The circus ain’t comin’ to town – no more.
After more than a century the big guys in the biz, Ringling Bros/Barnum and Bailey are rolling up their big-top tents and calling it a day.
And not a moment too soon, I daresay.
For many years, pre-television and movies, the circus was a big deal. In cities and towns across North America it would arrive in the dark of night, originally by circus train and its presence punctuated by the distinctive sounds of a steam calliope, and there were lions and tigers and bears, oh my, along with elephants and high wire trapeze artist babes, not to mention goddamn clowns.
But in recent years the concept had grown stale. Increased sensitivity to the suffering of animals was a punctuation point.
I think I first saw a circus when I was five or six. It was at the PNE and the Vancouver Shrine Club brought them in. What I found was it was not as enchanting as I thought it would be. The big cats were bedraggled looking and they disappointingly did not maul the guy who was tormenting them. The ‘hot’ trapeze artist close up was as lined as my grandmother and likely her age despite the peroxided tresses. I did like the high-wire artistry though nobody fell. And even then I loathed the clowns and could only think, don’t get close and try to talk to me.
Then a few weeks ago B&B announced that it was all coming to an end. The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ had been running since 1919. I commend the proprietors for bringing it to its denouement.