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.