Muppet Wiki

Elmo walks the tightrope.

Harvey Korman trains Thog.

The Great Fentini.

Back from a day at the circus.

Big Bird walks the tightrope.

Elmo as a circus dog.

Muppet Babies Circus Plush.

Reporter Wolle at the circus.

Elmo as a juggler

A circus poster in the Subway.

The Sesame Street Mix or Match Storybook

Muppets Babies PVC set.

The Sesame Street Dictionary visits the Circus.

The Muppet Babies comic book.

"Zirkus Samson" on Sesamstrasse.

Lion tamer Fozzie Bear.


Sesame Street Circus Alphabet

The "Circus Alphabet."

Sesamstrasse’s fourth TV movie Alarm im Zirkus.

Mr. Mo's Circus, featuring Eenie, Meenie and Miney, in Mother Goose Stories

The Circus is a group of performers, including but not limited to acrobats, clowns, animal acts, jugglers, and daredevils who perform in a troupe, often in multiple rings or arenas, and led by a Ringmaster. The Circus dates back to ancient Rome, where it consisted of horse and chariot races, and China where they consisted of primarily acrobatic acts.

The first western circus opened in Philadelphia in 1793, but it was P.T. Barnum who was the pioneer of what audiences are familiar with today. Upon his death and subsequent merger of his circus with that of James Anthony Bailey, a more familiar circus was born, with a large canvas tent, human oddities for a sideshow, and multiple rings housing continuous acts. In 1919, the Barnum and Bailey show merged with the Ringling Brothers show, to form the quintessential American circus, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The modern circus is an amalgam other influences as well. Bands of Gypsies often brought with them circus skills and trained animals while traveling Britain, and Antonio Franconi, the founder of the French circus, is often credited as a co-creator of the modern circus. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was also a precursor to the circus we are now familiar with.

While often touted as an evening of excitement and fun, not all is always happy with the circus. Clowns were often used as a distraction to the audience when an accident occurred (or an act flopped). Stephen Sondheim's song "Send in the Clowns" is a metaphorical looks at this stage practice. With the advent of more theatrical stages, clowns became pure comic relief, and have even provided a launching pad to a successful career outside the circus, as was the case for Bill Irwin.

Animal cruelty has shrouded the circus for years. With animal acts involving Lions, Tigers, Elephants and more, animal activists have been concerned over their housing and training. This concern became the focus of a Dinosaurs episode titled "Charlene and Her Amazing Humans", where Cavelings are mistreated to perform on cue.

The sideshow also became an integral part of the circus, with "freaks" (such as Tattooed Ladies or gimmicky acts (such as the Flea circus) luring people into spending additional money for the secondary show.

Aside from the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, other famous circuses include Cirque du Soleil and The Big Apple Circus, and famous acts have included Emmett Kelly and Gunther Gebel-Williams.

The Muppets have visited the circus on numerous occasions.

The Muppet Show

Mildred: George, do you like circuses?
George: Oh, I love 'em!
Mildred: Then, you must love Ringling.
George: I don't know. I never ringled!
  • The 1984 View-Master set, The Muppet Circus, features The Muppet Show cast putting on a circus act.

Sesame Street

  • In the storyline of Episode 1451, everyone on the street auditions for P. T. Bunkum, who is searching for a special new act for The Bunkum and Ballyhoo Circus.
  • In Episode 3579, Slimey visits a worm circus, the Wiggling Bros. Circus, and later performs.
  • Ernie has explained to Bert that he enjoys the circus better than bottle caps.
  • Gordon appears as the strongman in the circus, and bends a solid metal bar into the number seven. He reappears to bend another bar into the letter J. (First: Episode 0314)
  • Manny the agent receives a call from the circus requesting something yellow with fur and black stripes, so instead of sending his Tiger client on the call, he dresses a Banana to match the requires and sends him out.
  • In "Journey to Ernie" segments, Big Bird walks a tightrope at the circus, and Ernie searches for Big Bird at the circus.
  • In a 1991 episode, Maria reads Elmo and Snuffy the book The Snuffleupagus and the Rope, which is about a rope who works as a tightrope in the circus.
  • A 1974 episode features Luis the ringmaster demonstrating "before" and "after" in a circus routine.
  • The song "Women Can Be" features Margaret, who has had a successful career at the circus as a lion tamer.
  • A 1974 episode features Bob showing the kids a picture of elephants in a circus parade.
  • Video segments involving the circus include a boy named Anthony and his trapeze artist parents ((EKA: Episode 3663)), a girl named Shirley performing in the circus with her clown father and an elephant act ((EKA: Episode 3697)), counting circus clowns ((EKA: Episode 1836)), and a gymnastics team practicing for their act ((EKA: Episode 3006)).
  • In a Thelma Thumb animated sketch, Thelma rescues an acrobat when his trapeze breaks.
  • In the book Everyone Makes Mistakes, Big Bird knocks down Susan's clothesline, and thinks about telling her that a circus came to perform, and the tightrope walker practiced her act on it, and knocked down all the clothes.
  • One "Elmo the Musical" segment, "Circus the Musical," features Elmo as a monster who dreams of joining the circus and tries out various acts to be part of it.

Muppet Babies

Bear in the Big Blue House

International Muppet Productions

  • For Sesamstrasse's 1000th episode, Big Bird guest starred alongside his German counterparts on a special show that was taped at Zirkus Althoff.
  • Sesamstrasse also featured its own circus, Circus Samson, in an early 1980s episode.
  • In an episode of The Hoobs, the Hoobs help Iver decide which circus job would suit him best.
  • A live action segment on Sesamstrasse had two siblings showing how it is to grow up in the circus.

Creature Shop Productions

  • The film MirrorMask features the Campbell Family Circus.


  • Muppets Ahoy!, the shipboard stage show, featured "Pavarotti", an Italian circus performer dressed in a fat suit.
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