TNT Review: Ringling Bros New Show Is Truly Death-Defying, For Kids Of All Ages


*Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson recently called their new show, Out of this World, “the greatest show on earth.” If that sounds like a tag line, it is, and they’ve been using it for decades.

Sometimes, though, there’s actual truth in advertising. And the tag line is absolutely apt in this case. The circus’ new production completely blew my mind. Ringling Bros has put together an amazing show for kids of ALL ages.

Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paolo
Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paolo

“With this new show,” Iverson said by phone, “we still have the world’s greatest menagerie — lions and tigers, rescue dogs, horses, donkeys, kangaroos, llamas, pigs…”

Let’s talk about those pigs. Having grown up in Detroit, I didn’t know pigs were so big. They’re “huge dog” big. Hell, they’re “small car” big!

And let’s talk about the lions and tigers. That part of the show was one of the moments when I was really afraid. I was certain that the cats’ trainer, Alexander, was going to get mauled for all to see. One of the felines, Susie, wasn’t in the best of moods during the performance and challenged Alexander more than a few times.  She was absolutely not feeling Alex.  Every time she growled with that mouth full of deadly incisors or raised her immense paw to the trainer’s head, I was frozen in my seat.

Speaking of being frozen, only Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey could bring a snowstorm and snowball fight to a hot late summer night in Sacramento, California. During that segment of the show, the visuals are so realistic you’ll believe the venue has bumped the AC up. And ONLY Ringling Bros could set the ice on fire — literally!

And let’s talk about another petrifying part of the show: those horsemen and women, riding quickly around a tight circle as they rotated over and under the galloping horses! They could have easily been trampled.

The trapeze artists! Yes, there was a net, but they were WAY up there!

Seven motorcyclists, riding their bikes inside a single small sphere! An accident waiting to happen!


OUT OF THIS WORLD is a dizzying, almost disorienting, and yes, death defying array of attractions. I couldn’t figure out where to look, because there was something amazing going on everywhere.

And that was all before the intermission.

Just when I was sure Ringling Bros had exhausted their bag of tricks and used every possible platform, two performers walked on the ceiling. Like “Lionel-Richie-walked-on-the-ceiling.” Then, they topped that: they moonwalked. Across. The. Ceiling — while playing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” no less.


There was a basketball game — with the players on unicycles!  People bouncing off of trampolines through hoops — on ice skates! Jaws even showed up! Yes, Jaws the shark, along with the classic John Williams theme!


Out Of This World includes a fun narrative to keep the really little kids entertained. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s nothing too scary, there are recurring clowns to help keep things light, and, as in any good family story, it all turns out fine in the end.

Recently, I wistfully said goodbye to the NBC summer program America’s Got Talent. I’d come to believe that the ofttimes-thrilling program is the closest we have to circus-type entertainment. Well, let me tell you something: I don’t care how big your flat screen is, or how high its definition is, you have NEVER seen anything like Out Of This World.

Iverson was right, as have been the generations of circus folks who have proceeded him: it’s THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. Go, and take your kids.  Or your spouse.  Or your parents.  Or just go by your damn self!  Just GO!

Tickets and information for Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey’s OUT OF THIS WORLD are available at and


Freelancer Michael P Coleman sometimes wishes he’d run away and joined the circus. Connect with him at or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP

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