03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Big Apple Circus Returns to the Big Apple

Let's face it: Lunatics and tyrants like Bernard Madoff and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad give clowns a bad name. We're so used to the unending variety of jokers who cause us harm (and who, without makeup or masks, are really scary, too) that it's easy to forget that when the circus comes to town -- the real circus that is, and not Congress and its feeble attempts at curing our health care system and the economy -- it's actually the clowns, the real clowns, who are supposed to make us laugh.

Well, at least we can all look forward to the return of the real circus, with actual, professional clowns! Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park will be the setting for genuine fun and laughter with the return of the Big Apple Circus, which for 32 years has become not only a seasonal mainstay but also an annual rite of New York passage. Performances begin on October 22, 2009 and run through January 18, 2010. ( or call (888) 541-3750

After a nine year absence, Bello Nock, the daredevil clown and one of America's true circus treasures, returns to the Big Apple Circus. Other featured performers include: Curatolas, the acrobatic duo from Italy; the Aniskin Troupe, a trampoline and flying trapeze act from Russia; the electrifying equestrians Christine Zerbini and Sultan Kumisbayev; the Spanish juggler Picaso Jr., who avoids making a meal out of five ping-pong balls by puffing them out of his mouth and then catching them all over again; the Chinese contortionists The Long Brothers, among many other sensational performers, including the Big Apple Circus' resident clown, Barry Lubin, as the irrepressible Grandma.

Aside from being New York's home team circus, the Big Apple Circus has always provided New Yorkers and tourists with a unique entertainment experience. The Big Top tent that balloons over Lincoln Center each fall, signaling that the Big Apple is in town, offers a one-ring circus where spectators and families are never more than 50 feet away from the spectacle. For a loud and bustling city, the Big Apple Circus is surprisingly intimate, as if a circus suddenly showed up in your own living room (actually, that's how most New York families feel, with or without a ringmaster.)

New Yorkers pride themselves on forever being cynical and street smart. The Big Apple Circus is a much-needed reminder that with all the juggling that life demands, and the jumping through hoops and the spinning of wheels that resemble tiny tricycles, there are actually people who do this sort of thing for a living, and for laughs, and to great, highly enjoyable effect.

Take your family to the Big Apple Circus and see how it's really done.