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Send in the clowns...

CHAMPAIGN -- They're known for being colorful and making you smile and laugh, but clowns are becoming part of a dying breed throughout the country.
CHAMPAIGN -- They're known for being colorful and making you smile and laugh, but clowns are becoming part of a dying breed throughout the country. The World Clown Association says, since 2004, their numbers have gone down by 28%. They blame things like an aging population, higher standards for the job and a decrease in popularity. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau finds out what it takes to be a clown and why they think there's a shortage.

"It isn't just making people laugh. It's such a combination of things. It's your character, your integrity. I've never missed anything. I did get stopped by a policeman and been late, but I've never missed a party."

Nina Moore's been on the job more than 15 years. You may actually know her better as Joy the Clown.

"Mostly I do, of course, birthday parties. I do surprise visits to adults. It just seems certain days I get so many calls and you just can't do it and I don't have anyone anymore that I can recommend."

That's because clowns are leaving the profession and fewer people are joining.

"Oh, I hate to see any art dying."

Nina has her thoughts why things are headed the way they are.

"Dedication, time, money and then there's the training. It isn't a money-maker, because of what you put out, you just paid 25 - 35 dollars for a magic act and the kid at the birthday party broke it. It just happens and that's just part of the biz."

It's a business which can also get a bad reputation from the movies.

"We have it, we have all these scary movies that depict clowns, not in a loving manner anyway and certainly not talented in any way."

Clowns get paid about $300 for a birthday party, but that doesn't even cover their costumes. Joy's shoes alone were more than $400.

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