The first time seeing a circus Big Top is a precious moment in many people’s memories. And one of the most memorable parts of the circus is the clowns.
Kirk Marsh is no stranger to the world of circus and clowning, going to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey (RBBB) Clown College in 1997.
“I toured with RBBB for a year in 2001. Since then, I have worked in circuses, on cruise ships, in theaters, and in casinos around the world. I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled to more than 50 countries performing,” Marsh shared.
In performance, he has specialized in comedy, juggling, and a little bit of magic.
“So that I could perform all over the world, I made a point to construct acts that allowed me not to speak to the audience but communicate my point easily anyway. My favorite thing to do is to perform for an audience made up of people who speak different languages and make them all laugh at once,” Marsh shared.
Importance of Trucking in Circus
But, there is more to the circus than the acts during showtime. Most circuses, big or small, require the help of performers to move, set up, and tear down the circus tent, souvenir stands, and more as it moves from town to town.
One challenge faced by many small circuses is transportation. A large truck is typically needed to transport all of the equipment, and a qualified driver is needed.
“Over the years I have heard from others working in the circus that it is handy to have your commercial driver’s license (CDL). It allows you to get some extra pay in the circus because they usually need someone to drive the truck from one town to the next. When I bought my own circus tent in late 2019, I thought about getting my CDL then but didn’t really need it. When the pandemic hit and all of the shows closed down, I decided to give it a go,” Marsh shared.
Marsh got his CDL in July of 2020 as he made a transition from performing, which wasn’t happening due to the pandemic.
“As for my loads and routes, I was working for a company delivering axles and trailer parts in a 2014 Freightliner with a 48-foot flatbed. I delivered from Plant City, Fla., to Tampa, Miami, and Atlanta. I was all over Florida and Georgia, but it was still a fairly local job. I’d overnight only about 2-3 days per week,” Marsh said.
While one may think circus and trucking have few connections, Marsh shared at least one he found:
“Doing deliveries, I needed to be friendly and welcoming to the people to whom I was delivering. It’s all people skills. Performing is all about that as well. I’d also driven my 27-foot travel trailer around the country on tours with a couple of other circuses over the last two to three years,” he said.
And his time spent in trucking is only going to benefit his circus when things improve.
“In late 2019, I purchased a small circus tent and some small trucks to get all of the equipment back and forth to shows. Now, I’ve learned so much about trucking and what I can and can’t do. The skills of strapping and loading will come in very handy, I’m sure, and to know my weight limits and where I can get a truck into and out of more clearly is helpful as well,” Marsh said. “I also feel it will be good for me to know that I can drive a semi and get it safely from point A to point B in the future.”
Marsh currently pulls his circus with smaller trucks, a Freightliner M2 and an Isuzu NQR, so the big rig was a change. In addition to circus and trucking, he’s also a professional photographer.
In For a Surprise
Marsh shared a few items he found surprising during his time as a truck driver:
“It’s amazing how many places you could fit a day cab and a 48-foot trailer. But the hours and needs of the plant I was working for were extraordinary. I was thrilled to learn about the 60-hour limit because trucking is exhausting when you’re trying to go back and forth to home as well as cover 60 hours,” Marsh noted.
For those looking to trucking as a new career, Marsh shared this advice:
“Get out there and give it a try. Also, if you’re looking for training, check out the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA). It was the program I went through, and it paid for all my training. It can also be used for many other professions, so see what help you can get. I always suggest speaking with people in the industry and making sure it is something you love to do. And, remember, if you don’t like it, you’ll never get better at it. And if you never get better at it, you’ll probably end up hating it,” Marsh concluded.