I watched a lot of silent directors who were absolutely great like John Ford and Fritz Lang, Tod Browning, and also some very modern directors like The Coen Brothers. The directors take the freedom within their own movies to be melodramatic or funny when they chose to be. They do whatever they want and they don't care about the genre.
I took a couple of classes in clowning, but that was more like Lucille Ball kind of slapstick, not Ringling Brothers. But we had to do things silently, and the teacher would do this running commentary. 'Does this make Clown sad? Oh, Clown doesn't like that, does Clown?' Always 'Clown.' Never a name.