Monday, May 21 , 2018, 9:56 am | Mostly Cloudy 62º


Danny Tyree: Blowing My Top Over Ringling Bros. Circus Stop

The circus and I go way back.

Most of my childhood memories are unanchored by a calendar; but on July 8, 1966, I cajoled my father into writing down my day’s activities. So I have a written record that on that date, as I wound down for bedtime, I watched The Greatest Show On Earth on TV. (This was not long after I was mesmerized by a circus troupe that came to our small town.)

A few years later I would devour a biography of showman P.T. Barnum. Finally, in 2010 I wrote a column about the privilege of taking my family to see the Ringling Bros. “Illuscination” extravaganza.

So I was devastated to learn that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end its 146-year run in May.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment (current owner of the American institution) decided the production was no longer a viable business model.

Part of the problem is the enormous expense of transporting all the people, animals and props by train — and providing an education for the performers’ children. (“Students, let’s diagram the sentence ‘Most experts agree that the three major food groups are circus peanuts, popcorn and cotton candy ...’”)

But the biggest problem was the fact that ticket sales have plummeted since animal rights activists forced the circus to phase out elephants.

I do not doubt the sincerity of the animal rights activists. Many of the most radical protesters made great sacrifices, such as taking a turn on the picket line before hurrying on to get their partial-birth abortion. (“Like Barnum said, ‘There’s one NOT BORN every minute.’ *Chuckle*”)

Yeah, why should elephants be bullied into performing silly antics when they could be doing something DIGNIFIED, like staying in the wild, falling prey to poachers and providing aphrodisiacs for pathetic Chinese Romeos?

Critics seemed to have an insatiable desire to punish the circus. One activist grudgingly admitted that Ringling Bros. has made a lot of progress in its treatment of animals, but insisted that they didn’t start SOON ENOUGH.

So apparently critics can be appeased only by ending the circus OR packing 13 clowns into a tiny time machine and sending them back to lecture their predecessors, toss a custard pie in the face of Lee Harvey Oswald and — if there’s room for a really big seltzer bottle — extinguish the Great Chicago Fire.

Various last-ditch plans for cutting costs or modernizing the show were deemed too little, too late. These included secretly replacing the tightrope with a Taser line, renting out the Human Cannonball to North Korea (“Here, wear this enriched uranium vest, Yankee”), letting a lucky ticket holder use the three rings to pierce the body part of his/her choice, and inviting the tigers to gobble up the electronic devices of bored 6 year olds.

From now on, I’ll get misty-eyed whenever I hear Three Dog Night’s “The Show Must Go On” (which uses the familiar circus tune “Entrance of the Gladiators” as its lead-in), because I’ll worry about the fate of the performers.

Feld Entertainment promises it will reassign as many employees as possible, but the vast majority will wind up with a major career change.

Imagine it: “Yes, I’m with Uber; but I won’t technically be DRIVING the car. I’ll be CARRYING it in one hand and a barbell in the other.”

— Satirical columnist Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page Tyree’s Tyrades. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >