Contrary to popular belief, announcing that you're running off to join the circus does not have to be an empty threat. First off, it's completely doable. And secondly, there are so many reasons to do it:

  • You're bored at your desk job. So bored, that you're putting on stage plays with your office supplies. (Your leading man: Stanley Stapler.)

  • You've always wanted to know how they cram all those clowns into that tiny car, and you're willing to go to extremes to uncover the truth.

  • You come from a long line of jugglers and your parents would be very disappointed in you if you got a real job.

  • You're searching for a new boy/girlfriend, and those limber people on the flying trapeze are looking pretty good.

  • You've decided it's time to put your five nipples to use. Hey, you've been called a freak all your life; why not get paid for it?

Bottom line: you've always wanted to do it and now we're telling you that you can. So (cue booming announcer voice): "Ladies and Gentlemen…Kids of all Ages…we present you with the Greatest SYW on Earth." Please don't throw peanuts.


Before we move on to the actual process of joining the circus, we first must shatter some illusions. Circus life is not actually as carefree or glamorous as it may appear. True, it's a little more carefree and glamorous than, say, being a paralegal, but it involves lots of hard work and sacrifice too. Here are some things to expect:

  • You'll have to move into a circus trailer. It may be located next to the scary lion trailer, or worse yet, the gnarly-smelling elephant trailer.

  • You'll be expected to put on a smile and work weekdays, weekends, and some holidays, through fatigue and bad moods, even when there are only five people in the audience.

  • After each succession of performances is over, you pack up, move to a new town, and do it all over again. This goes on year-round.

The upside to all this is that you'll get to see the world (or at least the country), and the awe and applause of the audience will gratify your narcissism to no end. Plus, because of their nomadic lifestyle, circus people form tight-knit communities. Marriage between circus folk is common, and kids often travel with the crew and get schooled by their performing parents. So if you join the circus, you'll inherit a very special family of weirdos. Maybe you'll even get a date.

As can be expected given all the camaraderie, circuses have traditionally been very big on nepotism. The lion tamer's son would always be the first in line to inherit the whip when dad eventually retires/gets mauled. Fortunately, in these present Cirque du Soleil days, it's not uncommon for circuses to recruit new talent. So you've still got a chance (even if the bearded lady ain't your aunt).