Dorking State Circus has been forced to close down, after an astonishing 8 years of entertaining Surrey's circus-going public. Its last clown will be put down by a qualified veterinarian this Tuesday.
The circus has gone through a number of difficulties in the last few years. One particular setback happened in 2007, when European human rights legislation forced a complete ban on any animals performing in the circus. In an appeal to the European Supreme Court, the circus was able to argue that humans do not count as an animal so they may perform. However, it was too late to save that year's circus tour, which consisted entirely of robot clowns. The robots, made in Lithuania, exploded often and had a tendency to decapitate audience members. But that year had the lowest death rate of any year in the circus's history.
The circus eventually discovered a loophole in the law, which only affects live animals. In 2008 the circus toured using dead animals. One amazing act was that of Jumbo, the hollowed out corpse of a bull elephant, with three human puppeteers inside it. The animal moved in an impressive and lifelike way, but the stench of it was so overpowering that it was cancelled after one performance. One of the puppeteers was later found to have died inside the beast, which only added to the terrible smell.
Other aspects of the circus were criticised in the media. Mesmoro the blind hypnotist was described as "too disturbing" for most audiences. With his trademark line of "look into my eye sockets", he was forcibly retired in 2011.
The final tour of the circus in 2013 was a pitiful event. Only three acts were mentioned on the bill at all. They were Hilda the Balding Lady; the Incredibly Pale Man; and Depresso, the "melancholy mime act who will touch you with his sadness".
With an entry price of £80 per person, the circus was simply asking for too much. And there were further setbacks: Depresso was hospitalised after another suicide attempt, and the Incredibly Pale Man took a Mediterranean holiday which left him somewhat less pale.
Circus owner M T Rectum announced this week that he couldn't afford to keep it going any more. He added that his clowns had bred so ferociously last year that he had had to cull many of them.
He said he was looking to enter a new and more entertaining line of work, and had already accepted a job offer at a local sewage farm.