Clowning Around is clearly one-upsmanship on Cut the Rope. Instead of candy, you've got clowns. Instead of a monster waiting to eat the candy, you've got barrels that the clowns are trying to land in as a part of their act. Then you have various pieces of circus equipment such as platforms, trampolines, cannons, and, of course, chains that need to be cut in the proper sequence with the proper timing to allow everyone to reach their intended destination in a timely manner. I should also note that levels can include multiple clowns of different colors and each clown must land in a like colored barrel.
Is this better than Cut the Rope? No. I think it's equivalent. The tutorial is well done and progression is smooth. And, yes, my five year old loves Cut the Rope, too. At the time she'd play whichever was available (i.e. on the device I wasn't using) as I had Cut the Rope on my Android tablet and Clowning Around on the iPad. Now, it doesn't matter... they're on both. And they're both excellent games. Looking for something like Cut the Rope, but want some new challenges? You'll be in heaven. Love circus music? Well, you'll be treated to a nice musical score while the game gets started.