I went to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show On Earth last night. Something I hadn’t done in a long time. Sure, I have been to other circuses; so called smaller shows with a smaller knowledge base. All with three rings present. Dogs, ponies, elephants, clowns.. the whole gambit.
I have a friend that has a second job up at the big sports arena here, and he said that he was going to have to work the circus. Of course I had to know when, and how much were tickets, and what time did the show start. I immediately put it out to the Universe that I had to go to see this sircus. Two days later, that same friend got tickets through his first job, and could not go, so he gave me the tickets! Ultimately, I got two free tickets,
We got the tickets about two weeks in advance, so we put the night in ink on the calendar! We went back and forth whether we should go in face or not, what became the deciding factor was my inability to see out of my right eye still. We opted to wear goofy costumes, and just clown noses instead..Excitement building.
It’s the night of the show, we had to hunt down 2 red foam clown noses to wear to the show. Something we can play with while people watching, a way to make people giggle at our silliness. Once armed with noses, we promptly headed for Moda Center. Parking was simple enough, and we got a great spot right by the exit doors. Itt almost seemed like we were sneaking in the back way.
As my Clowny partner and I strolled through the mezzanine, we skimmed over the different souvenirs that all cost twelve bucks, We decided that we didn’t need any more crap like that in the house, unless we got the tiger cup because it looked like when you were sipping the cup you were eating the brains out of the tigers skull.
Wethen found our seats, and proceeded to people watch when we hear the announcement “Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages, this is your last opportunity to tour backstage, come on down and visit back stage now!”
That was all the invitation we needed. We ran down like the fools we are, and got back stage to Barnum and Bailey. This is really not back stage. It is the Clown Alley, where props and bits of shows are ready to take on stage at any moment. Either by an act, or the Clowns. I knew what we were looking at immediately, and it made me feel so disorganized! No matter, this was still pretty cool.
The best part was turning around and walking out of the curtain, it was like walking on stage in front of a captured audience…. well, in my personal head theatre it was, anyway. I envisioned the whole arena packed. A captured audience generously giving me a standing ovation upon my appearance. In reality, there was a clown getting volunteers for a bit. I stood back to learn some technique, and possibly steal a bit of the act.
I heard a small “excuse me” from behind me, I looked down to see a 7 or 8 year old boy trying to get a better view by squeezing through the crowd. The man in front of me did not hear the little boy after saying “Excuse me Please” 8 times, I grabbed the kids hand and tapped the man on the shoulder with his little digits. The man looked at me, so I pointed at the kid, and to which the kid politely said “Excuse me please!” and finally got to sit on the ring itself. He turned tto look at me, at this point I had put my nose back on and just gave him a big smile and a thumbs up, then pointed to the show. He stared at me for a few more moments before turning to the show. It is moments like that in life, when you are a kid, that make an impression.
The Circus folk started wrangling us back to our seats and the show started.
This is where my jaw hits the floor. Not in the way you all might think. I was instantly teleported back to 1985, and not the good side of it. I almost felt Reaganomics tapping on my shoulder. Back in 1985, I was 16 going on 17, and very practical about it. I was heavily into subculture, and pushing the greatest last moments of teen rebellion: hardcore punk rock! My skin would crawl every time I would hear music in movies or television that they would claim was punk music. I would have to look away every time I would see a “Punk” on movies or TV too, of course with a few exceptions (Repoman: My heart will always lie with you).
The music was directly from bad 80’s TV! Loads of drum machines and funky break downs with said drum machines. Everytime I hear that sound, I cringe still. The song the ringmaster was singing was about building a circus so great we would all love it. And he really sang his heart out, maybe hoping that we would love it. Maybe wishful thinking enough would be enough.
The Greatest Show On Earth was fast becoming the Mediocre Extravaganza of We ARe OKAY! My Childhood dreams were being smashed out with every passing moment. The barrage continued for about an hour, then we were given a break from the 80’s onslaught.
It probably would have been slightly more acceptable if the trapexe team did not use safety wires during all of their areal acts. It would have been so much better with nets, or pads. But, no. Wires. It killed the illusion of everything! WE CAN SEE YOUR WIRES!
It was the finale that really made me go over the edge and begin to heckle my beloved circus. It was supposed to be a death defying high wire act with trapeze and a motorcycle. The lighting was so bad, I could only see a quarter of the act, which was not good enough to distract from the music. The band created an 80’s big hair band muzac medley beginning with Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train, then jumbled through to a yet to be identified Motley Crue song, There was another song after the Motley Crue song, but I was in such shock and horrified at the music, I was losing focus on the show. And that’s when they switched to Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law as the wire acrobats did this flip on the high wire.
I left the circus in a good mood over all. But a little more jaded, a little more grown up. That inner child of mine kept asking why there was only one ring? Why was there only 2 clowns? Why was the music so bad? I felt that the highlight of the whole circus, was making that little boy seize the day and get what he wanted. So I left holding onto that instead.