Sunday, June 10, 2012

Here There Be Clowns

Went to Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus yesterday for a scorching afternoon show (outside temp topped nearly 100 degrees) at the Colorado World Arena here in Colorado Springs just a few miles from our home.  I had never been to a circus and there's a lot of interesting expectations for one as old as myself.  I didn't know to expect Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) or Stephen King's It (1990) or something probably more like Doris Day and Jimmy Durante in "Billy Rose's Jumbo" (1962) or probably a combination of the three.  All three trailers below.

Something Wicked This Way Comes


Billy Rose's Jumbo

  Interestingly, it was none of these things.  The show was pretty insane.  None were the side-show freaks that I'd expect, or on-the-dirt country-fair style workings complete with merry-go-round and the magic of Ferris' Wheel;  instead there apparently was a pre-show outdoors in the parking lot where you could see some of the animals but from what I've read, no games-of-chance or trial-by-combat Thunderdomes or whatever, but at 100 degrees we missed that, and I believe it was cut short and it was very small due to parking restrictions. 
  Inside the World Area (for those who've been) it's a thin, rounded corridor against a modest concert hall.  Lining the corridor walls were vendors of almost all exactly the same things:  cotton-candy, snow-cones, popcorn, and Chinese plastic flashing toys that have lots of blinking LEDs.  Everything was, of course, violently overpriced.  Cotton-candy was $12, but you get a magic fabric top-hat with it, so I guess it was worth it, so I got that, because, hey, magic hat.  The blinky-toys were $15 to $35 and the only magic they held was that your wallet got lighter as they lit-up.  Snow-cones were $20 and rather small, but you get to keep the plastic clown cup and straight basic straw.  I think popcorn was infinity dollars.  Don'tchya WANT it?  Yep, no balloons.  Aww...

Sellers during the intermission sold flashing madness.

  So we sat in our medium-level seat which was quite fine.  The spectacle included a lot of happenings, to include an actual 3-ring-at-once show.  Music was live which was very impressive, to include pyrotechnics.  Started-out bringing just about everyone out into the floor at-once with an opening song by the Master of Ceremonies who was as if Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was performed by Michael Duncan.

The MC chatting-up one of the bedazzled girls.

Star Spangled Banner in Wonder Woman garb.

  Things settled-down pretty quickly and everyone fell instantly in-love with "Paco" the midget side-kick of the MC.  The entire show seemed to be based about harnessing the "Power of the Dragon" by mastering the four virtues of, "Courage, Strength, Wisdom, and Heart".  Why the MC and all the clowns there want to harness the "Power of the Dragon" is unclear.  They seem pretty intent on getting that though, and it worries me a little.   

Beware the Clowns

  The set is broken-up into two parts with a 30 minute intermission in-between.  Each set was 1 hour.  During the pre-show inside, elephants painted and kids could play with clowns (some kids may not have made it back to this dimension, it's unclear).

Elephants paint pre-show.

Horse-masters galloped around the ring doing stunts of which someone almost got killed.  Dual motorcyclists rode up tight-wires with acrobat girls on-board.  At one point, the bike flipped.

Honda Rebel motorcycles can go anywhere.

  I was pretty stressed-out with the lion-tiger show.  Those cats did NOT care for their trainer and would all often synchronize to attack as they all stepped closer to him all-at-once with death in their eyes as he momentarily moved his gaze behind him.  VERY treacherous indeed as he could have been ripped to shreds easily.  I wonder what the tons of little kids thought of that.  With older eyes I could see that the cats definitely wanted him dead; no joke.  I missed the shot where they all charged at him at-once in two steps because my heart stopped.  I think the dumb parents/kids thought the pretty kitties were nice.

Cats obeying.. for now..

Death to.. MING!

  Shao-Lin monks performed an interesting take on the "strong man" theme, smashing sticks against their backs, stabbing and bending spears with their necks and bending steel bars around their throats.  (Shao-Lin?) Clowns later lampooned it, probably because clowns have superpowers and are indestructible gods.




  Intermission and then trapeze next.  Girl performed the triple somersault which had never been performed by a female artist before.  She failed it the first time, but we all were routing for her as she just got back up and gave it the old American try again, and succeeded.  This shot is her more determined preparation and you can see the determination.

She'll get it, this time! (and does!)

  In between each mini-show, there's a gala of several people running around, the MC and Paco singing and galavanting, and the band plays wildly with great electric guitar work.  Very rock-oriented, with no sign of Enter the Gladiators calliope to be found to my shock.!!!?

Rockin' like it's 1997

  The show ended with elephants as expected, and more gala events, singing, and the dragon shows up.  Luckily it's Thule the gold dragon (I'd be afraid if it was polychromatic) and he breathes golden fire (interesting, that).  The dragon goes around the arena.

Got elephants?

  Eight motorcyclists go through a traditional sphere-cage and don't die, amazingly.

Recorded by me using my Canon Powershot HD
(love the MC at the end)
Paco masters every challenge though, and so great, now we have a midget with Dragon Powers.  Good God, man!
  Overall I had a very good time.  Becky's Facebook page has some more pics, including me in a magic hat.  The whole thing was more of a gala event than what I'd assume a circus might be with lots of mini-tents and sideshow characters, but it was very fun and worthwhile and cost about $35 which was fair enough!  Music was top-notch and stunts were very choreographed and well-done, and I must admit, it may very well be the greatest show on Earth.

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