Born to be a showman, P.T. Barnum overcame a number of obstacles (including numerous fires, the loss of several fortunes and one dead elephant) in order to make a buck. Who was this man who was so determined to create the greatest show on Earth?
For some, being a circus performer is a job; for others, it is a way of life. Many circus families stretch back seven or eight generations. Who are some of the most storied circus families still under the big top today?
Watch the ball roll along his arm, around his back, down the other arm and under his palm. You've just seen contact juggling, an ancient practice where the ball stays in constant contact with your body. What's behind its newfound popularity?
Whether we love them or hate them, clowns aren't a rare sight. But have you ever thought about how much people can earn when they run off with the circus? Learn that and more about the serious business of clowning.
A performer slides into a massive cannon barrel and is shot high into the air. She lands safely in a net some distance away, and the crowd goes wild. Who are human cannonballs, and who came up with shooting people out of cannons in the first place?
Sword swallowing is an extremely dangerous trick that doesn't involve illusions. How can it be real? We'll show you — with explanations and diagrams of the interactions between swords and the upper GI tract. Just don't try this at home!
In circuses, sideshows and other venues, lying on a bed of nails is an expression of a performer's stamina, bravery and imperviousness to pain. In reality, it's a matter of pressure transference and has been practiced for years around the world.
Fire breathing is one of the most dangerous performance arts out there. To get an inside look at how fire breathing works, HowStuffWorks interviewed two fire breathers, including Mike Garner -- a juggler and vaudevillian performer who started breathing fire in 1993.
Ever seen anyone putting on a show of walking barefoot across a bed of hot coals. Are they for real, or is it a trick? They are, in fact, walking barefoot on red-hot, glowing coals. Find out how it's done.