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Send in the Clowns

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Clowns
Written by Stephen Sondheim
Date 1973
Source A Little Night Music (musical)
Publisher Revelation Music Publ. Corp.; Rilting Music, Inc.

"Send in the Clowns," from the Stephen Sondheim musical A Little Night Music, is a ballad about the ironies of unrequited love. The title is a reference to the practice of using clowns to distract an audience from an accident or a bad act, whether in the circus, the theater, or the rodeo; in this case, the singer calls on the metaphorical clowns to provide distraction from her disastrous love life.

Originally performed on Broadway by Glynis Johns, the song has since become Sondheim's biggest hit and has been performed by the likes Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor (in the film), Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Millicent Martin, Louise Gold, Judi Dench, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Bernadette Peters.

Judy Collins, whose rendition of "Send in the Clowns" landed on the pop charts twice in the 1970s, performed the song on episode 205 of The Muppet Show while full-bodied Muppet clowns performed behind her. A clip from this appearance was used in the Broadway revue Sondheim on Sondheim to kick off a video montage that strung together a number of YouTube clips of professionals and amateurs singing the song, often to humorous effect.

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