That title is the four-word review offered by my 2-and-a-half year-old, Jack, after we left the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, which debuted at the 1st Mariner Arena last night. As it turns out, this was the first trip to the circus for both Jack and me. As a kid, my parents didn't take us to the circus because they didn't like the way the animals were treated. I've always been uncomfortable with that too, but I wanted to check out the show first-hand before deciding how I felt.
We took the light rail down to the arena (read about that on my other blog) and found our way past the blizzard of blinding light-up toys to our seats, about ten rows up from the floor. At first, Jack was scared and overwhelmed by all the lights and loud noises, clutching me close, but he relaxed after a while and really loved parts of the show.
The animal routines were unnerving: When you're watching a horse skittishly, uncomfortably trying to walk on its hind legs, you can only wonder what has been done to induce him to do so on command.
By and large, we enjoyed the human routines most. Jack loved the acrobats and the clowns, and I was legitimately blown away by the seven motorcyclists zooming at top speeds in different orbits inside a tiny sphere (seriously, I don't know how they avoid crashing; There must be a trick - fill me in if you know). I fell even deeper in love with my little boy when, during the motorcycle routine, as everyone else oohed and aahed, my music-lover spotted the little pit of musicians in the corner of the arena: "Daddy look! Guitar! Trumpet!"
Besides the animal routines, there were some truly inappropriate moments. One early clown routine featured a mock trapeze artist and the bumbling clowns' attempts to help her. At one point, she slips and is being strangled by her scarf. She spends several seconds gasping for air (dieing?) as the clowns try to free her. A minute later, her leotard gets caught on the trapeze and is ripped off, leaving her in basically a thong and a sports bra. What is this, 'Zapped!'?
The routine where neon-attired acrobats (pictured above) bounce around on giant inner tubes—on and off each others shoulders, among other places—was our favorite. But even then, something was off: The routine was accompanied by wordless versions of pop songs like Rihanna's "Shut Up and Drive" and, most bizarrely, The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up." Not exactly a song you want to sing along to with your toddler.
Not surprisingly, Jack got very tired by intermission, so we left—missing the tigers, among other things. It was a fun experience, though I'm still not sure whether it'll be a regular one for us. In its undeniable wisdom, I think Jack's review said it all.
[photo courtesy Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey]