Everyone knows and accepts that the expressions on the clown's face are not real. No one really knows the true personality of the man behind the mask.
It's probably used figuratively, not referring to a real clown.
A person may be play acting in a sense to conceal his real feelings.
In the case of a clown, we believe he's acting, so we don't judge him as a real person.
By pretending to be a clown, we can insulate ourselves from the judgement of others.
Perhaps we don't want people to know that we really are sad.
Well, that sounds like a lot of bull, doesn't it?
Edit. I see there are plenty of opinions on the net about this line. It seems to be from a song.
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This is how he used it
"Marshall you're so funny man
You should be a comedian, god damn!
Unfortunately I am
I just hide behind the tears of a clown"
People are waiting to help.
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