This circus clown shown in an ad for a Buffalo, New York printing concern around the turn of the 20th century is typical of whiteface circus clowns of the day. The whiteface clown was usually the troop leader, directing other clowns in various designs of white, red, yellow, black and blue makeup in a variety of gags and skits. The staple of the circus clown is parody. Nothing is sacred in the clown's standard repertoire including marriage, race or gender relations. The highly ambiguous nature of the clown's standard makeup allowed the audience to treat this potentially inflammatory fare as purely imaginary rather than a depiction of reality. In this sense, clowns floated freely between male and female roles, sending up the hopes, dreams and desires of both men and women equally.