Who doesn’t want to run away with the circus? Well, for those of us who weren’t able to head out on the road with the lions and tigers and clowns (though you might want to see the sharp, dark, funny Canadian film When Night is Falling, for a sense of what that’s like), the Cirque du Soleil has long been the best possible option–especially since the recent demise of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Me? I’ve seen more than 30 Cirque shows, in cities all across North America, and I’ve written many, many stories about the Montreal-based company. I once even ushered for their terrific (and now shuttered) traveling show, Alegria. I love the Cirque’s irreverence, their showmanship, their costumes, and their humor. There really should be a photo of a Cirque show in the dictionary under “perfection.”
All these years, as I worked on being a Cirque nerd, I was also a big-time fan of the Blue Man Group. I will never forget the night in 1998 when I saw them for the first time in Las Vegas. If you’ve seen that show, you too will probably always remember the ecstatic, frenetic, overwhelming final moments, with The KLF’s “Last Train to Trancentral” booming, the lights strobing, and endless miles of paper rolling over your heads. For me, the Blue Man Group–which I (unsuccessfully) tried out for once–has many of the same elements as the Cirque–irreverence, originality, clever humor, beautiful music, and the ability to always leave you with a sense that you’ve gotten a peek into a world where smart people are having the most possible fun. We don’t need to talk about the Blue Man Group’s (really bad) rock and roll shows, though.