Life on the Road

Life on tour with
Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey
isn't for everyone.
The days are long, but the rewards are great.
Even though you may perform your
clown gag for the sixth time in a given week,
your material will thrill and delight
each new audience.
You may also have the unique opportunity
to watch a grumpy grandfather
in the third row explode into laughter
at one of your pranks.

     Joining Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey as a member of Clown Alley is like moving to a "traveling small town".  A specially designed 52-car train is your new home. Your neighbors may be from Mexico, Germany, Sweden, the People's Republic of China, and Texas. You're in good company with 100 four-legged animals, 1,000 costumes, and 25,000 yards of rope and wire. A school teacher, a chaplain and a cook will also travel with you.

     As an apprentice clown, your living space is with fellow clowns. Men and women are housed separately. Your new living quarters are small, but it's a private getaway and a place to call your own.

     With a new international family, you'll get to know performing greats from around the world. You may learn Russian or the fine art of French cooking. You will also speak a common language, whether it's a discussion about a "blow-off" (grand finale), a "First of May" (newcomer to the circus) or "jackpots" (tall tales about the circus).

     The tour is year-round, 11 months a year. You'll probably travel 2 to 3 days each week, covering about 13,000 miles and visiting as many as 45 cities each year.

     Chances are good that you will travel through or near your hometown, and your folks and even your high school drama teacher will be able to see your performing debut.

     While you'll receive one day off each week, travel time between cities gives you a chance to curl up with a good book or experiment with a new recipe. Some performers choose to drive their private cars between cities to provide more mobility.

     You'll visit large metropolitan areas, such as New York City and Los Angeles, and smaller towns as well. Being on the road gives you a chance to see almost all of the 50 states. In some cities, you'll probably visit the local museum or neighborhood mall. However, many times your top priority will be locating a laundromat or an all-night grocery store.

     Since Ringling Bros. conducts a wide range of programs for people who cannot attend an arena performance, you may have the chance to join in one of the hundreds of goodwill visits that we make each year to prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and schools for the disabled. Whether it's a touch tour for the blind or a special performance for the deaf, you will always be enriched and rewarded by the responses of these very special audiences.

     Flexibility is probably the best word to characterize life on the road  with the Greatest Show On Earth. You may encounter a freak March snowstorm in Atlanta, 120-degree heat in Phoenix in the summer, or a balmy New Years Eve in Miami.

     One veteran of the road with the Greatest Show On Earth characterized life this way: "Every day brings something new... a different audience, an improved performance or a special touch tour for the blind. But most of all, I'm in company of the world's greatest performers -- professionals -- people who care as much as I do about giving 100 percent at each performance."