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Clown Hopefuls Audition For Ringling Bros. In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Did you ever dream of running away and joining circus? Thirty people in Chicago tried to make that dream come true on Wednesday.

They wanted to be clowns, and entertain thousands at the "Greatest Show on Earth."

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports some of the clown candidates were driven by economic necessity.

Margaret Lute, of Akron, Ohio, drove all the way to downtown Chicago to audition to be a clown for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

She lost her job working for a children's theater about a month-and-a-half ago, and has been looking for a job ever since.

"I saw this on the Internet, and I thought, why not?" she said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's John Waelti Reports


Lute said her job search has been "very discouraging."

"It's pretty bad in Ohio, trying to find a job. There's so many people laid off, and I don't have that much experience, because I just graduated from college two years ago, so I'm going up against people that have 20, 30 years," she said.

Lute was one of 30 would-be clowns to try out in Chicago on Wednesday.

The candidates were judged by the circus' director of talent, David Kiser.

Asked if he's a Simon Cowell as a judge of potential clowns, Kiser laughed and said, "I'm very gentle with that."

Gentle, but clear in what he's looking for.

"I want awesome clown energy from the tips of their fingers to their toes," Kiser said.

There were various levels of preparation.

Jill Ryder said, "I've been working in front of a mirror for about a month."

No matter the outcome, every applicant claimed to have fun, including Lute.

"An excellent experience, one to tell the grandchildren someday," Lute said.

Now, Lute can tell the grandkids she passed the audition. She was one of only handful of candidates selected to attend the circus' clown school.

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