Public relations, constructing sets, striking sets and serving as standby talent backstage are some duties of circus clowns. Clowns typically design, make or buy props as required for various skits and gags.
The circus is a business, and clowns are the public face of the business. Clowns generally represent the circus during interactions with the public outside the actual big-top performance. This includes clowning at special community events, school shows and hospital visits. Clowns also conduct interviews with the media, such as in-studio radio interviews, television shows and telephone interviews.
As a circus travels, the clowns help with erecting the tents and sets, and they strike the set when it is time to move on. This entails "loading-out" and "loading-in," which requires approximately four to six hours of work each time, in each city. Clowns also unpack and pack all their own stage props. The team of clowns at a circus is responsible for the care and safe transport of props in large wooden prop boxes.
Clowns are the backbone of the circus's acts. If an unexpected glitch in a performance occurs, the clowns immediately appear and entertain the audience while their colleagues smooth over the glitch. "Send in the clowns" is an old theater and circus expression that refers to this.