Perhaps these are days when we need clowns more than ever. (Even the creepy kind.) If so, then people who make their livings in baggy, patched clothes, clumpy shoes, 10-foot handkerchiefs, and red noses have heeded the call.
New York is playing host to as many as 200 clowns from all over the world — meaning real professional buffoons, fools and jesters, not politicians — for the World Clown Association’s 2011 Annual Convention (NewsFeed could not make this kind of stuff up, people).
(More on TIME.com: See pictures of creepy clowns)
Ranging from men and women who perform at stadiums to those who visit infirm children in the hospital, the convention is bringing the funny folks under one roof for seminars like: Clown Costumes That Work; The History of American Clowning; and for the more faith-influenced, Clown Ministry, Makeup in Front of a Congregation.
If you’re in town, the balloon twisting, and miniature bicycle riding takes place at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel in Queens, NY until March 18.
(More on TIME.com: See the best pictures of the week)