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Clowns at SAN Catch Attention, Ridicule

San Diego International Airport’s latest artists-in-residence are turning the terminals into a three-ring-circus and putting smiles on the faces of travelers from around the globe and creating fodder for late-night television hosts.

When clowns, acrobats, and jugglers invade a busy US airport, it’s bound to cause passengers to do a double take. The Fern Street Circus’s residency at San Diego International Airport (SAN), however, has garnered even more attention than anyone expected.

The Voice of San Diego declares that the circus performers at the airport have officially become a viral sensation. Since the “social circus” started entertaining travelers at the airport this summer, the program has delighted travelers from around the world and earned attention from The Late Show with Steven ColbertUSA Today, Fox News and National Public Radio’s (NPR) popular quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t tell me!” Unfortunately, in some cases (including a meme of a clown strolling the TSA checkpoint at the airport), the idea of circus performers and clowns at the airport draws a few somewhat unflattering comparisons.

“The story sort of kept morphing and got more and more conflated with the TSA delays,” Fern Street Circus co-director John Highkin told the Voice. “But we’ll take the renown.”

Despite the proliferation of easy jokes about airport security being a circus and clowns working the TSA checkpoints, the performance artists aren’t there just to help passengers endure long security lines. In fact, Highkin says that entertaining a captive audience creates unique challenges of its own.

“We recognize that people come to airports with various frames of mind,” Highkin told USA Today. “People travel for various reasons — some of them sad — and there’s the hectic phase of checking bags and getting through the checkpoints and, once past security, the opportunity to be still. We’ve figured out the most appropriate thing is for us to be playful and surprise passengers, but then let them move on.”

[Photo: NBC}

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