Now we know why they have to be funny…

Clowns have breasts but no milk

by Jennifer Ball

Meaning: foolish laugh cry
Characteristics crinkly eyes, funny face crinkly eyes, open mouth  open eyes, teardrop, open mouth




笨 = stupid; foolish; silly; slow-witted; clumsy

笑 = laugh, smile

哭 = to cry, to weep

Can you see the relationship of the above words? They are a kind of face.

本 = roots or stems of plants; origin; source; this; the current; root; foundation; basis; (a measure word)


The cause of laughter is generally foolishness (note that the 本 ben3 character at the root of 笨 ben4). From years of doing theater, I have discovered that the underpinnings of comedy are people falling down and men in women’s clothing: both of these describe young children. Children were the world’s first clowns. This can be seen in Chinese:

丑 = clown

妞 = little girl

母 = mother

Structurally, these three characters resemble each other. They seem to represent breasts (this is acknowledged by the “experts” in the case of 母 mu3 “mother,” and one can perceive dots of “fluid” inside the shapes representing breasts for the word “mother”). Just like a man in woman’s clothing is funny, a man with breasts and no milk in them is a clown, and this is clear by comparing the three similar characters:

(no milk) (no milk) (milk)

女 +丑= 妞

Note that “female” + “clown” = “little girl”—this is because only a little girl would have breasts and no fluid. Anyone else with breasts and no fluid is a clown. At least according to written Chinese.

Chinese characters and definitions from: