Born to be Circus

Many performers who grew up in the circus find it difficult to imagine another kind of life. Luciano and Gladis Anastasini who are in charge of this year's dog act, are no exception. Seven generations of circus performers have preceded them. Both grew up in the circus, and it is the only life they have ever known. The question is, will their sons Adriano and Brando carry on the family legacy?

AIRED: November 16, 2010 | 0:53:41

Previously on Circus:

PAUL: I'm stepping out as artistic director.

BARRY: Guillaume's got a very tough act to follow.

There's nothing scarier.

MARTY: My brother wants

to go to medical school next year,

and he's moved on to the next thing.

JAKE: Marty is responding with anger.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm going through a divorce.


KWAME: Next week, I'm moving to Colorado with Heidi.

HEIDI: Kwame's never been to Colorado.

I'm not sure

he's even seen pictures.


♫So here we are♫

♫It's like we never really left the start♫

♫Time heals the wound, but then there's still a scar♫

♫To remind us of the way it's meant to be♫

♫Oh, sing a song♫

♫A melody for what has come and gone♫

♫Try to convince the choir to sing along♫

♫Here's to tomorrow or whatever gets you by♫

♫Oh, la, la, la♫

♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la♫

♫La, la, la♫

♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la♫

♫La, la, la♫

♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.♫

MAN: There's something so simple about the tent.

All you need is a cloth and some poles,

and all of a sudden, you have this space

where anything can happen.

MAN 2: From the outside, the tent doesn't look that big,

but from the inside, the illusion is massive.

You walk through the tunnels

and end up in this vast space inside.

MAN 3: This is very traditional circus.

They've got the dirt with the sawdust,

which a lot of circuses don't have that anymore.

PAUL: There's about something about traveling entertainment

that's very American.

There's a fragility to it.

There's this sense of here today, gone tomorrow.

Nothing left but wagon tracks and peanut sacks

when the circus leaves town.

LUCIANO: Being a circus family,

you should know how to weld, and you should know mechanic

and electricity, generator, concessions.

When you take all of that, and you put it into you,

that's why people say,

you've got sawdust in your blood.

It's not just performing.

It's because you have pride in what you do.

(cheering and applause)

MICHAEL LeCLAIR: It's always good to get on the road again.

And especially if you've been here for a while

like we have in New York.

I think everyone is ready for a break.

I'm taking three weeks off,

give my body a rest.

Well, I think your feet are gonna get a...

get a nice break now, which is good.

Yeah. What's walking in sand like? 'Cause I'll be in Jamaica.

MARK: I'm a New York City guy, and, uh, I'll miss it.

I'm gonna miss it a lot, but I look forward to Atlanta.

At least it'll be nice weather.

GUILLAUME: Hello, Joe. My name is Guillaume.

I'm with The Big Apple Circus.

Uh, I'll be out of the country

for the next two and a half weeks, but...

I'm really looking forward to Monte Carlo.

It's always a great town.

This is the best side of our profession.

The Monte Carlo Circus Festival

is, uh, probably the most important festival

for our industry.


This visit to Monte Carlo coincides

with the booking cycle for 2010, 2011 season.

The first production I will be making all the decisions.


Monte Carlo is fun because the mix of the location

and the buzz of having so many people

in the business in one place.

I just had to greet the new director, huh?

Well, thank you.

GUILLAUME: And everybody has the same passion

for the art form.

Hi. Hi.

Hello there.

GUILLAUME: Going to Monte Carlo with Paul is really business as usual.

We have been going together for many years.

PAUL: The Monte Carlo Festival

is a great gathering of circus people

from around the world who compete for prizes.

There's a very high quality, and there's a tension

in the air about who's gonna

emerge from this with the big prizes.

For years, it was overseen

by Prince Rainier, and now that he's gone,

his daughter, Princess Stephanie,

is in charge of the festival.

She is very passionate about it.

She adores the circus.

There's a group of seven jugglers, too, right?

PAUL: We have always kind of shared and discussed the acts.

He and I don't always agree.

There's gonna be a big distinction going forward.

He's gonna make the call finally.


(fanfare plays)

(whimsical music plays)

(cheering and applause)

(man shouts)


(man shouts)


GUILLAUME: When we look at an act,

first, I want the act to touch me.

The style of the acts--

we need something that will be appreciated

by families in the United States.

The expectations are not quite the same.

If an act gets too erotic, for example, this is something

we couldn't have.

PAUL: The audience responded. I...

He hangs and, yeah, when he does the pinch, reverses...

Oh, this was special. It's some special stuff.

He has her in his mouth, and they are both...

both bodies like this.

And now, the stress will be on me to say,

"Well, is it really good?

Can we really hire these people?"

So you didn't like them?

I didn't like them as much as that.

Yeah. I did.

I told him the other day, I said, "I realize now

"how valuable I have been at times just to be there

"for you to talk to me about the decision

you were about to make."

The whole night again tonight.

Let me tell you what your job is now. Okay.

I'm Paul Binder from The Big Apple Circus.

First of all, take my card. Uh-huh. Yes.

So you know who I am. Yes.

My colleague is Guillaume Dufresnoy.

Are you interested in coming to us, or...? MAN: Of course.

Of course. There you are.

Thank you. You're welcome.

MAN: He can get any artist in the world

to work at The Big Apple.

It's a very well-respected circus.

Howard. Ramon.

WOMAN: Most artists want to go to the States.

Where it used to be Ringling,

now I think it's Big Apple.

It has such a good reputation.

One of the best circuses in the world.

Uh, it's very famous.


WOMAN: To circus.

The circus. Circus.

Yes. Viva la cirque.

(indistinct chatter)

And to the company.

Morning, world.

MAN: Here we are in Atlanta, Georgia.

SMILEY: Beautiful site.

It's, like, 30 minutes from Atlanta.

On the drive down,

people seemed so friendly.

And their accents are funny.


Two-day vacation.

Now we're back to work.

(rhythmic beeping)

LeCLAIR: My name is Michael LeClair.

Right now, I'm the assistant tent master.

(rhythmic beeping and rattling)

My character as a tent master with my beard and the hat--

it just says, you know, "This guy's in the circus."

People look at me and say,

"Do you work here? Absolutely. You have to work here."


For me, it's simple.

I just fell in love with the big top.

I love setting up the tent.

I love the challenges. I love the weather.

Our worst enemy is the wind.

We hit Atlanta. We're in a vast, open parking lot.

(indistinct shouting)

Bring in the plastic!

Easy, papi.

Hey, did you bring in the plastic?

(indistinct chattering)

LeCLAIR: It's kind of hard

when there's two tent masters on site.

I left for two years to go do a circus in Europe, and

so Sergio's here.

Then my show in Europe folded.

So I'm back early.

The knots on their side poles-- they need to do my knots,

'cause they're not secure, not in my book.

Not if we get a good storm.

I went to Europe,

but I was always thinking about The Big Apple Circus.

I always say, I have a life sentence here.

It's home. It's family.

MAN: There is a certain thing that binds us in the circus,

and it's that blue tent.

It's a funny thing.

People... people probably don't even think about it,

especially if you're an outsider coming in.

JAKE: There definitely is a divide between the people

that have been in circus for their whole lives

and the people that have come to circus

via another avenue.

BARRY: I look at other people,

and I say, that's a real circus person.

Miss Zerbini is from a very long line of circus people.

Those are real circus people, steeped in the traditions.

ALIDA: My family, the Wallendas, have been in circus

from clowning to tightrope for seven generations.

I've been friends with Christine Zerbini

since we were kids.

We all grew up being circus kids.

I mean,

our families were in this business forever.

MARTY: It's who were are.

We don't become the circus performer.

WOMAN: You can't choose.

It's just, you're-you're it. That's who you are.

It's in your blood.

Slowly. Slowly.

Luciano's like straight-up circus, man.

He's just born circus.

He's, like, one of those, like,

fifth generation guys or whatever.

I don't know.

STEVE: For any of us who did not come from a circus family

or grow up in the circus,

there will always be a feeling

as if we're on the outside looking in.

LUCIANO: I'll be very, very happy, hysterical,

when Gladys comes back.

LUCIANO: My wife flew to see her mom 'cause her dad passed away,

so she goes and supports her mom.

My name is Luciano Anastasini.

I'm a circus performer

and I was born in the business.

Here with me right now is my two sons.

Adriano. Huh?

I think you need a shower.

About three days you didn't take a shower.

I've taken a shower.

I perform with my dogs

in a comedy routine.

Normally I get up in the morning

and I take out the dogs right away.

Now I tell Adriano to take out the dogs

and I'll do breakfast for the kids.

Then I start doing lunch or cleaning up.

It's a mess, you know.

Three guys-- what do you expect?


Papa, could I please have a cup?

Brando, get up and get it.

Papa's trying to lay down.

Adriano is 13...



...and Brando is eight.

Why? Give me that.

No, I want Coke.

No, later, later, not now. (groans)

Why can't I have Coke?

This is good.

Papa, no, I want Coke.

Then nothing.

I'm telling you I want Coke.

(Luciano speaks Italian)

BRANDO: I always have Coke,

even when Mama's here.

No, you don't.

Yeah, I do. Mama doesn't buy Coke.

BRANDO: Yes, she does.

I'm not doing anything to him.

LUCIANO: Brando...

(laughing): I'm not doing anything to him.

Brando, stand up, please.

He was choking me.

Yeah, yeah, sit down, eat some salad.

I already ate some salad.

No, you didn't.

BRANDO (laughing): Ow... ow.

Smell my feet...


(dog snarls)

Hey, hey, no.

Get off of me, you bad piggy.


The whole thing, Brando, the whole thing,

give me everything.



Show me.

It's right here, Dad, um, I put some...

What did you put?

I put that smell-- the...

No, no, no, no.

It's going to dry it out.

No, it's going to stain...

Exactly-- that's why I put...

MARTY: I don't know where my trailer is

'cause I moved into a new camper.

I don't even have my key to it

because it's in my bag that my brother has,

and I don't... can't find him either, so...

JAKE: My brother and I have

separate trailers now.

I moved into it, like, a day before I left,

so that's why, like, I think this...

MARTY: Definitely better that we're living separately.

I don't have my key.

JAKE: He was a little bit agitated because...

he didn't feel like I was practicing enough

and committing enough of myself to the performance.

MARTY: It's hard to live and work with someone, I mean,

'cause we're just under so much pressure sometimes here,

and it's like, you know, we get hurt or we're angry

and we still have to work.

The last thing we need is, when we're pissed off,

to, like, go back and live in a tiny little trailer together.

JAKE: Ironically, my brother and I grew up

engaged in a circus discipline, but this is our first time

working in a traditional circus,

doing shows every single night.

The most heated moments

were always immediately after the performance didn't go

as well as Marty would have liked.

He would approach me aggressively,

um, and, and yell at me.

There was one moment

where I felt threatened and I felt attacked

and he wasn't leaving and so I responded

physically, and I sort of... I had never done that before,

but I just... I pushed him out of the way.

Um, so Marty involves the management.

GUILLAUME: When they came to us, they came to us with

simply resigning and saying,

"That's it. We're leaving at the end of the contract."

JAKE: Paul and Guillaume were

very, very surprised,

I mean, because, from everyone's perspective,

we were still doing a great job in the ring.

GUILLAUME: Them resigning was more a cry for help

than just really resigning.

We were able to back out of that.

We found a therapist they could see and then we-- they expressed

that living together was particularly difficult

and we could free up a camper in Atlanta.

Someone's going to come and let me in.

What? Someone's coming to let me in

because I don't think I have my keys with me anywhere.

SMILEY: It's gotten to the point where everybody knows.

Everybody knows that they don't get along.

There's a certain group of people that hang out with Jake,

and there's a certain group of people

that mainly hang out with Marty.

That's just the way it is.


Thank you so much.

I'm home. (chuckles)

I had my key in here the whole time.


I feel bad.

WOMAN: Okay, any questions?

Okay, if there's no questions, let's get ready to open.

GLEN: My name is Glen Heroy and I am from New York City, New York.

I am a newbie to the circus.

When I'm not a clown in the circus, I work

for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program

created by Michael Christensen, one of the cofounders.

Two, three days a week,

teams of clowns do clown rounds.

Hello, I'm Dr. Bovine.

What the heck are you doing in my hospital?

Clown Care is

clowning at a very pure, honest place.

(indistinct chatter)

Making children forget

that they're sick for five minutes.

(indistinct chatter)


It's an amazing place to act like an idiot...

(laughing): and get a paycheck.

Oh... Oh...


It's just crazy.

I keep saying I'm gonna get a real job one day.

The circus might be just a job for some people--

they grow up in the circus--

but it's really a source of pride for me

that I am in this ring

and a huge responsibility.

I think Atlanta is amazing.

The audiences are unbelievably wonderful.

(audience cheering)

On break, I sat on the beach and read four books.

(lively music playing)

(audience clapping rhythmically to music)

In that time I decided to completely wean myself

off all my medicine.

Mood stabilizers and antidepressants

and things that I had been put on

when my mother was actively dying in a dementia home.

(cheering and applause)

And it might be the stupidest time in the world

to not take them.

But it's also the audiences here have been amazing,

and perhaps the mood stabilizers were keeping me

from feeling super happy

as well as keeping me from feeling super sad.

And running the show

while not having any chemical obstacles--

it's really a joyous thing.

And I know I've got five minutes

and I know I've got to get

from point A to point B in the piece

that I'm doing, but...

all the time behind my eyes in the back of my head

I'm laughing and having the time of my life.


And to have it work, I find myself giddy

and I find endorphins kicking in

and I really kind of

live to play with the kids in the ring.

It is incredible to be in the ring.

You go like this, put this here,

this goes first.

Luciano, did you get mauled by a tiger or something?

What's up with your shirt?

Oh, it's my wife when she came back.

(both laughing)

I wish, I wish.

That Gladys.

GLADYS: My name is Gladys España Anastasini.

I'm from Mexico City.

LUCIANO: I'm originally Italian,

but I was born in Barcelona, Spain.

I'm a eighth-generation circus.

I'm eighth generation.

♫When I first met you, baby♫

♫I had to keep you under my hat...♫

GLADYS: It was in Monte Carlo-- the first time that I see him.

It wasn't love at first sight, no.

I never think I'm gonna marry him.

Never, never.

♫Not even my closest friends could know♫

♫Exactly what was goin' down...♫

LUCIANO: At Monte Carlo,

she was doing the flying trapeze.

It was a passion for me to do flying trapeze.

The quality of the flying was incredible, like a ballet...

I like the food.

...and everything was very elegant.

Compared with people nowadays,

they're still the high top-rated in flying acts.

♫Now I can tell the world♫

♫I'm so in love with you...♫

I was very young.

I was 21.

He was good-looking.

LUCIANO: I like how she looked

and how she presented herself.

This is one of the thing I fall in love with him.

Because he look like a... like a...

like... mad,

and he's not like that.

He's completely the opposite.

This is one of the things he have.

(speaking indistinctly)

Gladys wears the pants.

No, Luciano.

She's the boss.

No, Luciano.

No, I mean, he have the pants.

I have pants, too, but he have the pants.


No, no, Luciano, Luciano.

LUCIANO: She does all...

the financial, the taxes, and paperwork.

I maintain the motor home and the dogs and the props

and looking for work.

GLADYS: Nobody have the pants.

He have to listen to me, better he listen to me,

'cause he don't listen to me, I'm mad.

And he don't want to see me mad.

And me, either-- I don't want to see him mad.

'Cause he's mad, oh, my God, he's mad.





PAUL: There are great people

that come out of the circus families,

and they have the blood.

But, you know, there are people as well

who come from outside the circus.

Like, look at Sarah Schwartz.

She's amazing.

She brings something to the table every day.

Her spirit is there every day.


the blood has come to her.

But she wasn't born that way.


SARAH: We're going up on the mountain now.

I go every year, climbing up the mountain.

Go, boy. Come on.


(indistinct chattering)

SARAH: My mother is a teacher,

and my family is seven generations of teachers.


I like children,

and they like me,

and so we spend time together.

It's sure that after the season I'd like to have a baby.

To me, it's important

to have a family because I don't like to be alone.

David will sleep good tonight.

I like to share...


there is nothing nicer than sharing...

with your boyfriend and even if you can share with children.

It's... I mean, it's beautiful.

Oh, look, it's a bird there. (gasps)

GIRL: A eagle!

SARAH: No, it's not a eagle.

BOY: It's a... It's a...

I don't know... I don't know how you say that.

I don't want to change life.

There's no better place to grow up than in the circus.

You have usually a bunch of kids that stick together.

You're never lonely.

You change cities; you learn many languages.

It's great.

(trumpet playing "When the Saints Go Marching In")

(girl speaks indistinctly)

(continues playing "When the Saints Go Marching In")

(trumpet continues in distance)

(trumpet continues in distance)

GLEN (laughs): I really can't stand living this close to other people.

It's really kind of brutal.

I have an alternate sleep cycle,

so often when I'm trying to rest,

you get woken up by screaming kids or...

people who are just yelling from trailer to trailer

about what they're gonna be doing.

Everybody knows everybody else's business,

and everybody's into everybody else,

and everybody has comments

and everybody's coming and going,

and that's really not part of my... makeup.

It's very... hit-and-miss

when you want to leave the trailer

and have alone time.

Sometimes no one's around,

and you can just kind of scurry away.

And other times

you just walk into social settings.


You get to walk around at night, and it's lovely.

Everyone's asleep,

and it's really quiet except for the gray water pumps.

(pumps clacking rhythmically)

And I go to the tent. No one knows I'm there.


Mark knows I get quiet; he knows I get moody, and...

that I get frustrated with a piece sometimes

and frustrated with the situation of how...

I'm invisible sometimes

on the lot.

We're backstage, and Andre gives the signal to go

by going up to Mark and saying, "Mark, it's time,"

and I'm standing right there.

The other day I just yelled,

"I'm invisible and I'm pissed,

and I want people to talk to me."


I called my father.

I called him up

and told him where I am, and until when,

and if he wanted to come by and see the show.

It would be nice.

He hasn't seen me do anything since I was 14.

(rain falling, thunder rumbling)

OFFICER: There's a big storm

coming from Alabama this way.

We are in a severe weather tornado warning right now,

so there might be tornados or lightning storms.

We'll do the siren,

and we'll start making announcements

if there's a tornado in the area.

WOMAN: In the circus families,

if the tent is in a storm and it's falling down,

the performers help.

Last year the wind pick up so hard,

and the tent, it starts getting loose,

so it was

a feeling to run and help and give them a hand

because if this thing fly out,

this where you going to work tomorrow.

This your home, you know?

You-you eat from there.

OFFICER: If we have something,

y'all just head right for that building over there.

The restroom building, it's...

it's solid rock almost.

WOMAN: And most of the other performers,

and there was great performers, but they come from gymnastics

or they didn't born in the circus,

and they just run to the trailers,

lock themselves in the trailers.

Now we got a little wind picking up.

MAN: Anybody who has worked in the circus,

no matter what their role is,

gets nervous when there's a storm.

And I seen it happen a long time ago

in a different circus, but the tent flew away.

LeCLAIR: The tent's moving; you can see it.

This tent is rated for...

I believe about 70 miles an hour, so...

It can take a hell of a hit.

Basically, we secure the tent,

make sure all the lacings are closed properly,

and then we just wait.


I love a rainy night.

(thunder crashes)

♫Hovering by my suitcase♫

♫Trying to find a warm place♫

♫To spend the night♫

♫Heavy raindrops falling♫

♫Seems I hear your voice calling♫

♫It's all right...♫

It's just a severe thunderstorm; that's it so far.

Heavy rain and thunder. Whew!

♫A rainy night♫

♫In Georgia♫

(thunder crashes) ♫A rainy night in Georgia♫

♫Lord, I believe♫

♫It's raining all over the world...♫

(thunder crashing)

LUCIANO: This is my life.

I'm part of this.

It's, like, me and the circus tent

and trucks and trailers.

'Cause this is where we get

our bread and butter.

(soft music playing)

I believe very strongly there are circus people,

that they give their life

and their soul for the sawdust.

(soft music continues)

(lively music playing)

STEVE: There are not that many dog acts

in the world of circus.


I love them.

Luciano is an earthy man... (chuckles)

and comes from a long line of circus performers.

I love Gladys, his wife,

and I love the kids.

I love the dogs.


I know it looks like chaos in the ring,

but it is organized bedlam.

They actually are trained. (chuckles)


There is a structure to that gag.

And I call it a gag

because Luciano plays it for the laughs,

and he's a very good physical comedian.


LUCIANO: The role of the buffoon, I enjoy it.

It's a role that it's easy to get the people to laugh.


It was, uh...

...about 13, 14 years ago...


...and I was doing the wheel, the hamster act.

My brother was on this side

and Luciano was on this side.

It wasn't rotating,

and just before, uh, they announce us,

I jump forward to stop the rotation.

What happened on that date,

they put anybody in the spotlight.

LUCIANO: And I let them know that, you know,

"Don't put the lights in my face.

Put them half-body down."

But they would change.

They would change operator every show.

And one of the spotlights, when he turned,

he get the white and he was, like, blind.

So, I came all the way from the top-- 50 feet.

When I saw the floor, I put my right arm

right in front of my head.

And that was it.

He broke this bone here in the arm.

And one of the bones, they get out.

Ribs went into the lung.

It was very bad, the screaming, very bad.

The hospital was about two blocks away.

He was screaming and I was kind of, like, following him.

The soon as I get in the big room,

and he get my hand.

Like, he don't let me go.

It was the time that,

supposedly, uh, they was going to lose me.

To be there sitting all night with my hand

because he don't let my hand out.

They cut me under the belly button

and put a little camera, tube camera,

to find out the insides.

And they realized that the liver was in my neck.

So, they brought that down and...

And I went, "Yee-haw! I feel better."


LUCIANO: Took me two years to recuperate, but I

couldn't do nothing with this arm,

'cause it was solid.

Let's go.

Toby, here. Lily.

GLADYS: He start to get dogs.

LUCIANO: I go to the pound.

I go maybe three, four times.

GLADYS: He start to have the idea to doing a dog act.

I said, "No, look, we're still young.

We can do this. We can do that."

And, no, he want bad. Why?

Because he really... he really likes dogs.

LUCIANO: Alé! Good girl.


Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!


I start looking for dogs.

And whatever they did, "Good boy."

Here, come here.

Here, jump.

Dang it. Good boy!

Alé up!

Good boy! Slow down, slow down.

We practice twice a day.

A month and a half-- boom, I had the act done.

(shouting command)

I didn't have the training that time.

I didn't dress up like an old-fashioned ringmaster.

I just was me.

(shouts command)

One day I was like, "Ah...

there's something missing to this. What's missing?"


And Adriano goes,

"What's missing, Dad?

"You should come out like Dumbo, the movie.

"You should come out on a little choo-choo train,

and you should be the ringmaster."

So, I said, "Adriano...

you got a point."

(cheering, circus music plays)


Right now, I do about

five and a half minutes, maybe six.

And that little time out there beats

24 hours outside cleaning

and all that.

The audience give me enough vitamins when I do this,

they give me, uh, satisfaction.


It's a good meal

at the good restaurant.

He's never going to leave this...

this kind of life.


Because he have it in the blood,

like me.

MARTY: It's pretty similar to being in a trailer.


You know, it's small, but you get used to it.

JAKE: I like having my own space.

I think I'd have to say this probably

feels the most like home

out of all the places that I've stayed

over the past six or seven years.

I don't realize how small it is until someone else

comes in the camper, and then I realize how small it is.

My brother and I aren't very good roommates.

I don't like there to be

dirty dishes in the sink and things like that.

Uh, so when I was living with him,

I felt like it was just always that way.

JAKE: This was Marty's room.

Um, this is the side of the room that I put all of my books.

I have a ridiculous amount, and I haven't figured

how I'm going to organize them yet.

MARTY: What's important is that we do our show well.

It's not really important who does the dishes.

And, um, it's-it's just a waste of energy

and it aggravates problems that we have with work.

So, it's just much better

to remove those areas of tension.

JAKE: We're only out there for eight minutes a show,

so I have had a lot of time to read and to write.

We're just... we're not practicing together now.

We're just practicing, um...

You know, I'm practicing by myself.

I'm not sure if he's practicing, but...

This is one of the books that I've been reading recently:

Reinhold Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society.

The Wealth of Nations,

Democracy and Social Ethics.

Poems, um, by Pablo Neruda.

I have so many... Women and Gender in Islam

is something that I've read recently.

MARTY: I am working on something new.

Something that would involve, um, a lot more dance.


It's really hard to stand back and see it

from any sort of objective perspective.

Um, but what I can say is that what I'm working on is...

Nothing like it's been done before.

So that's cool, you know?

JAKE: I think Marty fits in the circus world better

right now than I do.

I feel like I'm an outsider.

I don't really fit in in the circus.

Obviously, I mean, I, you know...

How many circus performers are going to medical school?

And I'm not going to fit in completely with my peers

at medical school.

I am nearing the end of the application process.

So far, it's going really well.

And I'm going to interview at UCSF

in San Francisco.

Um, and right now, that's probably my top choice.

MARTY: But we cut out the last two and a half minutes of our act.


It takes a lot of effort to maintain

because it's a high level of technique, and my brother

didn't want to practice enough to be able to maintain it.

So, we just decided with Paul that it's fine.

Cut it out.

I think it's-it's unfortunate that we're not doing it,

but, um, but, you know, it's, it's not, it's not just my act.

It's both of our act, so we have to, um,

you know, we have to make, um...

compromises and things, so...

Yeah, get ready. It's go time.


BRANDO: This whole circus, like, travel,

it can drive anywhere.

And it's fun just traveling, 'cause then

there's new places you can see.

It's going next to, um...

(whispers): Where's it going?

Where are we going? Where are we going to now?

New Jersey.

We're going to New Jersey.

Boston. Boston. I heard a lot

about Boston that I'd like to see.

BARRY: They say when they see

the first ads in Boston for the Big Apple Circus,

they know that spring is around the corner,

and it lifts the spirit.


...through my travel and meet people.

Long Island.

I had one or two women

in every city I went my very first year.

Which was good, but it got expensive.

Because they all want to come and do this, do that, so...

I cut it down to, like, three now.

Now, we get to drive 800 miles.


LUCIANO: It's going to be hard.

It's going to be difficult after the Big Apple.

There's a lot of people losing jobs,

a lot of people looking for jobs, you know?

If really hard times come along

and I'm desperate, I'll stop in any little town.

Buy my permits, find a spot

and work right there.

Just my acts.

Between Brando,

Adriano and Gladys and myself,

we can do about an hour and 45 minutes.

We'll charge maybe two dollars, three dollars.

We're making good money here,

but as it comes, it goes.

The dog act is supporting

the circus that we have with my brother.

STEVE: One aspect of circus

is that these multigenerational circus artists

who come from these huge, extended families

form their own circuses

out of necessity.

There has to be work

when there's not a wonderful contract

like the Big Apple Circus.

ELECTRONIC VOICE: Now, turn right.

STEVE: In Luciano and Gladys' case,

both sides of that family have circuses.

And this is an expensive business to be in.

The equipment, the insurance,

the props, the costumes, the music, et cetera.

It's not as easy to be the clown when you have to run the circus.

BRANDO: Something's wrong.


BRANDO: Tell them we have to go to the circus.

Oh, yeah. That's gonna help. (laughter)

Oh, we're with the circus.

Oh, oh. Come on through.

GLADYS: You made me laugh, Brando.

38B. Let's take 38B.

(speaking Spanish)

(indistinct voice over radio)

We're listening to you now.


You got us lost before, so why not again?


BRANDO: That is gross.

For sure, they eat something

they don't supposed to eat it.

How many more miles?

(Gladys speaking Spanish)


You should go, "Are we there yet?"

Are we there yet? No.

So it's, like, almost like two days driving.

♫Late at night♫

♫Sleeping 'neath the stars♫

♫Wake up in the morning♫

♫Wonder where you are♫

♫Well, the little town...♫

♫City's put you down♫

♫They all got the money♫

Hey, guys, over here, over here. Come on, come on.

♫The circus comes to town♫

(garbled radio transmission)

♫Hey, baby, it's a mean old world♫

♫For a circus boy♫

♫And a circus girl♫


♫Mm, mm-mm, mm♫

♫Mm-mm, mm-mm, mm♫

♫Mm, mm, mm♫

♫Mm, mm, mm, mm.♫

(lively instrumental music playing)

GLEN: There I was in the middle of leader band.

And I'm just turned around to look at my fingers.

I spun on my left leg,

and my calf just popped.

WOMAN: Anything in your knee?

Nope. No. That doesn't hurt at all?

MAN: You have an interesting title as I understand it.


You are Chief Clown.

I am, um... Sloan-Kettering. I am.

That is killing me right there.

Uh. Yeah.

See, your-your fame...

Precedes me. precedes you.

Pull back, it hurts worse?

Yeah. Like, is that what... that...

Yeah, that's just really bad.

See, you-you probably either pulled some of the muscles...

Mm-hmm. ...or one of the smaller tendons.


So, painkillers, off your feet for the next

couple of days, crutches as needed.

GLEN: Yeah.

I'm gonna be on crutches for a while.

I said, "How about Wednesday

of next week is the next, you know, big push?"

And he said, "Sure. As long as you don't do things

like jump around or do ballet moves."

I was, like, "Okay."

So, um, you guys fight it out

over who wants to do leader band.

(whimsical instrumental music plays)

MARK: I thought I had a good grasp of it

until I missed the first cue with the band.

You know, the first cue.

I picked a very tough kid.

Not into playing at all.


(scattered laughter)

I think the best thing to do when you find a kid

that doesn't want to play is acknowledge that

and turn it into a positive.

(percussion plays)

(band plays fast-paced lively tune)

I did think at one point,

"Please, kid, just give me a break.

Move. Please."

(music stops)

(band plays fanfare, applause)

It was tricky, you know.

Tomorrow will be better.

GLEN: You know, I can take another month off

if you're having a good time doing leader band.

MARK (laughs): That's funny.

(laughs) And what have you learned

about Glen from doing leader band?

Uh, it's exhausting, isn't it?

It's... Yeah!

I am, I am dripping wet when I come back.

Oh, that's great.


'Cause you needed to lose weight.

I really do.

You're not mad at me, right?


Okay, good.

I'm just exci... I'm just, you know,

excited to let, to know when you're coming back, you know?

It really did turn into The Mark Gindick Show.

I'm, like, "It's nice," you know?

I like working, but the same time, you know.

(cheering and laughter)

(cymbals crash)

(laughter and applause)

(trombone plays descending glissando, cymbal crash)

JAKE: I admire Mark so much

because he is doing such an amazing job filling in.

I mean, he carries the show.

Latest I heard about Glen was that the doctor

told him that it'd be two weeks.

Two more weeks out.

So I think it's,

everyone is sort of, uh, wondering.

It's not very clear, uh, what's wrong with him.

GLEN: From crutches to cane to Vespa; actually,

it's easier for me to get around on the Vespa.

God, how it must look.

"Oh, there's Glen,

and he's on disability and workman's comp."

The doctor wanted me to take more time off.

He said I could, I could take up to six weeks.

He said, "Give it a month."

So shooting to go in next week.

MARK: When you're doing an act as a clown,

you start getting emotionally attached to something.

And with leader band, you put so much work into it,

and then just to hand it back, it's like

babysitting a puppy, you know what I mean?

Are you gonna, you want to get attached to this puppy?

But you have to return the puppy at the end.

What'd I miss?

MARK: Hey...! Nice hat.

Thank you. I don't want to get beaten up by the locals.


It's good to see you.

Nice to see you.

Oh, it's good to see you.

How are you feeling? My leg hurts.

MARK: There's a side to me that,

that really enjoyed it

and had a good time, and, and, uh, I'll miss that, of course.

I miss the good times, but there's other good times.

He did great.

Aw... that's my agent.


Did you miss us?

You. I missed you.

(mimics voice breaking): Missed me? I missed you.

(both mimic sobs)

GLEN: Oh-oh, watch out.

That's love.

That's the boss. The boss.

Tell him, "Two clowns, two clowns."

Let's do this in our time.


GLEN: It's a big emotional release... (chuckles) be back in the ring again.

It just feels so good to be back.

I'm glad my other leg didn't tear.

It felt like I was doing what I was born to do.

ANNOUNCER: Next on Circus:

This is my last year in Big Apple Circus.

Well, you never know what's going to come in the future.

LUCIANO: This will be

my first time out of the ring.

I don't know, but he's really going to miss that.

GUILLAUME: What I think our audience doesn't realize

is that she is risking her life every show.

is that she is risking her life every show.


  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv


Variety Studio: Actors on Actors
Under a Minute
Theater Talk
Theater of The Mind Radio Drama
The Historic Attucks Theatre: Apollo of the South
State of the Arts
Stage Players
Shakespeare Uncovered
Open Studio with Jared Bowen
On Stage
Mark Twain Prize
Little Country Theatre: 100 Years at NDSU
Light Falls