© 2023 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ask a circus performer

Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson performs in the closing number on the final day of the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus in Uniondale, New York.
Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson performs in the closing number on the final day of the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus in Uniondale, New York.

On May 21, 2017, the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus told the world the tent was coming down. After 146 years, declining ticket sales and rising transportation costs forced the circus to close. 

But it is coming back this fall. Tour dates were announced last month. And the new circus tour will be withoutanimals.

Johnathan Lee Iverson knows the ups and downs of this world all too well. He was the ringmaster at Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey for nearly 20 years. He was the youngest ringmaster in the history of the company at age 22 and the first African-American to hold the position.

Ironically enough, I will be the very last voice in the 146-year history of this show, so I will be the last person you hear to speak of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ — which is a wild little paradox, to be a first and a last at the same time. I don’t know too many people who can say that, in any industry.

Veronica Blair recognizes the importance of African-Americans trailblazing in the circus industry. The aerialist started The Uncle Junior Project, which documents the histories of Black circus performers.

We assemble a whip master, aerialist, clown, and ringmaster to answer your questions.

 

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Tags
Chris Remington knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.