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People are apt to overanalyze coulrophobia, though they can come up with interesting reasons. Kathryn Cillick at Phobialist came up with this explanation:
I have a theory about the reason for fearing clowns that I thought I would suggest to you. Because clowns have permanent, exaggerated expressions painted on their faces - usually of joy but not always, it renders the observer impotent in measuring facial expression as a precursor of action and for those who are vigilant about their environment, possibly because of past traumatic events, they are unable to interpret and therefore predict what this creature may do to them. This is heightened when we observe the "happy" clown performing some aggressive behavior - it becomes too much to take - creating intense confusion and fear. I donít know if this is the reason - simply my first thoughts on a very intriguing subject.
If youíre afraid of clowns, youíre not alone: anti-clown celebrities include rapper P. Diddy, Johnny Depp, Carol Burnett and Anthony Bourdain.