You know the joke, no doubt -- the greatest show-biz joke of all time. It's been told innumerable times before, at least once in these very pages.
You haven't heard it? Okay, one more time:
A guy goes into a bar. He's sitting there drinking, and after a while he notices another guy sitting down the bar a ways, drinking like a fish and looking very depressed. So the first guy buys the second guy a drink, and says, "Hey, buddy, what's the matter? Why the long face?"
"Ah, I hate my job."
"Really? What's your job?"
"I work for the circus."
"The circus? Sounds like fun."
"Not my job. My job is I follow the elephants around, and I shovel the elephant patties into a big barrel. Then, after the barrel starts to overflow, I have to jump into the barrel in hip waders, and stomp and stomp on all of those elephant flops and cram them down as tightly as I can into the barrel, and when I can't get any more in, I take it out to the back of a big truck, and I pour it in. Then I go back for more. And finally, when I can't get any more in the truck, I take the whole load and sell it for whatever I can get to a local fertilizer dealer."
"Jeez," the first guy says. "You're right. That does sound like a horrible job. Why don't you quit?"
And the second guy says, "What? And give up show business?"
But the thing is, it's not a joke. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a.k.a. "The Greatest Show on Earth," which opens on Thursday, June 22, at America West Arena and continues through Sunday, July 2, really is selling off its elephant manure. From 6 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 27, the green-thumbed may stop by the arena and, in return for a $10 donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix, walk away with as much as they can carry of the high-grade poo-poo, produced in prodigious quantities not only by elephants but also by horses, camels, zebras and the like. Tim and Willy of KNIX-FM 102.5 are slated to officiate, and, perhaps, to ask themselves the age-old punch line.
Oh, yeah, the circus. Attractions this year include Sara, the Tiger Whisperer; the Ayala Sisters, who hang by their hair; Jon Weiss, billed as "the Human Clown-in-Ball"; and trampoline stars the Marvelous Marinellis. Along with, no doubt, plenty of well-fed elephants.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 22; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 23; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24; 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 25; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 27; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 29; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 30; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 1; and 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 2, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Tickets start at $10.75. For details call 602-379-7800.