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"Send Out the Clowns" is the eighteenth episode from Season 3 of Modern Family, it aired on March 14, 2012.

Plot Summary

Cam reunites an old clown act despite Mitchell's warnings. Phil plays hardball with a rival to get a listing. Manny's new "friend" has a crush on Gloria, and Claire wants her daughters to friend her on Facebook.

Episode Description

Cameron lost his close mentor, Professor Ringmaster Al Uzielli, who was the #2 professor at Cam's Clown College (just below Piemaster General). It was a simple funeral, complete with a slide whistle as he was put into the ground, fake bucket of water that was really confetti, and a pie in the casket. Unfortunately, it also meant Cam ran into Lewis, the other half of Fizbo & Lewis. They were huge (at children's parties). But Cam broke them up when he met Mitchell because you can't really be a clown and be in a relationship at the same time. Cam took the blame; it was like breaking up the Beatles (of children's parties). Nevertheless, they all go to have a drink. They all go in one small car, yes.

Phil has an important day ahead, more important than Claire wondering why Haley and Alex won't accept her friend request on Facebook. He's about to close a listing for his biggest client, only a rival agent, Mitzi Roth tries to undercut him, even going so far as to fake Phil pushing her into the bushes to get rid of him. Meanwhile, Jay is curious why Griffin Cooper, the coolest kid in school, suddenly wants to hang out with Manny. Gloria wants to believe Manny is cool, too, but Jay did give Manny a ride to school a few times on his motorcycle, so he thinks it's that.

Cam's night with Lewis went a lot better than he expected, given both of them came home at five in the morning and felt the need to teach Lily how to juggle. She loves it, but Mitch isn't so enamored. Especially when they start spitting out water...and she does it to Mitch.

The Dunphy day is going downhill quickly. Claire is beside herself because Alex and Haley refuse to accept her friend request and Phil lost the listing. Unfortunately, Phil's life lesson to the kids earlier in the day of working hard and being honest is changed to don't play by the rules and nice guys finish last. Luke suggests playing dirty, but Claire doesn't want him to. Of course, Phil is more than happy to borrow Luke's spy pen to record Mitzi being a cheater and play it back to the clients she stole. Of course, Mitzi was hip to that sort of ploy and she fakes hugging Phil to get the spy pen from his coat.

Griffin stops by the house, and Jay has retconned himself to looking like Fonzie from Happy Days. Gloria is upset he is dressing up like that guy who conned all those people out of their money with his pyramid scheme, but it turns out Griffin was OK with that because he had a big reason for coming over. Technically, he had two big reasons for coming over. And to give Griffin credit; he actually looked into Gloria's eyes at least once or twice. Jay was in denial.

Lewis bought Mitchell a book to apologize for the prior night. No snakes, but it did catch on fire. Cameron and he were going to go to work together at a kids' birthday party. Mitchell isn't happy about this, but Cameron wants to live that part of his life again, a part he accuses Mitchell of hating. And Cameron takes offense to that. (CAM: If you squeeze me, do I not honk?) But it turns out Lewis thought they were reuniting permanently. Cam apologizes because he arranged it to be a one-off reunion. Lewis was upset about it, but he understood. They decided to do one last show, and even Mitchell and Lily attended. Only the 'Little Fizbo' routine they had going (with Fizbo's face and Lewis's hands) got a little too real in front of the crowd. And Fizbo didn't realize they added a frying pan to the routine. And Cameron can't get anybody to help him because everyone thought it was part of the routine.

Griffin invites everyone over to his house for a pool party and said they should bring swimsuits. Despite the 50-degree temperatures, Gloria still wants to go through with the charade. But Gloria points out they've used her breasts to get tables at restaurants, so why can't they use them to get Manny a friend? Jay thinks it's dishonest, but Gloria counters he did the same thing with his motorcycle. Only Manny overhears Gloria saying maybe Griffin will eventually like Manny. It turns out Manny was OK about it since Manny was being a friend to keep an eye on Griffin's sister, Chloe. Gloria was upset Manny was using her to get to Chloe, but Manny was being quite Machiavellian about the whole thing.

Mitzi runs into Luke at the grocery store, who introduces himself and asks why she hates Phil so much. Mitzi tells him it's not personal, but since his dad was so worried about paying for Haley's college and some balloon payment coming up. Mitzi caves in and gives the listing back to him. Of course, it was all a setup by Phil and Luke. Luke could even cry on cue. Phil wants to go celebrate with Claire, but she's not up for it. On the good side for Claire, Haley and Alex finally accepted her friend request. However, Claire discovered that worked in both directions. Like a picture, she's tagged in from Spring Break in New Orleans, 1990. Where she had a funnel in her mouth and a guy's hand in her shirt.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Ellen Barkin as Mitzy Roth
  • Bobby Cannavale as Lewis
  • Guilford Adams as Chuckleberry
  • Chris Dollard as Bubbles
  • Jonathan Emerson as Stan Larkin
  • Nancy Linari as Patti Larkin
  • Dash Dobrofsky as Griffin
  • Gary Morgan as Pallbearer #1
  • Michael "Tuba" Heatherton as Pallbearer #2


  • This episode has no recurring characters.


Cultural References

  • The episode title is an allusion to the song "Send in the Clowns", from the musical A Little Night Music.
  • Jay mentions Fonzie from Happy Days; Gloria confuses him with Ponzi scheme.
  • Claire becomes a Facebook fan of Adele.
  • Cam's line, "If you poke me, do I not honk?" is a reference to The Merchant of Venice.
  • To make himself cry, Luke thinks of the fact that all the Three Stooges are dead. (in fact, the last original Stooge to die was Moe in 1975, while Joe DeRita died in 1993)