Clowning around pays off for circus hopefuls

Tue Apr 7, 2009 5:44pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Unemployment hit 8.5 percent and jobs are disappearing across the country but at least one industry is looking for new talent -- the circus.

About two dozen hopefuls sporting big noses, brightly colored hair, baggy pants and oversized shoes did their best to fulfill a childhood ambition when they auditioned to become a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

"It's been a life-long dream," said Kyle Barker, a 27-year-old from Chicago who already looked the part with a curly wig and painted face.

He's had several jobs, including being a customer service representative, but Barker said nothing could compare to being a clown.

Brooklyn-born Julius Carallo, 62, agrees.

He's been a clown for 15 years in smaller circuses but was hoping to make it into the big time at the audition.

"This is an opportunity to work with the greatest show on earth," he said.

After performing comedy routines with each other and veteran circus clowns, each hopeful was given a three-minute solo routine to prove they had what it takes.   Continued...

<p>Clown hopefuls gather to audition with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum &amp; Bailey's Clown College in Madison Square Garden, New York April 7, 2009. REUTERS/Feld Entertainment/Handout</p>