Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Send in the clowns

I watched the documentary series on PBS called Circus, about the Big Apple Circus. It's fascinating really. I've been loving documentaries for a long time but this was really really great. To follow around a group of circus performers for a season was a really brilliant idea.
You expect to learn about how the circus functions and you expect some colorful stories about the colorful performers but it went deeper than that. It showed a degree of normalcy that's not readily associated with the circus and the people that work in it. Yes. There were certainly people there that I probably wouldn't be friends with or want to spend any sort of time with, but there were also people there that were incredibly normal, just living an eccentric existence as a performer.
It would be true though that the people who were most interesting were the clowns. Of course they were. They're guys who make people laugh for a living, of course what goes on behind that paint would be what is most interesting. Really, they were the heart of things and their stories were the most relateable. I think that's because, to some degree, we all wear masks (cut to Jim Carrey imitating the dry eyes guy) and finding the person underneath it is fascinating. After all, that's why talk show hosts have jobs: finding out things about people.

But this really was an interesting documentary and it made me want to go see the show, which I realize is the point. But really. There were parts that were so beautifully shot, the stories were interesting, the process was interesting and I feel like I've learned a little more about a different aspect of performing. That could be the theme of this semester for me: Learning a different aspect of performing. But yes, I would recommend it to anyone once it's on Netflix or DVD. And these clowns are terrifying like most clowns are.

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