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Eric Heath's Life and Times - The '80s: 1981

Ringling Bros. Clown College in Venice FL

In 1981, a week before my senior year at Syracuse University began, I received a phone call from the Dean of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.  I had been accepted. . .

So I put my affairs in order, taped my unicycle into a clumsy looking box, and headed off to Venice, Florida.

It was an incredible time and I learned more cool stuff than my brain (and body) could absorb at the time.  Some of it's still sinking in, actually.

Anywho, when graduation came, many of my friends got contracts and went off to work for Ringling Bros.  Some took contracts with other smaller circuses.  I went back to be a Cheerleader and then Coach Cheerleading at Syracuse Basketball, Football and Lacrosse, but that's a whole 'nother story. . .and possibly future page for my website.

This is a promotional photo that was to run in my hometown newspaper.

At left, the fat suit I wore in our graduation performance/audition.  I had to run full speed, jump in the air, land on a mini-trampoline, and vault high enough in the air to straddle the waist of a lifeguard on a tower.

We rehearsed the gag repeatedly, in our shorts and t-shirts and first time we tried it with the "fat suit" I jumped into the air and looked down for the mini-tramp, but couldn't see it - just a whale in an aqua sea spouting up at me.

My feet landed on either side of the "sweet spot" on the trampoline, in the springs!  I didn't knock the guy off, so he quickly comically propeller-armed and punched himself in the head and threw himself off the tower.

After more rehearsals I finally got it right and the gag's final blow off went great on graduation night.

Walkaround Ballerina That's just me in the picture on the left.  I designed and built this costume for my "walk around".  It required you to walk with your butt stuck out at a peculiar angle (right) and wouldn't have been very comfortable to wear every day.  When I saw the circus in 1982 a classmate of mine, Larry Lee, was wearing it - I wonder how many seasons the costume lasted?
To Eric's Bio

More about the Class of 81

2001 Clown College Reunion

Links to Clown College Graduates


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