Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Circus Can't Beat Up Anybody Else's Circus

I did something stupid over the weekend. I went to see the circus. It was so underwhelming, I strongly urge the owners to rename it, "Mediocre Show on Earth."
The last time I saw the circus was in 1988. My grandfather treated my family to the show. He was old, in the beginnings of his decline. It was a Saturday afternoon. I wore a red dress. The show, as I recall, was spectacular. The clowns were so funny, the animals were so majestic, the contortionists were so bendy, the stunts were so life-threatening, and the trapeze absolutely blew my mind. In short, the experience was magical.

I wanted to revisit the circus many times since then, but was turned off because of alleged animal abuse. I boycotted the circus for as long as I could possibly stand it, right up until Saturday. I'm not sure why I decided to give in. After all, I was on a 23-year streak. I guess I sort of hoped that the allegations were either false or no longer an issue. Plus, who are we to say that elephants don't like wearing sequins? (See how easy it is to break down your moral fiber with only a little justification?)

If only I'd been warned that the real reason to boycott the circus is that it has taken a serious nose dive into the Snore Zone. For example, there were fewer clowns this time, and they were not even remotely funny. I know we're in a recession, but is funny that expensive? Did funny have to get cut out of the budget? I walk around being funny all day long for free! If it were up to me, I would have given the horribly annoying musical numbers the axe instead.

There were very few stunts in the show---no ladies doing handstands on top of galloping horses, no tiny Asian men folding themselves into 3 x 5 index cards, and no trapeze artists flying through the air by their teeth. The best we got was a man catapulted across the stage shortly after being lit on fire. It was semi-impressive if I hadn't SEEN IT EVERY NIGHT ON DAVID LETTERMAN IN 2006. Plus, they gave the guy a giant inflatable landing pad and a crew with fire extinguishers to greet him there. Where's the excitement in that?

I wanted to like the circus, I really did. I went in ready to give it my all. And I would have been satisfied if only it had maintained the 1988 status quo. But truthfully, I was hoping it had become bigger and better as most great American industries do, like our car manufacturing and healthcare system. Oh wait.

But seriously, I was semi-expecting that the circus of 2011 would be all thrilling and edgy. You know, I thought maybe they'd have one of the lions escape from the cage, jump into the crowd and eat a kid. Then, just before the crowd tramples each other on the way out of the building, the lion runs back to the cage, vomits the kid out whole and unscathed at the feet of the burly tamer to the jaw-dropping surprise of the audience. The lion takes a deep bow as the crowd erupts into applause. The lion tamer then lifts the kid---who is actually a pygmy circus performer disguised as a kid---onto his shoulders. And all of this, of course, is going on as trapeze artists are flying around the big top on fire, practicing contortion moves. Now THAT'S thrilling and edgy. That's the circus of 2011.

Hey, Circus, you can actually have that idea for free. You're welcome.


Leslie said...

What a hilarious post! You do actually walk around being funny all day, and you've never once charged me a cent. You definitely have a point.

Christy said...

Max seems a little underwhelmed too. I vote Tiffany & Max in charge of next year's circus!

Becky said...

The circus gives me the creeps. :) I love the picture of Max. A kid at the circus should not look so bored-that's for sure! It's like he is saying, "Are you serious? This is it?" Funny!

Jesse C said...

I remember loving that trip to the Circus. That's too bad today's version does not measure up.

Jodi said...

Have you ever seen Indian Summer? When a group of adults return to the summer camp of their youth? And one of the guys keeps saying
"I remember this lake being so much bigger"
"I remember the cabins being so much Bigger"
"I remember this mountain being so much BIGGER"

It stands to reason that the circus of your youth would be, well, bigger.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was there and the best part of the Greatest Show on Earth 2011...the Old Bay French fries. So take out GREATEST, SHOW and EARTH and they need no disclaimers. Next year I will consider attending "The On" if I see that advertised. And if they sell Old Bay French fries.


Emily said...

I've always been "meh" about the circus. But your circus, I'd definitely go see! That sounds awesome!

Kate said...

Well that's no bueno.

Lindy-Lou said...

So funny. The photo was a great part of the story. Mostly what I remember about that circus experience waa how terribly smelly the animals were!! Especially the elephants. I've never noticed awful smells at the zoo. So there you go. But you didn't mention objectionable smells. Hmmmm. Just like our culture - obsessed with cleanliness but lacking substance.

Mia said...

We went a few years back and loved it. The ring leader/ring master (?) was super charismatic. He made the show. That and my kids were 3 & 5 and super easy to impress! And it is fun watching them be so wowed.

K13 said...

Great post and perfect timing for me...I too, have been boycotting the circus for the same reasons...then my husband sees the commercial for the circus coming to town THIS weekend. He begs (seriously!) to go & take our 3yr old son. I fought it off for 1 day before caving. I anticipate being equally as disappointed as you come this Saturday.

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