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Circus Historical Society
"Insider" Circus Humor. . . for the enjoyment of circus historians.
There are five seasons - Spring, Circus, Summer, Fall and Winter
A Live Circus Agent Let Loose in the Sanctum"I would like to write a short notice for the Sells Brothers' Circus," said the circus agent, after introducing himself to the Poo Bah of the intellectual department of this journal continuing.
"We exhibit May 13th and our advertisement appears in your columns."
"What kind of a show have the Sells Brothers got?" we ventured to ask.
"It is not a show," responded the avant courier, "but a three ply concern; and obliging original obviously observed offering overwhelming outviewing over-throwing opposition ostentatious olla podria of oriental or occidental oppulent omnium gatherum. Several singular separate solid superior surprising superlatively sensational successful stupendous shows, masterly magnificent multifarious maifold, massive marvelous might miraculous monster museums, mastadon menagerie unrivaled unapproachable, unequaled unparalled unquestionably useful - unequivocally unique union unconditionally unobjectionable unomitted unbounded combined concrete colossal cyclopean culminated carefull conceived circus concentration, cabinic, coalescence, chief concerted conglomeration competently calculated, capital captivating calisthenic classical coagmented caravan costly coveted crowning circensian, coactive climax chronicaled choicedrawn chaste catholic challenge competing composite collective colligated cohesive coefficient commanding ceremonious centralized composition," and as he -?- the dictionary he never stopped to -?- breath.
"How long shall I make it?' inquired the wordy scribe, as he prepared to write drawing twelve pointed -?- from his pocket.
"Well, say three columns," we modestly suggested.
From: Sumner County Standard (Wellington, KS), April 30, 1886.
The aerialist adds up his salary for the season as "net" proceeds.
Our First Circus AdvertisementFrom Laramie City (Wyoming) Boomerang, 1881.
Yesterday a young man with the good clothes of a bunco-steerer and the glad effulgent look of a great man who Is comfortably full, came into The Boomerang office, and after some mental labor at the desk of the society editor, who had gone over across the street for a bologna sausage, produced the following advertisement, which he desired inserted for two weeks on the fourth page of The Boomerang:
Season of 1881
Grand Farewell Bridal Tour of the only double-and-twisted, all-wool aggregation, the World's Congress of Wonders and torchlight procession of arenic talent, headed by a living Phalanx of gold-bespattered chariots and winged monsters of the briny deep, followed by the most jewhillikin gosh-all-hemlock exposition of Camels with Twisted Tails, wappy-jawed giraffes and speckled hyenas from Farther India, squeaking baboons with purple snoots, Early Rose dromedaries from Europe, slim-tailed birds of Paradise, and big snakes from everywhere.
Reprinted in Circus Scrap Book, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Jul), 1929, p. 52.
A New Departure
An advertising agent for one of the great circus combinations has been in Detroit for a week past, and yesterday he sat down long enough to answer a few questions. The interview started off as follows:
|Question:||Who is that man?|
|Answer:||That is a showman.|
|Question:||Why is he dressed so fashionably?|
|Answer:||Because he makes money so fast, and is wealthy.|
|Question:||Are all showmen rich and happy?|
|Answer:||Yes; for they are entirely free from care. They have only to announce performances to the people, when lo! the money flows in, and the multitude testify their approbation by throwing real estate, country produce and poultry on the half-shell at the performers.|
|Question:||Are the performers also rich?|
|Answer:||No; only the managers become rich.|
|Question:||How do showmen invest their money?|
|Answer:||Occasionally in real estate, sometimes in diamonds and raiment [sic], but almost always in beer.|
|Question:||How long does it take a showman to acquire a fortune?|
|Answer:||About six weeks.|
|Question:||How does he do it?|
|Answer:||Starting from Union square, he lays out a route through an unknown section of country, with small towns few and far between; carries a large company, besides several tons of printing with him; plays a week in each place, traveling meanwhile in a Pullman car, and scattering coin out of the car windows along the route in order to advertise the show. Thus he loads himself with shekels and dresses like a dude.|
|Question:||Does the manager pay salaries promptly?|
|Answer:||He does - when his attention is called to so trifling a matter.|
|Question:||Does he pay his hotel bills?|
|Answer:||When his mind is not occupied with weightier matters, such as testing the relative strength of bed-sheets and rope in lowering a trunk from a sixth story window, he frequently and cheerfully liquidates.|
|Question:||Can you name some millionaire managers of the present day?|
|Answer:||It would take too long; their name is legion.|
|Question:||Who is the manager's best friend?|
|Answer:||The guiless billposter.|
|Question:||Who is his worst enemy?|
|Answer:||The town clerk with a license.|
|Teacher:||That will do; go to the head of the class|
|By S. A. Tire, New York Clipper, November 24, 1883.|
|1st||Five feet four.|
|4th||Scarcely ever on time.|
|5th||Quarrelsome (Little fellows always have more cheek than brains).|
|6th||Can knock down to an allspice (Twenty-five years a Wizard).|
|7th||Never indulge in profanity (having been schooled by "Uncle John").|
|8th||Can budge with the next one (Whisky is good for Asthma).|
|9th||Never traveled with "Dan Rice."|
|10th||Have been out all night with one "Day" (Thirteen fairy-tails [sic] thrown in, Charles).|
|11th||Keep a gin-mill (Did expect the gin-mill to keep me).|
|12th||Not much given to "Sells" and always have an eye on De Haven of rest.|
|13th||Notwithstanding the multitudes that always attend Old John Robinson's exhibitions - never had but one assistant - and he wore crutches.|
From New York Clipper, January 31, 1874, p. 847.
It is an established fact that the first menagerie was owned and run by Noah. Others have claimed the distinction, but Noah alone is entitled to the credit which rightfully attaches to the originator of such a glorious enterprise. Prior to Noah's time amusements were comparatively unknown. In putting his show on the road, our friend met with many serious drawbacks. In the first place, there was no road, literally, upon which he could travel. It was all water. In the next place, the facilities for advertising were so meagre that he could not post a town in advance, nor work up the newspapers -- a most important feature. He could not even employ an agent, although he did once send a dove out to discover whether there was a fair opening for the show. In the face of these and many other discouraging circumstances, Noah's Aquatic Menagerie completed a very successful season of forty days. Thousands would have been glad to attend the performances could they have gained admission, but it was by no means an easy thing to get into the Hippodrome -- that is, the Ark. Noah was a man of dry humor, and he rather objected to the rabble. It should be said that htere was no sideshow connected with the Aquatic Menagerie, neither did the candy-butcher then make melody in the land. As for the quality of the exhibition furnished, a fair ideas may be obtained from the curiosities presented above. There are the identical specimens of their kinds which Noah formerly owned. The are the only specimens, it may be added, which ever existed. The bird to the left is a cross between an ostrich and an umbrella. The centre figure presents the head of an owl with the body of a Cincinnati lion -- e.e., hog. The third quadruped bears some trifling resemblence to a kangaroo -- but he is of an antediluvian breed, and cannot be duplicated. The lobster-like reptile is equally wonderful and jimjamish, and altogether these relics of the original Noah's Aquatic Menagerie ought to excite both amazement and awe. - "Clipper Varieties," New York Clipper, April 13, 1878.
Is more powerful than a locomotive.
Is faster than a speeding bullet.
Walks on water.
Dictates policy to God.
Is more powerful than a switch engine.
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet.
Talks with God.
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine.
Is faster than a speeding BB.
Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool.
Talks to God if special request is approved.
Loses tug of war with a hand car.
Can fire a speeding bullet.
Is occasionally addressed by God.
Circus Prop Boss
Is run over by locomotives.
Can sometimes handle gun without inflicting self-injury.
Talks to animals.
Recognizes locomotives two out of three times.
Is not issued ammunition.
Can stay afloat with a life jacket.
Talks to walls.
Never rode a train.
Wets himself with a water gun.
Plays in mud puddles.
Mumbles to himself.
Kicks locomotives off the track.
Catches bullets in his teeth and eats them.
Freezes water with a single glance.
Is God . . .
Submitted by Jan Bickmore to Circus Report, November 5, 1973, p. 7.
Circus Historical Society, on the web since May 3, 2002.