him, he was spotted by the circus owner, Herr Renz who shoved Tom through the curtains directly into the circus ring where he landed in an undignified heap. The element of surprise combined with his own efforts to scramble to his feet and hi-tail it out of the ring led to howls of laughter from the audience and shouts of ‘Auguste, Auguste’ from the crowd. The shouts were Berliner slang for “clumsy clot” and it is this name that has stuck in circus clowning circles to describe the clown who wears the colourful but badly fitting clothes and who continually gets into trouble as the butt of all of the jokes but he never loses and in the end he always triumphs.
The most famous Auguste of modern times has to be Coco the Clown, the creation of Nicolai Poliakoff OBE, a life-long Auguste whose life as a performer began at the age of 3 with him playing a little girl, in one performance he lost his wig and when he went back on stage to collect it the audience began laughing and he cites this as the first occasion of making the public laugh. He literally ran away to the circus at the age of 7 when he joined a Russian based Italian troop learning a number of circus skills and completing his apprenticeship at the age of eleven. Developing his own recognisable make-up style, the name Coco is derived from the Spanish ‘Cocos’ the word for ‘grinning face’ and from which coconuts are named because of their three marks on the shell.  
So if you’re planning to wear a circus clown fancy dress for your next costume party, you’ll be able to choose between being either a clown or an Auguste like Coco. And at Karnival Costumes, we have lots of clown or Auguste costumes for you to choose from as well as lots of clowning equipment and costume make-up, along with some simple to follow make-up instructions, for you so that you can complete the look perfectly. And remember, slapstick will never die! 
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