Monday, July 20, 2009

The Adventures of John and Jim: Why Not Your Own Blog, Guys?

(Please note: This post contains an update in the text.)

I nominate John Ringling North II and James Royal, who run the Kelly Miller Circus, to be the first show owners to put out a blog.

John and Jim: your two ultra-conscientious clowns, named Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs, as you may have been told, blog daily about their “adventures” working on your circus. I was enthralled first part of season, wondering what you, John, were up to, and what sort of crowds you were attracting. If you haven’t checked out Steve’s blog, you will find that he appears to be remarkably honest, I think, in stating daily biz. Though I’m not sure what he means by the term “average audience.”

I can see why Steve, a likable and passionate guy, though a tad temperamental, has a huge fan base. For a while, I was entertained as he wrote about malls, shopping, muddy lots, sore throats ( I know about those), visits with co-workers and fans of the show — and especially the business you were doing. And whenever he mentioned you, of course, my ears dilated: A John Ringling North II sighting!

But then, as I read of one bum house or non-attentive audience (cell phone addicts ignoring the show) after another, I started growing weary and depressed, so I decided to leave. In truth, I was never a Steve and Ryan groupie. More a Ringling North groupie, though I have yet to invest in a Texas Stetson.

Recently, since you, John, stated to a reporter that ticket sales are double what they were the past couple of season, I was inspired to check Steve out again, wondering if his daily biz scoops were in sync with your statement. It seems biz is up sum, though maybe not all that much. [Upate correction from John Ringling North II to Showbiz David: "The lady reporter in Massachusetts did quote me as saying sales are double the last 2 seasons. What I said was business to date was ahead of the previous 2 seasons.]

Then, almost by magical accident, I discovered a nasty feud going on between Steve and Ryan and your prop dept. Oooooo, wait a minute — check this out! Is this a new kind of circus reality blog? Heck, for all I know, you have enough mud to deal with without wishing to intervene. You are a laid back guy, from what I have observed. Seems Steve resents the idea of tipping a prop hand. Seems he and others resent a tip being veiled extortion. Hmm, wasn’t this once a regular Ringling ritual?

Lots of sympathetic visitors commented (not sure if any unsympathetic voices were let into the party), among them, John Herriott, who correctly advised the guys, in my view, to go through organizational protocol.

Now, here’s the slant for your bog. I’ve not heard the prop dept point of view, or yours. In fact, the blog leaves a not very flattening impression that you and Jim, how to put this, are missing in action on the matter. Perhaps you, John, are touring the continent for new acts and you, Jim, are absorbed in seat wagon design. Or maybe organizational protocol has not yet reached the Jomar? Your take on this meaty matter — John? Jim? (By the way, do you guys ever check out the malls?)

Your blog would give us the counterpoint. What a story! One day, Steve vents. The next, you smile. One day, you decree. The next, Ryan pratfalls. Almost sounds like a Broadway musical in the making.

It’s a brave new world we are charting. Not sure about all the legal implications ahead. That is, what leverage you may have in controlling these tell all things, which, as you know, once showed up in tell all books after the teller left the show and landed a publishing contract. Today, we don’t have to wait.

Last year, you had Ben Trumble, a philosophical guy questioning routing decisions. This year, the Copeland & Ryan Show. Next year, what – "The Bizarre Big Top Romance of Bearded Lady and X-Ray Man"?

Heck, hire me and I’ll blog. Ten days in the mud, max ...


Ben Trumble said...

David I always question routing and marketing.if I owned a show I'd probably still write about the routing! K M Made a brilliant decision to go into MA last year. It was brave and worked well. My usual beef is with day to day routing between towns, a beef as old as circus. Thankless job. If I was routing between towns I'm sure half the people would call me an idiot... And sometimes they'd be right.

Pat Cashin said...


Not to sound as though I don't appreciate your blogging, I do, but I really can't understand your unhealthy obsession with Kelly-Miller, JRNII, Jim Royal or Steve & Ryan.

You haven't seen the Kelly-Miller Circus.

You had the opportunity... and didn't go.

Yet you pontificate about the Kelly-Miller Circus incessantly.

How much of the business of a circus, both in the ring and out, can you REALLY understand from blog posts and YouTube videos?

If you enjoyed the Ringling Gold Unit, that's great. If you want to continue to badger Big Apple because of the ticket scanning delays and the cutting of clown gags, then go for it. You are as entitled to your opinions as anyone else who was there.

But you've NEVER seen Kelly-Miller.

You've never seen Casey's act, sat down and spoken with JRN II or watched they eyes of the kids in the tent light up nor listened as they squeal in delight at Natalie's dogs or Ryan making a gallon of water squirt out of Steve's ears.

Until you actually make the effort to go and witness the show, first-hand, the amount of blog space that you devote to it is as meaningful as your opinions on early 20th century elevator repair or Indonesian doorknob-licking ceremonies.

The time has come for you to stop "challenging" North and company with your preconceived notions of what you imagine they SHOULD be.

GO see what they ARE... or please find something else to talk about.


Showbiz David said...

Incesantly? gosh, I pontificate about a lot of shows incesantly. I will continue following stories that interest me from circus to broadway to JRN II. I had fun, and though it might cause a few people to laugh, suggesting that JRN II and Royal put out their own blog. And there is a big issue here -- blogging by circus employees -- worth exploring, which I intend to off-season. "Unhealthy Obsession" with Steve and Ryan? That's new to me. I've not followed them for a few months, until recently to check up on biz (it's called cross fact checking). And I'm not following them now. Sorry, Pat, if I offend you. But this is the way it is over here. If you find me meaningless, you are of course free to terminate your free subscription. Wait for the White Tops. And happy smiles over in Clown Alley!