Be a Clown

The Nicholas Brothers, Gene Kelly

About Be a Clown

"Be a Clown" is a song written by Cole Porter for the 1948 film The Pirate. The song was performed twice in the film: first by Gene Kelly and The Nicholas Brothers and then at the end of the film by Kelly and Judy Garland. It was also sung in Mickey's Fun Songs: Let's Go To The Circus although some of the lyrics were changed. The song was featured in an episode of Land of the Giants and also in the 2004 film De-Lovely. The song "Make 'Em Laugh" (by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed) in the film Singin' in the Rain appears to be very similar to "Be a Clown," although Cole Porter did not make a complaint. Both films were Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions and starred Kelly, who appeared in (but did not sing) the "Make 'Em Laugh" segment of the latter film in which the song was performed by Donald O'Connor. 


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I'll remember forever
When I was but three
Mama, who was clever
Remarking to me
If son when you're grown up
You want everything nice
I've got your future sewn up
If you take this advice

Be a clown, be a clown
All the world loves a clown
Act the fool, play the calf
And you'll always have the last laugh

Wear the cap and the bells
And you'll rate with all the great swells
If you become a doctor, folks'll face you with dread
If you become a dentist, they'll be glad when you're dead
You'll get a bigger hand if you can stand on your head
Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown

Be a clown, be a clown
All the world loves a clown
Show 'em tricks, tell 'em jokes
And you'll only stop with top folks

Be a crack Jackanapes
And they'll imitate you like apes
Why be a great composer with your rent in arrears
Why be a major poet and you'll owe it for years
When crowds'll pay to giggle if you wiggle your ears
Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown

Be a clown, be a clown
All the world loves a clown
If you just make 'em roar
Watch your Mounte bank account soar

Wear a painted mustache
And you're sure to make a big splash
A college education I should never propose
A bachelor's degree won't even keep you in clothes
But millions you will win if you can spin on your nose
Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown

Give 'em quips, give 'em fun
And they'll happy to say you're A-1
If you become a farmer you've the weather to buck
If you become a gambler you'll be stuck with your luck
But Jack you'll never lack if you can quack like a duck
Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown

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Gene Kelly

Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly (August 23, 1912 – February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer. Kelly was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks and the likeable characters that he played on screen. more »

2 fans

Written by: COLE PORTER

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

10 facts about this song

Song Composition
"Be a Clown" is a popular song composed by Cole Porter. Porter is considered one of the greatest contributors to the Great American Songbook.
The song was famously performed by renowned actors-dancers Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, among others. Kelly is well-known for his innovations in the film industry regarding dance, and Garland is internationally recognized for her distinctive, powerful voice.
Film Debut
"Be a Clown" was featured for the first time in the 1948 film, "The Pirate," produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The song was re-worked into "Make 'em Laugh," which was used in the 1952 musical film "Singin' in the Rain," also starring Gene Kelly. This sparked controversy surrounding the originality of "Make 'em Laugh."
During the song's performance in "The Pirate," Judy Garland, known for her vocal abilities, reportedly does an excellent job lip-synching to Gene Kelly's singing.
Inspirational Quotes
The lyrics of "Be a Clown" are often quoted in discussions on performance and the entertainment industry. The line, "If you become a dentist, you'll be glad, you'll be a success, But if you get an ulcer, you'll know darn well you're a dentist, not a success," is particularly famous.
Song Meaning
"Be a Clown" is generally regarded as a self-reflexive song about the entertainment industry, examining the gratification and burdens of being a performer.
Despite having been initially overshadowed by other songs in the film, "Be a Clown" is now recognized for its complex choreography and is considered a staple in the Classical Hollywood song-and-dance genre.
Cover Versions
Over the years, "Be a Clown" has been covered by various artists. It has been performed in many different languages, reinforcing its universal popularity.
The song was revived in the late 1960s and incorporated into a medley by Judy Garland for her television series "The Judy Garland Show."

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