Example: [Los Angeles Times, 1994]
One of the prevailing urban myths among '60s Southern California youth was that, on one televised Bozo show, things got out of hand. A child playing Bozo Buckets reputedly accompanied a missed shot with a choice swear word. To which Bozo replied, "That's a Bozo
- The city in which the show took place varies, with Chicago and Boston being the two most frequently mentioned.
- The contest at which the child contestant failed also varies; versions include the youngster's losing at a ping pong ball toss, a ball-in-bucket game, a block-building contest, an egg race, and even a quiz.
- The tyke's retort to Bozo's attempt to console him is said to be one of "Cram it, clown!"; "Ram it, clownie"; "Fuck off, clown!"; and even "Right here, Bozo!" (while pointing at his crotch).
The legend has been advanced as true in recent years by none other than Larry Harmon, the purported creator of Bozo and the original portrayer of the red-haired clown on television. Harmon claimed in a 1996 article (the year that marked the fiftieth anniversary of Bozo's creation) that the "Cram it!" incident occurred while he was producing Boston's local Bozo the Clown show "in the early sixties," and he reiterated the same claim a few years later for a TV Guide piece on television legends:
It took place during a game, Bozo's Treasure Chest, which boasted a huge cache of toys as a prize. "One day this young, underprivileged kid was competing and his eyes were as big as saucers looking at those toys," Harmon recalls. The boy had to toss three Ping-Pong balls into a barrel. He landed the first two, but missed the third. The show's ringmaster said to the boy, "You're never a loser on the Bozo show, you're just an almost-winner," and handed him a Bozo towel as a consolation prize. "The kid looks at the towel," Harmon says, "he looks at the ringmaster, then looks at Bozo and says, 'Cram it, clown!'" Bozo's response? "That's a Bozo
This legend is plausible in that most of the Bozo shows were broadcast live, and thus an incident like this could have made it onto the air. Moreover, the Boston Bozo program was syndicated to markets that didn't have their own Bozo show, which could account for people in several different cities all reportedly having seen the same thing. (As well, this isn't the type of incident whose non-appearance in media reports would be surprising; a tot acting up on a local children's TV show isn't exactly big news.) Nonetheless, the legend appears to have originated around 1964 or 1965, spread by word of mouth and (like the apocryphal Uncle Don remark) eventually
Additional information: The RealAudio sound clip below is a "recreation" of this legend from a 1960s bloopers record.
Last updated: 5 August 2007
Beckerman, Jim. "Yo! Bozo! Are You Having Fun Yet?" The [Bergen County] Record. 30 September 1996 (p. Y1). Brunvand, Jan Harold. "Just Clowning Around, These Legends Create a Real Bozo!" The San Diego Union-Tribune. 8 October 1987 (p. D2). Mitchell, Sean. "TV Confidential." TV Guide. 25 July 1998 (p. 16). Roeper, Richard. "We Cheer As Movie Thumbs Nose at Clowns." Chicago Sun-Times. 12 March 1992 (p. 11). Washburn, Jim. "Wowie Kazowee — She Is Bonkers for Bozo." Los Angeles Times. 29 November 1994 (p. E1). Wolf, Buck. "Who Is the Original Bozo?" ABCNEWS.com (The Wolf Files).
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