Manuel Ortiz, a 37-year-old semiretired dunk tank clown from South Florida who goes by the name Baby Bozo in the cage, said the color of a clown’s skin, the sound of his voice, and which state he is parked in that night all determine what a clown can get away with.

Mr. Simmons and Mr. Ortiz agree: the farther north you get, the more sensitive the crowd is. And California? Forget it.

Mr. Simmons said his favorite fair is in Augusta, Ga., because he is basically uncensored. He doesn’t work the big, national motorcycle rallies, though.

“Most of those are open carry,” he said. “I’m not dumb.”

White clowns can get in the most trouble, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Ortiz both said.

In 2014, a dunk tank clown at the Delta Fair in Memphis was fired when he used the term “nappy head” to insult a black woman and her family. Tanya Jones, the target of the clown’s insults, told a local television station at the time that she was humiliated.