The Greatest Nightmare On Earth
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is called “The Greatest Show on Earth.” As someone who doesn’t like clowns, I beg to differ. Allow me to explain.
Sunday, November sixth we made the trip to the Consol Energy Center where the circus was in town. This was my son’s first circus so I felt compelled to be there to see what his reactions would be and to spend some time with him despite my dislike for crowds and people who dress up in freakish makeup and act way too happy for my liking. This was also my first circus…at least…I’m pretty sure. If I had gone to the circus as a child it’s possible I blocked it out of my memory for good reason.
First off, parking was ten bucks. Not bad, I pay that every day to park downtown so that I can live the “American Dream” and give half of my paycheck to taxes.
Having never been in the Consol building before, my anxiety level was up. Most people like experiencing new things and the feeling of being lost. Those people are either crazy or hopeless. Anyway, it was pretty big but the seats were too close together for my liking, I would have liked my neighbors to remain surprised on what I had for lunch until the time was right. You’d be surprised how quiet you can make things with a well-timed bowel movement. I would have also benefited if they had been considerate enough to install sound proof privacy glass between each seat. Can’t win them all.
They really need to bring back the cone of silence.
So after people returned to their seats from the mosh pit / meet-n-greet in the center the announcer from Rocky steps out and starts bellowing random things. I notice that in his hand is a black and yellow “Terrible Towel” and begins to greet the people of Pittsburgh. We’re not even two minutes into the show and he’s already on strike one…if you want to impress me it’ll take more than waving a silly towel around in the air. Not everyone in Pittsburgh follows overpaid, overhyped sports teams. Lowering the prices at the concession stand and bringing out personal masseuses would have been a better start in my opinion.
Shortly after the crowd remembered that the “Terrible Towel” is just a marketing ploy to take your money (I can only wish), the lady sitting across from me in the aisle gets up and her camera flies out of her lap and hits me in the leg. So far I’m zero for two. Shortly after THAT, the seats in front of me become occupied and I find myself sitting behind Andre The Giant who either had too much gel in his hair or didn’t use enough Head and Shoulders. Great, not only is there a circus in town, but there’s also a circus in the guy’s hair in front of me. Couldn’t ask for a better “twofer.”
The ring leader was still going on about something or another but finally finished. I was about to clap in thanks for ending that painful reminder that this was “The Greatest Show on Earth” when they decided to turn the scene into something out of The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews and the Von Trapps pranced around in the dirt singing musical scores about this supposed greatest show for the next twenty minutes. To be fair if you had ADD or ADHD you would have been entertained with the sensory overload of different things going on. It would have been pleasant had it not been for all the people being loud and having fun.
We were treated to tigers doing tricks shortly after. No head in the lion’s mouth, no fire, no crazy stunts, but it was still impressive.
Things went old school all the sudden and they decided to bring out characters from the olden days like “The Bearded Lady” and “Mighty Meetal”. It was not received well.
I can think of ten things I’d rather be doing.
After that was over, I’m pretty certain Julie Andrews came out for an encore because I don’t remember much happening after that. There were some Chinese dragons and more clowns…joy. Then some contortionists came out and my interest piqued a little. The girls were cute and were doing things I am pretty sure would qualify as illegal. They had these electronic boards all around the ring up high that were displaying various decorations and information. They were also playing videos relating to the acts on stage but they didn’t match the movements or the people in the ring. Okay then, they felt the need to bring in backup from last year’s show via video for some reason? Why? That’s quite a slap in the face for the people performing in the here and now.
Tight rope performers were suddenly on but there was a point where they had technical difficulties. The music in the background therefore was set to loop, playing something out of a suspenseful horror film from the 1960s. All we needed were more clowns to drive me over the edge but thankfully that didn’t happen.
Then the Serpent Sisters came on and I woke up. Scantily clad drop dead gorgeous women came out for a whole ten seconds. I felt jipped. Seven bucks a seat for a ten second PG-13 striptease. Whatever.
My son’s favorite part came on next. Motorcycles drove around in this cage and I wasn’t sure how they could have kept it all straight and not have hit each other. I was just getting dizzy watching them.
Then some superhero clowns pulled up in this car and were introduced one by one. One of them was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, one was Batman, one was The Flash…there was even an overweight Catwoman. Guitar Hero Man came out and “impressed” us with his air guitar, I guess the Justice League will let just about anyone in.
More lights. More singing. More prancing. I guess if you like being around crowds and all that high energy the circus may appeal to you. It was not the case with me.
Not ideal napping conditions.
Would I go again? Probably not. I went for my son to give him the experience of going and he seemed to have a good time. Getting out of the damn parking garage was a different story. All of my ranting aside, the circus is full of talented people and I respect what they do. It’s dangerous and some of it humanly impossible yet they manage to make it look easy. It takes a lot of work and concentration to pull off what they do and a big “kudos” goes out to them for going above and beyond to keep people entertained. I was impressed when they mentioned that the show dated back to the 1870s. Even though this isn’t really my thing, I respect the longevity and the talent that this show continues to produce. At the very least it’s a memory my son will hopefully look back on as a fond experience he shared with his family. As for me…I won’t be watching Stephen King’s It any time soon.