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Domesticated Clowns refers to a series of posts on Tumblr which role play as pet care blogs offering advice on how to take care of "pet clowns" as though clowns were an exotic animal.
While the origin of these types of posts is murky, Meme Documentation  points out that while jokes about clowns have a long history and there are several potential precursors to the meme, a post by kouha on July 29th, 2017 which includes the phrase "mimes are to clowns as dogs are to wolves" inspired the trend of the Domesticated Clown posts (shown below). The post gained over 73,000 notes.
In reblogs of the post, people contributed their theories on the analogy, which began blending the idea that clowns were exotic animals. On July 31st, 2017, Tumblr user peculiar-little-rabbit added a comment that said "Clowns are actually the watered down, domesticated funny makers to the raw stylings of mimes." This sparked further dialogue on the post, including reblogs by Tumblr user aviculor which stated:
You look at a mime and tell me that doesn’t have the raw, untamed energy of a wolf. The clown is the tamed household one, colorful and designed to warm hearts and bring chuckles and entertain. But a mime…..that is something savage and unbridled from the wilderness. You ask a mime to make you laugh and it will go for the jugular. Not to say a clown is unable to go feral, just the opposite. It’s just that approaching a mime in its natural habitat without due respect, expecting it to be the same creature as your auntie’s pedigree purebred Bozo, will be the last mistake you ever make.
A reblog of the post by bramblepatch took the joke further on August 1st, writing:
Clowns… clearly show the hallmarks of a domesticated creature, and like dogs, a domesticated creature with incredible variety within the population, from sturdy working types such as the rodeo clown, to ancient show types with well-defined breed standards such as the various characters of the commedia dell'arte, to social companion types such as birthday clowns.
As the post spread, others joined in the discourse by creating text posts centering around the joke that clowns are exotic animals. For example, a post by canneddog which talked about "declawing clowns" gained over 21,000 notes (shown below, top). User severalowls created a Starter Pack for people who "probably shouldn't have clowns" that gained over 68,000 notes (shown below, bottom).
severalowls later added lengthy ground rules for taking care of a pet clown, written in parody of animal care guides. For example, one of the ground rules reads:
Clowns are creatures that need to clown. They were not meant to be domesticated and profited from as pets. They are highly active creatures that will self harm from stress in such confined spaces. Circus Clowns are delightful to keep in groups, though they are fine on their own, but every 1 clown adds 30 square feet to the space needed. They need multiple props and performance areas in order to replicate their natural environment. These are examples of proper Circus Clown or other basic clown enclosures.
Meme Documentation covered the spread of these posts on September 21st, 2017.
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