published Monday, March 12th, 2012

Off the Couch: Fun under big top coming

LISA DENTON: Barry, I had a dream about you the other night. Apparently, we had agreed to be in a fashion show for charity, and we were both horrified to discover when we got there that we were supposed to model swimwear. To escape, you climbed up into the rigging above the stage, but your particular hiding place turned out to be the main event. You wound up seated on a trapeze (I'm not making this up), and you got to swing out over the audience when your turn came.

I bring this up because the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is bringing its Barnum Bash to McKenzie Arena on Thursday, and that would give you four days to practice your moves with actual experts.

BARRY COURTER: You've been eating raw onions before bedtime again, haven't you? Which is more troubling: us in swimwear or me on a trapeze? In any case, I've been perfecting my circus act for years.

Have I ever told you my earliest memory of the circus? My dad took me, and I got one of those balloons on a stick. It made it all the way home and then popped as I got out of the car. Despite that traumatic experience -- I might have cried a little bit -- I've always liked the circus. So much to see, and the elephants amaze me every time I see them.

LISA: This one, of course, is the grand master of circuses. The Barnum Bash is a new show that introduces the Ringlettes, described in press material as "the stylish hosts of the swankiest circus party in town." It's their job to entertain during the preshow party, which is included in the ticket price. It's a chance to mingle with some of the acts and animals and learn circus skills, like balancing and juggling -- maybe trapeze for you. You were so adept at it in my dream, I'm certain you would have a knack for it.

BARRY: This amuses you, doesn't it? I really don't know why you seem so unable to believe I could actually do such a thing. I think if they have one of the trapezes with the really big seats, like on a John Deere tractor, I could do it. I could bling it up with some sparklers and things that shoot flames out. It'd be cool.

I'll tell what makes me laugh. Just looking at Faizon Love. What a face. He will be in concert along with Tommy Davidson and Kevin Simpson on St. Patrick's day at the Tivoli.

LISA: That will be a good show. And the next night at the Tivoli is Don Williams. "The Gentle Giant" is 72 now. I understand that he had retired from the road, but his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010 gave him the bug to tour again. I'll go see him with or without a trapeze.

BARRY: Don't forget that Tyson Rogers, who lived here during his high school days, is playing keyboards for Williams.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or

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