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Topic: 15-minute flea circus
Message: Posted by: mk (May 31, 2005 03:27PM)
I'm putting together a 15 minute flea circus for the street - lots of fun, audience participation, and laughs. It can easily be seen by a crowd of at least 50 people. The finale is shooting a flea out of a cannon, breaking through a paper hoop, and being caught in a baseball mit by someone in the audience. Has anyone seen this type of street show before? Any comments or suggestions? Thanks.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (May 31, 2005 04:21PM)
Sounds like a crowd pleaser to me.

But watch out for stray dogs, or they will become a "flea taxi", and you will lose your whole act.

You can get more fleas on a dog, than you can clowns in clown car.

Message: Posted by: drwilson (May 31, 2005 06:15PM)
I just built a [url=http://www.memoryelixir.com/fleacircus/fleacircus.html]Flea Circus[/url]. It seems to me that while you are putting this act together, you have to make a decision about whether you intend to play the stage (like Adam Gertsacov), the parlor, or the street and festival setting. I aimed for parlor, meaning that I have to watch my angles and lighting. I can imagine building a FLea Circus for the street or for festivals, meaning an outdoor setting not sensitive to angles. I can play outdoors in a tent, which I will do if it ever stops raining up here in Maine.

The only other flea circus I've seen is the Cardoso Flea Circus (Google "Cardoso Flea Circus" for images and reviews), which played tents and indoor fixed installions like art galleries.

This could work well on the street, provided that you follow all the rules on building a street show. You are going to have to build a tip, bally the show, then when the time is right, do your show, not forgetting to GTFM. One way to do this in other settings is to sell slum associated with the flea circus, but this may not be viable on the street, where it is often illegal to sell anything.

Do you have photos of your Flea Circus? PM me or share with everyone, as you think best.


Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Jun 1, 2005 12:39PM)
One of the few outdoor busking type of flea circus’ I have seen was Jim Frank’s. He has been playing his circus for about a dozen years. You can see a bit about it at:

You can catch him, in character, with his circus each year at the Maryland Renaissance Festival
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 12, 2005 01:47AM)
What the heck is a flea circus?
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Jun 12, 2005 05:50AM)

Well, mine is an Extraordinary Entomological Exhibition Featuring Trained Fleas Executing Acts of Skill and Daring! You'll see trained fleas work the flying trapeze, walk the high wire, and see a flea shot from a cannon!

There is discussion of the act in [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=108847&forum=23&56]this thread[/url].

There's a fine account of the history in [i]Jay's Journal of Anomalies[/i] and Ballantine's [i]Wild Tigers and Tame Fleas[/i].

Briefly, a tiny stage with circus props is displayed, and the human flea [i]Pulex irritans[/i] is tethered to various small props to make things move, with a great deal of extravagant rhetoric from the performer and cheesy circus music from the stage. Then there is a pitch for souvenirs! Buy some now!


Message: Posted by: Sammy the Kid (Jun 12, 2005 11:02AM)
Where can one get plans for building one of these gems?

Sammy the Kid
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 12, 2005 07:22PM)
Very Nice Dr Wilson!

Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 12, 2005 07:46PM)
I'll bet Dr. Wilson sells the plans.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Jun 12, 2005 07:55PM)
Actually the plans I used are from Walt Noon. You can get them from:


You can also get Walt's plans from Stevens Magic Emporium. The set comes with a video or DVD, a booklet, and a CD of images, notes and music. This is one of the best deals I have ever found in magic.

Of course, you will tinker with it and do some things your own way. This will generate a box of failed prototypes but also a really cool final product.

My strength was in painting and sculpture, not shop skills, and mine came out all right. Use your strengths.


Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 12, 2005 08:17PM)
What is unbelieveable to me is that I'm reading this thread, it's accociated theads, clicking on links, downloading clips, etc.

Someone please stop me.
Next thing you know Dr. Wilson's going to tell me he can shake a dice cup
and out will roll all 4s,5s, and/or 6s.
And that he can do it every time.

I'm leaving immediately. I'm hungry and tired.
And I'm starting to itch! Damm fleas.

Message: Posted by: drwilson (Jun 13, 2005 05:29AM)

You would make an amazing flea circus if you put your hand to it. I imagine little leather circus props, some carved wood too. It is your destiny, embrace it.

Yeah, and let's play that dice game with the cup and five dice!


Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 14, 2005 02:04AM)
Maybe if you made me some of your elixir
Message: Posted by: v_alfano (Jan 9, 2007 05:40AM)
Flea Circus is a bug! It's about 3 months that I get the idea to build a Flea Circus. I can't afford the expensive Circus on the Net, and I'm searching for all material... I bought Tom Palmer Book, and I get the bad news that I knowed almost all the act! It was copied on an old italian clown book. Can someone suggest me some cheap ways to get plans, music, photo, idea, and anything about flea circus? I also know Noon, Hakan and Dr. Wilson excellent website. You can write me at v_alfano@hotmail.com. Thank you very much...
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Jan 10, 2007 08:38PM)
What is cheap? For some people, that is money. They perform all the time for money and can just buy a flea circus.

For others, shop time is cheap. As long as they don't spend much, they will spend a lot of time building stuff, throwing it away, building more stuff until it is right. That's what I did.

Here is another great flea circus performer:



Message: Posted by: Tom Jorgenson (Jan 12, 2007 04:26PM)
Ernie Guderjahn has been taking his Flea Circus out on the West Coast Fair Circuit for about a decade now, I think. His is gorgeous; props, backdrop and all done up to let a crowd of 50-100 see the whole show. He had an advantage in that he knew Hollywood prop builders and designers, and same for the banners and artwork. It's truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. His show and setup is in the final wrapup of a French Documentary on Fleas, called, I think, "FLEAS" (or something like that...).

The thing is, this type of show can be anything from the old Abbott's Trained Fleas act, which only required a single pencil to do, all the way up to a jillion-dollared extravaganza. It all works.
Message: Posted by: v_alfano (Mar 5, 2007 05:56AM)
For me a cheap thing is a thing that doesn't cost too much! Anyone know any book about "fake" Flea Circus? I just have Tom Palmer's book. Any other?
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Mar 5, 2007 09:34AM)
Lotsa fake stuff out there... especially the flea circus bit.

With todays technology and some fundages, one could put together a flea sized studio around the setup, mini cameras set at different angles, close ups, etc. Then the whole thing could be projected onto a screen or wall or monitor, what have you. You would need a video tech guy to switch the camera angles while the show is going on, similar to any crappy TV talk show.
Message: Posted by: Todd Robbins (Mar 5, 2007 10:00AM)
The great Johnny Meah used to do a performing flea bit in one ring circuses. He made it into an eight minute bit and the only prop he used was a small paper bag. That's about as cheap as you can get.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Mar 5, 2007 12:05PM)
A drinking straw helps, also.