‘Clown question, bro’ takes off, with a T-shirt, a beer and a trademark
Bryce Harper has trademarked the phrase "That’s a clown question, bro.”
June 25th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

‘Clown question, bro’ takes off, with a T-shirt, a beer and a trademark

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – You know a quote has entered the national lexicon when a major sports merchandise company plans to plaster it on T-shirts, it inspires a brand new beer and the Senate majority leader invokes it to respond to a reporter.

“That’s a clown question, bro,” Washington Nationals baseball phenom Bryce Harper told a Canadian reporter who earlier this month asked the 19-year-old about his favorite beer. Though the drinking age in Ontario is 19, Harper is a Mormon. His religion prohibits alcohol consumption.

Harper’s quip lit up the internet, becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Four other ways Harper’s one-liner has reached meme status:

1.) A brew in homage

When a friend sent Charlie Berger, brewer and co-founder of the Denver Beer Co., video of Harper’s Toronto remark, Berger knew right away that he wanted to turn Harper’s phrase into a beer.

“The very first thing I heard him say is ‘clown question, bro,’” Berger told CNN. And from that, the name of a new Canadian lager (inspired by the Toronto dateline of Harper’s quip) was born: “Clown Question, Bro.”

Denver Beer Co. started making the Canadian lager, which generally takes 28 days to brew, the day after the quip and plans to unveil it when Harper’s Washington Nationals face off against the Colorado Rockies on Monday.

“We are going to have all the bartenders wear clown noses when we tap this beer,” Berger said. “Normally we are not open on Mondays, but we decided we are going to have a Bryce Harper party at Denver Beer Co. We are encouraging everyone to wear clown costumes.”

Even though they will be drinking in Harper’s honor, Berger says he will be pulling for his Rockies.

2.) Clown questions at the highest level of the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid showed some pop culture prowess when he dropped the “clown question, bro” phrase last week.

When a reporter asked Reid on Wednesday about Republicans waiting for Mitt Romney to take a position on the DREAM Act – which would provide a permanent legal pathway for some children of illegal immigrants - before they commented on it, Reid dodged the question by appropriating Harper.

Reporter: On the DREAM Act – Mr. McConnell just said that he's waiting for Mitt Romney to say what his position is on the DREAM kids before he wants to comment. Wondering if you have any thoughts on him waiting for Mitt Romney, and also if you have any intention of bringing the DREAM Act to the floor for votes in the next couple of months to put people on record?

Reid: I don't wanna answer that question. That's a clown question, bro.

On top of the similarities between the two – both are Mormon and both are from southern Nevada – Reid called Harper “a good role model” in a Senate floor speech and even compared him to baseball great and Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.

Reid, who has season tickets to the Nationals, met Harper at a game last month.

3.) A phrase that pays

Just one day after Harper’s retort, on June 13, Harper trademarked “That’s a clown question, bro” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark database.

The trademark was filed under the “Goods & Services” field and, according to the database, applied to “wearing apparel, namely, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, pants, shorts, hats, visors, gloves, shoes.”

Once the trademark is exercised, Harper would presumably start cashing in on the phrase. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment, stating that the information was privileged. Which brings us to our next piece of meme evidence…

4.) Under Armour to print phrase on shirts

After Thursday’s Nationals game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Comcast SportsNet’s Kelli Johnson reported that Harper told her that Under Armour, a company that Harper has an endorsement deal with, plans to sell an official shirt with the “That’s a clown question, bro” phrase.

“Yesterday, Bryce Harper was wearing ‘That’s a clown question, bro’ T-shirt under his warm ups,” Johnson reported on Friday. “He is going to come out with his own line of shirts through Under Armor.”

Shirts with the Harper phrase had been popping up all over the internet.

Under Armour declined to respond to a CNN request for comment.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Mormonism • United States

soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Kaan

    I am also willing to give him a cnhace but so far, I think if the major issue in this world is solving the dilemma between Israel and Palestine, I have not liked what he has to say about it being all Hamas's fault, and wonder if anything will change. Personally, I feel we are all doomed if this situation is not fairly addressed. I agree with the other article, Jim, about the man who will be communicating in this direction.

    September 9, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  2. Jim

    People that trademark phrases uttered by other people make me sick. The brewery owner is profiting from an utterance of another person – is he sharing the profits with that person? I'm guessing . . . . no.

    July 14, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Jim

      Re-read the article, and I missed it – Harper TD'd his own phrase. My mistake.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • mr. butters

      The word Miracle is also commonly abused. There may be an accident that kills 200 people. But if one person survives everyone is happy to say God saved them and it is a miracle. Despite the fact God didn't save the 200 other people. When you overuse a word you reduce it's value. And if you see miracles left and right you will likely not even notice a true miracle if you get to witness one.

      July 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      a miracle is something that happens out side of nature and nothing happens with out nature consent, thus there is no such thing as a miracle . now if you slip on a banana peel fall up words than meet bunny pounding cheese on the moon, then drink wine with a caterpillar and dance the night away with a unicorn(rhinoceros) get back in time for tea by riding a shooting star then ill believe in Miracles

      July 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  4. shep

    A description of hell. A notorious con artist disgraces the Bible by using it to concoct a fake religion. Joey Smith, come on down!! Soon there will be Mormon deprogramming center in every town in the United States. After Romney is defeated, the United States will invade Utah and restore democracy. Thank you. Just doing God's work.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  5. .

    Good description of Hell. A bunch of devils dancing around making fun of good people and sacred things. Oh, excuse me. I didn't mean to spoil your fun! Dance on, devils!

    June 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  6. Mike

    Now I know the kid's a d-bag. How is a reporter supposed to know someone's religion? Also, if you're going to believe in something so asinine, be ready to take it on the chin occasionally.

    June 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Grace

      He might have been referring to the fact that he's only nineteen and thus too young to legally partake in postgame alcoholic consumption. But I think it's pretty well known that he's Mormon.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Jim

      If he was a real reporter, it would have been easy for him to find out. That is kind of his JOB.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  7. .

    I just have a question. If the phrase becomes a Trademark, wouldn't the beer company need permission before using it?

    June 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • gregmo

      A little reading comprehension indicates that the trademark applies only to apparel items. Unless you plan on wearing your beer, it should be OK.

      June 28, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  8. The Knight of God

    I think this might be bigger than I took an arrow to the knee (Why do I still giggle over that.... I'll never know...)

    June 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  9. whozits

    okay,what about the response flew over Denver Brewings little pin head? Honor a Mormon teen by developing a Canadian lager?!!!

    June 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Doctor Heinz Doofenshmirtz

      I think the idea is that a lot of beers will make Mormons more tolerable.

      June 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • gregmo

      Heaven's no!! I think I'll have another Polygamy Porter! 😉

      June 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  10. shep

    I hope Harper doesn't use his magic Mormon diaper to unfair advantage on the diamond.

    June 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  11. shep

    Are Mormons Christians? That's a clown question,bro. Will a Mormon ever be president? Same response.

    June 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  12. To Dan Merica

    This is a clown story bro'

    June 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  13. tommytee

    Man you are boring 'kindness'... Keep your preaching in church or to yourself! Young Mr Harper does not lack in ego or nerve I can say that. So he doesn't drink, big deal!

    June 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • The Knight of God


      That's a clown statement, bro

      June 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Grace

      A nineteen year old professional athlete with a a bit of an ego?? Shocking!
      A nineteen year old professional athlete who has made and is keeping a commitment not to partake is harmful substances? That's worth a little respect.

      July 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  14. kindness

    I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.

    HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
    of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
    free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
    has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
    but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
    fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
    displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
    life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
    For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
    philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
    except to love God and serve Him alone.

    This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
    world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
    honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
    things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
    to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
    not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
    to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
    hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
    yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
    and lose the grace of God.

    See for yourself.

    June 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
1 2 3
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.