BY: Bill McMorris
January 30, 2013
We’re less than 30 seconds into a Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey show at Miami’s American Airlines Arena and Ashley Smith is nearly in tears.
“He’s singing this live you know,” the Ringling Brothers publicist says of the barrel-chested ringmaster belting the national anthem. As part of the act, he constantly turns to face a female acrobat circling the ring while carrying an American flag. “Kelly Ann looks gorgeous,” she adds.
“Gorgeous” Kelly Ann is not the flag-waving acrobat but the 9,000-pound elephant carrying her in a circle.
For the next two hours, 7,500 children will witness humans perform death-defying feats of strength and agility, while beasts, well, manage not to eat their human counterparts. No child exhibits the intensity, zeal, and genuine wonder of Smith.
Gosh is she disappointing.
I thought I was meeting some cigar-chomping sadist that would live up to the “sucker born every minute” mantra apocryphally attributed to P.T. Barnum. Instead, I found a bunch of animal-loving NYU grads whose sentimental regard for nature makes me cringe.