3-Minute Interview: Jon Weiss

Weiss, 46, worked for the Ringling Brothers circus for 26 years before joining Circus Vargas this year as its host. Circus Vargas will raise the big top at AT&T Park Aug. 13.

Did you always want to be a circus performer? I went to Ringling Brothers clown college in 1981. I thought I’d do it for a year, but I fell in love with it. And then I started doing human cannonball in 1987.

Isn’t the cannonball the thing nobody wants to do? Yeah, because it’s one of the most dangerous things, but there are a lot of people who want the spotlight. It’s the very end of the show, a highly decorated act. Thank God I’m still walking and talking.

What was your worst subject in clown college? Juggling — I was never good at juggling. Never liked it. And people made fun of me — who’s ever heard of a clown who can’t juggle?

I’ve heard you’re good at balancing things however… I was just bored one day and started balancing a rake on my foot, moving my foot around, watching the rake, seeing how long I could balance it. Eventually I got it over my shoulder, to my nose, chin and so on. All my friends knew I was doing these crazy things, so they would challenge me to balance things like shopping carts, lawnmowers, bicycles. If I could pick it up, I could balance it.

What’s your favorite thing about working for a circus? I like the fact that I can do what I like to do — I don’t know many people who can say they like what they do when they go to work. And we bring to people a sense of joy and fun.

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