Let me whistle this one in by raising a few heart-warming photos on my midway, sent our way by my UK connection, Sir Douglas of McPherson, in reply to my asking him about the scene over there in 2023. Take a look.
Big Kid Circus, at their last stop for the season, last month in Glasgow
Zippos circus last summer
HOW DO YOU FEEL seeing long lines at a circus? It always excites me, especially when I am in one, to the point of a mild panic: Will I get in before the tent sells out?? Only once did this trauma test my well being, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood where Circus Vargas had wisely raised its tent. I did get in, and enjoyed the pristine novelty of watching the show with a full house.
AND ONLY TWICE was I actually turned away at the ticket counters, by the Moscow Circus in Oakland in 1967, and Vargas, circa 1986, then tenting over the parking lot of the Hollywood Bowl. About 10 minutes before showtime, I hurled myself off a greyhound bus on Highland, returning from the Bay Area, and raced across the street, up a ticket vacant window. “Sorry, sold out”
BIG APPLE CIRCUS'S STRUGGLE to go beyond Lincoln Center continues, and suggests the show is not making sufficient profits anymore to hit the road. Current opus features Germany’s Circus Theater Roncalli, some of its acts in video teases quite impressive. Long lines do not seem to be forming. They threw out 50% off tickets over the black Friday weekend and are pushing other discounts. Inexplicably, they have failed to draw major reviews outside of their number one fan, The New York Times, which has become The White Tops of Gotham circus reviewing.
ANOTHER VALENTINE CRITIC'S PICK from the Times’ Alexis Soloski. She had nice things to say about everybody. She did miss Big Apple’s dogs and cat acts, and raised a slight quibble over the second act beginning “with a puzzling routine” of four fake polar bears (costumed performers). Left discretely uncharmed was she. Add the Roncalli bears to new Ringling’s robotic dog, and do we have a trend smacking of spineless showmanship? This merits an academic study. PETA PhDs could have a field day.
GREATEST COMEBACK FIZZLE ON EARTH? Never did I imagine: The most spectacular thing about the return of the circus that dare not speak its name, is how spectacularly ignored it has been by big media and newspapers. On national TV, have YOU ever seen even a mention of it: They may be doing boffo biz, for all I know.. Today I thought I spotted a review in the Chicago Tribune, only to find a feature story that felt like a hand out, talking up the show’s return, with Kenneth Feld being quoted. Where is Chris Jones, who regularly reviews circus for the Tribune? I would love to read his take on the show..
SHRINE CIRCUS RENAISSANCE? The temples that still produce real circus shows are forcing the public to re-think its ambivalence about real circus, forcing them to make their feedings known, to wit this, from one of only three Yelp reviews, all negative, dated Nov. 16, from Cindy I. in Co, Co:
"All we saw was acrobats swinging back and forth, the worst CLOWN show
ever, and a fake robot dog. I wish I had my money back. The tickets were
not worth the price we paid and the show was a pathetic two ring mess.
Our Shriners circus is way better!"
YES, YOU STILL DO have the Shrine Circus, those of you lucky enough to be near one. I tip my hat to the fearless men in red who have stayed the course. In their favor, they have strong ties to the community and enjoy the respect of all for their children’s hospitals. If anybody knows what can delight a child, surely it would be a Shriner.
I have more of that thread in mind. But for now, I am turning off my Intel brain implant to take a fake break.