Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BIG APPLE CIRCUS: Grandma and Joel

Big Apple Circus gives Valley Cottage Elementary a sneak peek

(Original publication: May 22, 2007)

VALLEY COTTAGE -Peals of children's laughter echoed through the elementary school auditorium yesterday morning after a little old woman with a whoopee cushion let out a very rude noise.

To the utter delight of students at Valley Cottage Elementary, members of the Big Apple Circus stopped by to give the children a taste of what's to come.

"Alright, ladies and gentleman," circus host Joel Jeske announced in a booming voice, "Grandma and the cushion of doom!"

With that, the old lady laid down what looked like a very dusty handbag, rubbed her hands together, walked to one end of the stage and rushed back across only to very gingerly dive headfirst into the whoopee cushion.

And although Grandma was old, the joke wasn't. The children burst into cheers and shrieks of excited laughter.

"Give Grandma a round of applause!" Jeske shouted over them.

The youngsters also had an opportunity to ask the performers questions about the circus. They peppered them with questions like, "How do you talk without words in the circus?" "Is it hard to put your makeup on?" and "How do you balance things on your face?"

To the last, Jeske used a juggling club to show how he learned to first balance it on his hand, then at the end of his index finger, his thumb and finally on his nose. And to really wow his young audience, he demonstrated the skill using a piano bench.

Jeske and Grandma, also known as Director of Clowning Barry Lubin, introduced themselves to the students yesterday and made a plug for the circus' show, "Step Right Up!" The performers, along with their acrobats and animals, will be at the Palisades Center in West Nyack from June 15 to 24.

"We just want to let everybody know that our show is there and we'd love to see all these children show up and enjoy the show," Jeske said afterward.

Principal Brenda Grier, who delighted in the performers as much as the children did, said the school's family resource center would provide tickets to students who cannot afford them. Tickets prices range from $15 to $38.

"This year they provided us with a nice promo," she said of the circus. "They are wonderful. Grandma always steals the show."

Six-year-old Zaim Ragoncic agreed.

"If the Great Apple Circus was like a story, Grandma would be like the main character," he said. "She's really silly. Sometimes she's like my grandma."

Find a video report on yesterday's circus visit at

Reach Christina Jeng at or 845-578-2497.


Grandma was portrayed by Matthew Pauli at this special school show performance, not by Barry Lubin. Please click the title of this post to be taken to a video from the show.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Wow. I hadn't seen the video. Thanks for sharing that. You find everything!