Responding to a campaign by dissatisfied owners, the Acme Clown Car Company is recalling some of its cars. The vehicle recall affects clown cars in the prestigious Barnum & Bailey range, which rolled off the production line between the years 2007 and 2009.
“The cars suffer from a major flaw”, one owner, Joey, complained, making a sad face. “An unnerving tendency to drive in a straight line. Also the doors never fall off, and the engine simply refuses to explode in a shower of streamers and confetti”. Coco is another unhappy owner of a faulty clown car. “It’s about as funny as a dose of herpes”, he said, as he pretended to walk into an imaginary wind. “I don’t want a car that’s ‘ergonomic’ and ‘wind-tunnel tested’; I want a car that falls apart as soon as I turn the ignition key”.
Joseph Grimaldi, embattled CEO of the Acme Clown Car Company, agreed that there had been problems with the Barnum & Bailey range. “We had high hopes for the cars - you could have any colour you wanted, as long as it was yellow with pink polka-dots - but in tests they consistently failed to meet the CHT, the Clown Hilarity Threshold. In layman’s terms, they just weren't funny enough. OK, the hooters played Colonel Bogey, if you squeezed them in the right order. And they were economical to run: you'd get more than 50mpg on just one bucketful of custard. But the kids weren't laughing like they used to do.
"We’ve taken a lot of flack over this”, he admitted, pushing a tiny hat, with a flower sticking out, to the back of his head, “and it’s going to cost us an arm and a leg”. The Acme Clown Car Company is a long-established family firm, started by Joseph’s father, Otto, back in 1951, when he combined his love of whoopee cushions and whey-faced mime with a desire to make the finest clown cars that money could buy. But these are difficult times to be in the funny car business. "It's been hard", he acknowledged, "trying to keep all the balls in the air". And now, unsurprisingly, Joseph feels the weight of that paternal expectation. “He was a great man, my father, and these are big shoes to fill”. He looked down, despondently, the grease-paint starting to run. “Really big”...