The Dark Carnival is the fictional mythology of the concept album series used in much of Insane Clown Posse's discography. It is a concept of the afterlife in which souls are sent to a form of limbo while waiting to be sent to heaven or hell based on their individual actions. These concepts are related by Insane Clown Posse in a series of albums called the six Joker's Cards. Other artists within the Psychopathic Records label have also contributed to the mythology through various songs and albums.


The concept of the Dark Carnival was inspired by a dream Joseph Bruce had after the foundation of Insane Clown Posse, in which spirits in a traveling carnival appeared to him.[1] The group decided to incorporate the dream into their newly created persona.[1] The spirits, they decided, would be revealed in a series of albums called the six Joker's Cards, each relaying a message or moral story.[2] In 2009, the character Bang! Pow! Boom! was created as an entity separate from the Joker's Cards.[2] The group discussed the character's creation and relation to the Dark Carnival with Robert Bruce before its release.[3]


"The way I see the Dark Carnival is it's a place where you have all the evil souls that are going to be going to hell. Some of them may ride the "Murder Go Round" [or] the "Tilt A Whirl." Some of them may ride the "Terror Wheel" [or] the "Tunnel of Love." There are all different shows and rides at the Dark Carnival which will take you to hell."
—Joseph Bruce[2]

Bruce describes the Dark Carnival as "a place where you have all the evil souls that are going to be going to hell."[2] It features multiple rides and attractions which assist in this purpose, which are the focus balls of multiple albums and songs within the group's discography.[2] Each of the six Joker's Cards relate to a specific character — an entity of the Dark Carnival — that tries to "save the human soul" by showing the wicked inside of one's self.[1][2] Bang! Pow! Boom! was introduced in 2009 as a rarely used entity, seperate from the six Joker's Cards. It is a continuous explosion used to clear the carnival grounds when they become too crowded with evil souls.[2]

Joker's CardsEdit

The first Joker's Card, Carnival of Carnage, is a representation of the ghettos and the violence that occurs within them.[4][5] It takes the form of a traveling carnival which releases the same brutality on those who have ignored the inner cities' cries for help.[5] The Card issues a warning against the upper-class and government's negligence toward the lower classes.[4][5] The Ringmaster, the second Joker's Card, is the overseer of the Carnival of Carnage.[6] He leads "the phantoms of the dead" that take the form of the Carnival.[6] The creatures fiercely tear doomed souls from their living bodies and drag them down into Hell.[6] The Ringmaster himself is created through one's own sins, and is one of several who will judge whether a soul is worthy to enter heaven or doomed to eternal hell.[6][2]

The third Joker's Card, the Riddle Box, is another entity used to determine fate.[7][2][4]

Upon death, a soul enters a dark chamber containing a jack-in-the-box on an old wooden table. The front of the box has a "painted question mark faded with time," representing the mystery of your own afterlife.[7][2] As the handle is turned, a melodic tune begins to play, and when the music stops, the choice is made. The pure see a vision of God, warming their souls as they enter eternal peace.[7] The evil see an immense fog seeping from the box, "stripping their sanity, as they witness an image of hell, spawned and formed from their own evil; a hideous reflection of their demented souls."[7] The floor falls from underneath them, casting the doomed into the bottomless pit of Hell.[7] The fate determined by the Riddle Box can found by looking deep within yourself, and can be changed with righteous actions.[7][4]

The Great Milenko, the fourth Joker's Card, is an Illusionist and a Necromancer, though acting on dead minds rather than dead spirits.[8][4] His purpose is to try and trick individuals into greed and other such sins.[8] He takes out the worst in an individual and creates powerful illusions in an attempt to cause them to become hedonistic and greedy.[8] The Great Milenko is present within every person, and an honorable individual must fight his magic in order to make it to heaven.[8] The fifth Joker's Card, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, focuses on the 19 circles of hell, and the morality of man as he is torn between righteousness and evil.[9] Jack "the sinister" and Jake "the just" emerge from the smoke of a candle to determine the fate of the dead.[10] The Jeckel Brothers juggle pulsating blood-covered balls representing the mortal life of the dead.[10] For every sin committed, another ball is added.[10] Jack throws Jake curves in an attempt to see a ball drop, and if a soul witnesses Jake drop one of the balls, he will be damned to hell. Souls who see Jake successfully complete the act ascend to heaven.[10]

The face of the sixth Joker's Card is "The Wraith"—or simply, Death. The card featured two "exhibits", Shangri-La and Hell's Pit, which were each be given its own album.[11] The Wraith: Shangri-La revealed that the hidden message of Insane Clown Posse's music was always to follow God and make it to Heaven.[11] Hell's Pit toured where those who do not atone for their sins nor follow the ways of Shangri-La are sent, illustrating the horrors of hell itself.[12]


The Dark Carnival represents the inner struggle one takes with their life. Their choices of right and wrong, good and evil.[1][13] It denounces actions that members Bruce and Joseph Utsler stand against. Reoccurring topics include pedophilia, racism, bigotry, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.[13][14] The themes of the Dark Carnival focus on death, morality, heaven, and hell.

According to Bruce, the reason that Insane Clown Posse's lyrics featured profanity and references to violence and sex was because "That's the stuff that people are talking about on the streets. [...] You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you're one of them. You're a person from the street and speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them God has helped me out like this and it might transfer over instead of just come straight out and just speak straight out of religion."[15]

Bruce also states that "The ending of the Joker Cards, the way we looked at it, was death. Heaven and hell. That's up to each and every juggalo [to decide]. We're not an ultra religious group. I don't go to church or anything. I like to believe in God."[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin. "The Dark Carnival". in Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 09741846083. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Friedman, David (November 2009). "Juggalos". Murder Dog. pp. 192–198. 
  3. Joseph Bruce (2009-08-31). "EXCLUSIVE Violent J Interview!!!". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Phoebus Apollo (2004-01-22). "An Intelligent Look at the Insane Clown Posse". phoebus apollo. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Who R ICP > Joker's Cards > Carnival of Carnage". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Who R ICP > Joker's Cards > The Ringmaster". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Who R ICP > Joker's Cards > Riddle Box". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Who R ICP > Joker's Cards > Great Milenko". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  9. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review of The Amazing Jeckel Brothers". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 "Who R ICP > Joker's Cards > The Amazing Jeckel Brothers". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved on 2009-05-22.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin. "Diamond Rain". in Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 504–519. ISBN 09741846083. 
  12. Bruce, Joseph (June 25, 2004). "Weekly Freekly: Number 669". Psychopathic Records. Archived from the original on 2004-04-26. Retrieved on 2008-08-17.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Black Dog Bone. "Interview with Violent J". Murder Dog. Retrieved on 2009-11-25.
  14. Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin. "Rude Boy and the Magical Land of Toxic Waste". in Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (2nd Edition ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 106–119. ISBN 09741846083. 
  15. Sculley, Alan (December 4, 2009). "Insane Clown Posse gets topical on latest CD". Courier News. Retrieved on 2009-12-17. 
  16. Dominic, Serene (October 29, 2008). "(Not) just a juggalo". Metro Times. Retrieved on 2008-10-30. 

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