There are two types of comedian . . . both deriving from the circus, which I shall call the White Face and the Red Nose. Almost all comedians fall into one or the other of these two simple archetypes. In the circus, the White Face is the controlling clown with the deathly pale masklike face who never takes a pie; the Red Nose is the subversive clown with the yellow and red makeup who takes all the pies and the pratfalls and the buckets of water and the banana skins. The White Face represents the mind, reminding humanity of the constant mocking presence of death; the Red Nose represents the body, reminding mankind of its constant embarrassing vulgarities. . . . The emblem of the White Face is the skull, that of the Red Nose is the phallus. One stems from the plague, the other from the carnival. The bleakness of the funeral, the wildness of the orgy. The graveyard and the fiesta. The brain and the penis. Hamlet and Falstaff. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Laurel and Hardy.
—Eric Idle, The Road To Mars, 1999.