A gravel-voiced barker describes the 1950 Circus as "indescribable, incalculable, and uncomparable." This is not true. The circus is very describable and sort of comparable. It is, however, improbable. A crocodile-skinned man married to a bearded lady is improbable; a Polar Bear skidding down a slide is improbable; two boys lying on their backs and spinning bridge tables with their feet are very, very improbable. An elephant, of course, is less probable than almost anything.
The current circus has reached new heights of improbability. There is a man called Unus, introduced with "the world will never see his likes again." Unus appears from the side door wearing a grey silk hat, grey trousers, grey tails, and white gloves. As if this weren't enough, he then stands on his forefinger.
Then there is Harold Alzana, who walks on a high wire. He also skips rope on a high wire. Finally, he rides a bike on a high wire, carrying a friend on his shoulders and two swinging trapezists from the hubs, Seventy-five feet down a uniformed attendant follows him with outstretched arms, just in case.
Since the first trapeze-fliers and tightrope-walkers, it has been obvious what the most improbable act of all would be. It would be a man who climbs up to the rafters and jumps down to the floor. The 1950 circus finally has one, named Leon de Rousseau or "Drop-along Placidly." That's all, he just jumps. He lands on a tiny sofa cushion and walks away.
Where a circus fails to be improbable, it fails to be a circus. There has been too much of the probable in Ringling's recent offerings. Almost one-third of the present show flaunts beautiful horses, waltzing girls, and "sixty alluring senoritas aloft" clinking sixty golden glockenspiels aloft. Partly because of this, the big-top festival aroma has been missing from recent shows. Gone are the lions and tigers and men shooting from cannons; in their place are sexy ballets. The aroma was better.