Watch Stephen Colbert's Defense of 'Innocent' Clowns

'Late Show' host weighs in on hoax paranoia

Stephen Colbert weighed in on the recent wave of clown-related panic.

Stephen Colbert prefaced a segment on The Late Show on Wednesday night with a warning: "Parents may want to send kids out of the room," he said somberly. "And then leave the room yourself." Colbert addressed the alleged creepy clown-sightings reported in South Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Georgia and New Jersey by defending the hard-working clown community. 

"All the coverage of these hoaxes has lead to copycat creepy clowns," Colbert noted. "The professional clowns worry that they'll become targets of vigilantes." His segment culminates with a "Save the Clowns" PSA with actual clowns. "Clowns are people too," one clown said. "If you prick us, we bleed." Another added: "Now I'm afraid women might think the idea of sex with me is creepy."

The clown paranoia started August 21st in South Carolina. At the time, officials responded to multiple reports of clown activity, but were unable to find any culprits. The frenzy spread to other states and then to college campuses: York College reportedly received eight separate reports of clown activity on September 24th and this week, reports of a clown presence at Pennsylvania State University and Belmont University caused student protests. Again, no clowns were found.

Colbert asked for empathy during tense times. "I feel for these clowns," he said. "They're just trying to entertain us – they shouldn't have to answer for the actions of a few insane posses."

Clowns have been spotted lurking in woods from South Carolina to upstate New York. Find out more about the hoax sweeping America.