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‘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. lindaluttrell

    Clowns everywhere are now being perceived as idiots! Where is the ACLU when you need them?

    June 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Boppo the Freedom Fighter Clown

      We at the American Clown Liberation Underground, formerly the People's Front of Judea, have begun un unstoppable campaign to rid the world of such bigotry and oppression! You will soon hear of us daily, you oppressors of normality! However, underground operations such as these have serious logistical challenges, such as figuring out how to get the bomb vest onto Twinkles the Dancing Poodle, then get all of us into the clown car.

      But you will feel our wrath and revenge real soon, any day now, probably, yeah, definitely pencil it in for real soon.

      June 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  2. Fiona

    Love the beer adaptation, and the marketing plan. Clown costumes...major coverage.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Nietzsche

      You love this? You're kidding right?

      June 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  3. A-Train

    Did anybody TM "Pants on the ground"? I think this comment will have less shelf-life than that did. Catchy song though.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  4. johnfrichardson

    Fear the Grand Clown Inquisitor! Fear him! FEAR HIM!!!

    June 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  5. n222s

    Which of the following options best describe the four statements directly following the options.

    – a+c are correct because bigotry against Mormons is okay. b+d are racist, bigoted statements because, well, because.
    – a+b+c+d are all examples of bigoted statements by a troll.
    – Anyone who makes similar a,b,c,d statements against any religion needs to get a life and let people worship as they see fit. They should also put on some pants over their underwear while sitting in their Mom's basement because they are starting to smell.

    a)The only Mormon I like is the ones who have left to church and found a new life. I applaud them.
    b)The only Muslim I like is the ones who have left to church and found a new life. I applaud them.
    c)All Mormons should be mocked incessantly.
    d)All Muslims should be mocked incessantly.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  6. Make it make sense

    A beer named for an underage Mormon's quip is in bad taste start to finish. As a brewer myself I do not find it particularly responsible to name a beer after a minor or as a cash cow from a notable minor's remarks.

    Regarding the filed TM, I expect that it will not stand. Forms of the phrase 'Clown Question' are not unique nor have they been for years.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • DJM

      Harper is not a minor. He's over 18. He's an adult. He is under the legal drinking age in the United States, but as has been point out time and time again, the question was asked in Toronto, Ontario Canada, where the legal drinking age is 19 (in Quebec it's 18).

      June 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Settle down Francis

      So, are you having that rather large stick that is up your butt surgically removed or do you enjoy sitting on it?

      June 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  7. catsnake

    Has society become so lame that some dorky saying makes in into the news and becomes famous? Who gives a crap. it's not exactly a genius quote. not funny or meaningful. religious people are always dorks. just think flanders.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Calling someone a clown is Christian?

    "His religion prohibits alcohol consumption."

    Obviously it doesn't prohibit sarcastic, snide, insulting remarks, though... Oh wait – it does – he's just a typical Hypocritical Christian, that's all.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • ajburne

      Mormons and Christians are not the same thing. And yes, we are all hypocrites, but some of us try not to be.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • BILLY

      he didnt call anyone a clown.. he said the question was a clown question.. besides, being christian doesnt exempt you from being able to call someone a name.. get real

      June 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gota love the religious type trying to justify their hypocrisy.

      June 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • dave

      I don't know about all Christians = but Christ drank and made wine

      June 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  9. n222s

    You do know the kid (seen in pics of him by the pool) has his own autograph tattooed down the full side of his torso. That's a clown tat bro'.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • ajburne

      haha...nice

      June 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  10. Riz

    The guy took it from a high school teammate. Real original. The dude knows clown questions because....he's a clown.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  11. Billy Z

    I have 25000 "He dropped the Chaluppa!" t-shirts in all sizes if anyone wants to buy a few!

    June 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  12. GianCarlo

    Let me re-phrase that. The only Mormon I like is that who has left the church and has found a new life. I applaud them for their courage.

    June 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Wonka

      You like being a bigot on the internet? That is so interesting, I'd like to hear more.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  13. John

    "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." -Awesome. Calling Harper a good role model, then comparing him to Mantle, a longtime alcoholic and decidedly not good role model.

    June 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mikey

      LOL. Also – is he then saying that if you drink beer you a lousy person?

      June 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Pepper

      Glad I'm not the only one to catch this.

      June 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Chris

      LOL! Good one John!

      June 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Wow

      Oh, you are right! Not only an alcoholic, but had many marital infidelities. Even brought both his wife and his mistress to his retirement ceremony. By his own admission had been cruel to family and friends.

      Great role model.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • cedaly1968

      Yeah, I was wondering about the reference to Mickey Mantle. He might have been better off with Cal Ripken Jr. Just sayin'

      June 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Doug

      I haven't seen the full text of Reid's comments, but my guess is that he called Harper a good role model, and then compared his baseball abilities to Mantle.

      June 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  14. GianCarlo

    The only Mormon I like is the ones who have left to church and found a new life. I applaud them.

    June 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  15. dave

    I have heard good things about Mr. Harper. I do not understand why he thinks all reporters should know his religious affiliation or why he thinks it is proper for him to act out the way he did. MAybe he does not drink as part of a religious conviction, but didn't he skip out on his 2 year missionary requirement to play baseball??

    If wine was good enough for Jesus Christ, I am not too concerned with the opinion of Joseph Smith or his followers.

    Mr. Harper were you treating the reporter the way you would like to be treated yourself?

    June 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • ljheidel

      Did you see the interview? The guy was practically harassing Harper to get him to say, "oh, yeah, I love to pound some Silver Bullets with the boys after the game!" Harper was insulted, and I think he was actually restrained in his response.

      June 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mikey

      Then all he had to say from the get go was "I am a Mormon and therefore don't drink alcohol". That was hard.....

      June 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • OARFNY

      The reporter was scting like a 2 year old. Harper was incredulous that anybody could be that juvenile. Another indication that journalism, even sports, is now worthless.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • ajburne

      lol...it was a clown question because who the heck cares about his favorite beer? If you have the opportunity to ask a question, why say, "umm...what's your favorite beer?"

      June 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Calling someone a clown is Christian?

      "...who the heck cares about his favorite beer?"

      OMG – do NOT let the advertising companies hear you! They've kind of built their entire industry around getting us to worry about the favorite brands of famous people. And don't let the public know that they're not supposed to be interested in the lives of celebrities – because if they found out – there wouldn't BE celebrities anymore!

      Or then again, life could go on as normal, and idiots like yourself will still spout illogical inanities, and we'll still laugh at them.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Catherine

      I kind of agree, Harper is rude. Does he think he is so facinating that everyone knows his religious beliefs and what he had for breakfast? Then to cash in on his rudeness. Is there any wonder why many think many pro sports figures are rude, obnoxious prima donnas? He couldn't just say, no, I'm Mormon and that isn't something I would do? He parents could have done a better job teaching him manners.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  16. thomas

    Rational Libertarian, please post your address so I can come to your home for you to mock me incessantly.

    June 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Your great prophet was a con man. He wa arrested in 1827 (around then anyway, I'm far too lazy to do any research) for fraudulent activity. He clearly just wanted to have large amounts of s.exual partners.

      Obviously, all religious people have mental problems, but at least with the mainstream monotheisms, they're difficult to prove false because of their age. However, it would take someone of severe mental retardation to be a Mormon, somewhere on the Scientology scale of retardation.

      See, the internet gives me the comfort of mocking you without having to give you my address. Anyway, for insurance purposes, I can't have Mormons, gays or Zoroastrians on my property.

      June 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Praying is not healthy for a sound mind

    Awsome, the Mormon is going to help promote beer!!! How fitting.

    June 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • dave

      The healthy don't mind a sound prayer

      June 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Tony

      no, he has nothing to do with the beer company.. read the article

      June 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  18. The Horrific Assault of the Four Fluffly Kittens of the Apocalypse (after a nice light snack and a nap)

    Mormon comes up with shallow insipid cliche that only morons like TheCapitalist will use. Beer company likes it. Lame sound byte and bred in stupidity. Expected half-life even shorter than "don't touch my junk."

    Yeah, this is earth-shaking religious news. Thanks to Dan Merica and CNN for having the keen journalistic instincts to expose the world to this masterpiece of fluffle.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I still break out "don't touch my junk" on special occasions. That's pure genius.

      June 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • The Horrific Assault of the Four Fluffly Kittens of the Apocalypse (after a nice light snack and a nap)

      That's fine. Just understand that it has achieved leisure suit levels of obsolescence.

      So put on your leisure suit and dance the macarena and be groovy, man!

      June 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I must protest at the implication of myself as a leisure suit wearer. I'm more of a Sergio Georgini kind of guy.

      June 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • The Horrific Assault of the Four Fluffly Kittens of the Apocalypse (after a nice light snack and a nap)

      We're more Sergio Leone kind of kittens.

      But ooooooo, is that REAL naugahyde on your Sergio Georgini jacket?

      June 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      No naugahyde. Pure polyurethane.

      I like being called a Sergio Leone kitten though, just don't offend my mule.

      June 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Leisure suit Lary

      Leisure suits are obsolete? Since when???

      June 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  19. Rational Libertarian

    All Mormons should be mocked incessantly.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • John Compton

      ...the same way folks of all religions should be mocked

      June 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • RP

      If I thought you were worth mocking for some reason I would. Those that get mocked apparently are some sort of threat to those mocking them. Tell us all how are you threatened by Mormons. Afraid that Romney will be president???

      June 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'd prefer Romney to Santorum, although I'd prefer Obama to Romney. I'd prefer Gary Johnson over the lot, but I haven't seen any pigs flying lately.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Mormons threaten my civil rights

      Mormons threaten my civil rights and you want to know why I feel threatened?

      How many of my rights should they be able to take away from me before you'll let allow me to feel threatened?

      June 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Sam

      Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument; You

      June 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  20. Bet

    Tomorrow there will be another quip trending, another t-shirt order, and another old white guy in Washington DC using said quip in an effort to sound relevant.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:38 am |
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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.