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Cannonball couple finds working together a blast

Married pair grew up in the world 'circus capital' of Peru, Ind.

Some married couples find working together, day in and day out, rather routine. But for Brian and Tina Miser — it's a blast.

Literally.

Fans of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus may remember "Bailey's Comet" — the fiery human cannonball in the 133rd edition of the circus two years ago. That was Brian, who built his own cannons and took a seat-of-the-pants approach to learning how to be a human projectile.

Tina was part of that act as well, but her job then was to douse her husband in lighter fluid and pull the trigger.

Brian said that several months ago, Tina was pestering him to let her have her "shot" at being fired out of a cannon. So he perfected what appears to be a double-barreled ingredient to the old circus tradition of human cannonballs.

Except it's not really double-barreled, Brian explained by phone from Oakland, Calif., where the circus was making the rounds in the Bay Area.

Both Brian and Tina slide, one after the other (Tina first, then Brian), into a newly configured single-barrel cannon. Then both come soaring out of the giant weapon simultaneously. (Meanwhile, their 2-year-old daughter Skyler is enjoying herself in the backstage nursery.)

Brian and Tina both grew up in Peru, Ind., a town known as "the circus capital of the world," but neither grew up in circus families. Early in the 20th century, Peru was winter quarters for several circus troupes. Now, every July, that history is celebrated by the community staging an amateur circus.

During his high school year, Brian excelled at aerial acrobatics and eventually became a professional trapeze artist, first in the Circus World troupe, then with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

A few years later, recuperating from a trapeze injury, Brian began experimenting with cannons, testing them with a mannequin ("I'm not that crazy," he said).

Eventually, Brian and Tina's romance — and cannonball expertise — evolved. They got married and went back on the road.

UTAH'S FUNNIEST KIDS competed on Sept. 12 as part of a circus-sponsored event at the Utah State Fair.

Ringmaster Tyron McFarlan flew into Salt Lake City and was joined by Daisy, a circus clown, to judge entries from throughout the Wasatch Front. Youngsters performed a variety of stunts, jokes and pratfalls.

The winner was Chase Redd, 5-year-old son of John and Nicole Redd of Centerville.

THE ELEPHANT WALK, a longtime circus tradition, will take place on Wednesday at noon, with a parade of pachyderms walking around the Delta Center and into the Gateway Center.

This event is free and open to the general public.


If you go

What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Where: Delta Center

When: Wednesday through Oct. 2

How much: $10-$28

Phone: 325-7328

Web: www.Ringling.com

Also: free interactive open house 90 minutes prior to showtime


E-mail: ivan@desnews.com