Kelly Miller Circus, Chesterton IN

I have been following Steve Copeland’s blog for some time, but inexplicably missed their show when it was in the NY area.  (for those that don’t know, Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs are the clowns currently on the Kelly-Miller Circus.)

This week we’re on vacation in Chicago/Indiana with my wife’s family, and my step-mother-in-law says “Oh I think there’s a circus somewhere around.”   Lo and behold it’s the Kelly Miller Circus.

My wife and son are inveterate circus goers, and this time we had 3 more companions, my sister-in-law from California and her two kids, who had never seen a circus before.  Their dad couldn’t come, because he was participating in a fantasy football draft.  (and he’s pretty opinionated about animals in circuses, and might not have come anyway.)  Before the show, the other kids were taking their cues from their dad, and were kind of anti-circus.  We asked that they keep an open mind, and for the most part they were won over.  Most importantly, they loved the clowns!

There were 5 types of animals presented in the show– elephants, camels, tigers, dogs, and ponies.   My Brother-in-law and I had a discussion about it prior to the show,  and he was mostly against the elephants and tigers, wild animal acts where it might be considered cruel to keep the animals locked up.  (We didn’t discuss camels, but he agreed that horses and dogs were something else.  I think you could include camels with horses– they have been domesticated just as long.  It was great to see the camels do a liberty act.  They are so much bigger and ganglier than horses, it was very impressive.

It is harder to make the case for tigers and elephants.  Most of the tigers and elephants  in shows are born into domestication, or rescued.  Very few (if any) are actually captured from the wild. They wouldn’t make it in the wild, and being on the circus is certainly a better alternative to being destroyed.   I can also make an educational case, that for many kids this is their one up close and personal chance to see the animals in action.  (although animal planet does a fairly good job in this regard also.

Ultimately, I’m not in the business of convincing people.  And those that don’t want to be convinced won’t be.  And I respect that.  Suffice to say, I’m okay with animals in shows, when they are good shows, and this one definitely is.

A couple of notes about the clowning.  Steve and Ryan performed an opening spec number with trumpets, an artist gag, a water gag, a very well-done bendover  horse, and maybe one other act.  Everything they did showed off chemistry and teamwork between the two of them.  Their spitting water gag was particularly funny, as it showed off that kind of burning one upmanship that is so classic.

I also need to mention the Risley act, which was the Poema family from Argentina– it was spectacularly done.

I loved the show.  I thought it was really well put together, and there were no dog acts in the show (there were actually two, but they were both excellent.)  Every act was good, the clowns were funny, the house was full, it wasn’t too hot, there was a breeze.

In short, it was a perfect summer evening at the circus.

They’ll be in the Chicago area in a couple of weeks, make sure to check them out if you are in the area.

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