Clown Injures Man, In Front of his Kids, during Circus Performance

Pennywise in the miniseries It was just the beginning...
Pennywise in the miniseries It was just the beginning…

*My husband is terrified of clowns. Phobic, in fact.   His “condition” even has a term: coulrophobia.

I put “condition” in quotation marks because I’ve never really understood it. I LOVE clowns. Always have. I religiously watched Bozo and Oopsy the Clowns on TV growing up in Detroit.  I spent my childhood hoping a clown would show up at one of my birthday parties. Never happened.

ANYWAY, with a husband who screams like a bitch whenever a clown pops up on TV, avoids McDonalds like the plague, and wouldn’t stream the movie It to save his life, I’m always looking for warm and fuzzy clown stories to help him feel better about them.

This ain’t one of those stories.

A father of three, who took two of his girls to the circus for the very first time, says he’s lucky to be alive after a clown’s trick went horribly wrong.

Ben Garnham, 37, from Wales, a self-employed DJ was picked out of the circus crowd by the clown, Ben Coles. Garnham was to be lifted and spun in the air at the touring Circus Zyair.

It is important to note here that Garnham did not sign a disclaimer.

Garnham said the clown asked him to push his hands against his legs as he attempted to hoist him in the air.

That’s when things get a little foggy for Garnham.

“From what I remember,” Garnham said, “he didn’t explain what he was actually going to do. He said ‘Push against the back of my legs’ and that was the last thing I really remember. It looked like a wrestling move.”

“I just thought he was going to pretend to do something but not actually do it to get a laugh,” Garnham continued. “I thought he was just going to squirt me with water or something.”

According to audience members, the attempt to lift Garnham resulted in his body slamming against the floor, and him being rendered unconscious. To the crowd’s horror, the clown signaled for help.

Reports say that Garnham was moved by three members of the circus’ staff — despite the fact that he could have been paralyzed — and that there were no paramedics on site. An ambulance was called after trained first responders, who happened to be in the crowd, came to his assistance.

“I was unconscious right until they put me behind the curtain,” Garnham continued. “They lifted me out and I was manhandled — they could’ve paralyzed me for life. I wouldn’t have seen the funny side if I was paralyzed from the neck down or if I was dead.”

Methinks a lawsuit is coming, no?

Garnham suffered no serious injuries, although he was fitted with a neck brace (makes for a good photo op), spent four hours in the hospital, suffered a small cut on the back of his head, swelling on the left side of his face, and complained of a pounding headache.

The circus and Coles the Clown have offered Garnham a full refund…


…and complimentary tickets for his family to see the touring show at a later date.

Something tells me Garnham will be looking for a little more than that.

“Oh my God,” he says. “It was just such a shock. I’m so lucky. I could’ve died or been paralyzed.”

Not surprisingly at all, the circus has not responded to requests for comment.

And the “see-I-told-you-so” look has not left my husband’s face since I showed him this story.


This blog was written by freelance writer Michael P Coleman. He still loves clowns — although he admits he has never read Stephen King’s It nor seen the movie adaptation. Connect with him at or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP.

2 thoughts on “Clown Injures Man, In Front of his Kids, during Circus Performance”

  1. First Victim of Penny Wise the clown, was named, “Georgie”… So, I’m out!

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