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Wheeler the ClownflyWheeler Presents

    A Circus

Lou Jacobs & Frankie Saluto, Circus Clowns

Occupations Quiz

 The Answers

(note: some of these occupations may be obsolete in circuses of today)

 1. People who sell refreshments at the circus are called...?
b. Butchers (also candy butchers)
  2. Unskilled Circus Laborers may be called...?
d. Chinese, Razorbacks, and Roustabouts are all circus terms for laborers.
 3. A circus called...? 
a. A Zany
 4. The flashily dressed girls in the Circus Spec are called...?
d. Bally Broads and Spec Girls are both terms these talented ladies 
 5. Circus performers in general are called...?
d. Kinkers and troupers are both terms for circus performers
 6. Those who feed and care for elephants are called...?
a. Bull Handlers
 7. Musicians in the circus band are called . . . ?
d. Windjammers
 8. The electrician running the circus lights is called a . . .? 
e. an electrician can be called a Shanty or a Chandelier
 9. The person who stands by to assist the big cat trainer during and after his/her act and assists in the daily care of the cats is called a . . .?
b. Cageboy
10. People who sell balloons at the circus are called . . . ?
b. Rubbermen
11. A crew of telephone solicitors who sell tickets to the circus are called . . . ?
a. the Boiler Room
12. An out of use term for an acrobat is  a. . . ?
d. Ponger
13. In tented circuses, the person who paces the circus lot and decides where every tent and every piece of equipment will be placed is called the . . . ?  
d. This person may be called either the Boss Canvas Man or  the Layout Man
14. Members of the crew that sets up the wires, nets, etc. for the aerial acts are called . . . ?
d. Riggers
15. Which of the following is not a term for some type of salesmen at the circus? 
d. Solicitors
16. Which of the following is not a term for some type of trapeze artist?
b. Spotter
17. What is a funambulist?
c. any type of ropewalker (tightrope, slack rope, etc.) 
18. The clown whose main purpose is to work the audience directly, either from the ring or the stands is called . . . ?
d. a carpet clown

   1 -  3 Don't even know what a circus is, do you?
   4 -  6  You call yourself a circus fan?
  7 -   9  Obviously you've read a book or two about the circus.
10 - 12 You've spent some time under the big top, haven't you?
13 - 15  With your knowledge, you could be a roustabout or a kinker
16 - 18  Wow!  - Did you grow up in the circus?

Click here if you would like to see an alphabetical list of some of the more interesting circus occupations,


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       This Page was updated on: 07/29/2004

Circus Occupations Definitions

Advance Man - travels ahead of the circus to facilitate box office receipts and to promote and facilitate the arrival of the circus. The job includes working with the press.

Advance Clown - travels ahead of the circus with the advance man. The Clown's purpose, however, is publicity (photo shoots, etc.)

Arrow Man - travels ahead of the circus leaving small markers along the route for the drivers to follow as they travel to the next location.

Bally Broad - a somewhat politically incorrect term for circus show girl / dancer.

Billing Crew - travels ahead of the circus to put up the colorful posters around town that advertise the eminent arrival of the circus. Today's advertising is mainly radio and television, so this task was more vital in and before the early 1900s.

Boiler Room - the crew of people who sell tickets to the circus via telephone solicitations.

Boss Canvas Man - laid out the lot, deciding where each tent would be set up. He was also in charge of the crew that would raise the big top.

Bottom Man- the one in an acrobatic troupe who stands at the base of the human pyramid, supporting it and helping other acrobats climb to their positions.

Bull Handler - anyone who works with the elephants, including trainers and those who feed and care for these magnificent animals.

Butcher - the person who sells refreshments at the circus; also called a candy butcher.

Cage Boy - assists in the care and feeding of the big cats, and stands by to assist the trainer during and after his/her act.

Carpet Clown - any clown who works the audience either from the arena floor or actually within the audience.

Catcher - in a trapeze act, the one who catches the trapeze artist who flies from one bar to another.

Chinese - the work crew / heavy laborers; so-called because of an outdated practice of hiring emigrant asians to do hard work for low wages.

Flyers - any aerialist, particularly trapeze artists. The term specifically refers to the trapeze artist who flies from one trapeze to another.

Gunsel - a young man or boy, usually hired from town for free admission to the circus, who performs light labor tasks.

Kinker - originally this was a term for an acrobat, but now it refers to any circus performer.

Layout Man - sometimes used interchangeably with boss canvas man, this is the man who paces the circus lot and decides where every tent and every piece of equipment (including trailers) will be located.

Pitchmen - anyone who gives the sales talk or "pitch," selling anything from the sideshow to souvenir programs. 

Ponger - a term no longer in use for an acrobat.

Razorback - a member of the labor crew that loads and unloads the railroad cars for circuses who still travel that way.

Rigger - a member of the crew that sets up the wires, nets, and mechanical devices for the aerial acts.

Roper - a term for a cowboy in a wild west show.

Roustabout - an unskilled laborer; typically the lowest paid worker in the circus.

Rubberman - a balloon vendor with a circus.

Shanty - the electrician who runs the lights. Also called a chandelier.

Sledge Gang - the crew who drive in the stakes for a tented circus.

Spec Girl - a bally broad (showgirl) who performs in the circus spectacle or pageant.

Trouper- any performer who travels with a circus; specifically a veteran performer (a new and inexperienced performers is called a First of May).

Windjammer- a musician in the circus band.

Zany- a circus clown.

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