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Quirky flea circus has audience rolling

August 07, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Mike Klingerman, right, points out some amazing facts about fleas as Carolyn Klingerman holds the fact sheet Sunday during Mike's Amazing Flea Circus at the Hancock Performing Arts Center.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HANCOCK — About 100 people turned out at the Hancock Performing Arts Center Sunday to see a bunch of fleas perform.

Fleas?

Well, not real ones.

But that’s not the point.

It’s all about the quirkiness of imagining a flea tap dancing blended with announcer Mike Klingerman’s “Borat” style of commentary as he leads you through the act.

The fleas in Professor Mike’s Amazing Flea Circus demonstrated high-wire agility, strength and stamina as they were backed by a band, which is what makes this circus special, Klingerman said.

Flea circuses have been around for years, but they usually did not have music, Klingerman said.

They might have had a harmonica or an accordion, but not like the violin, guitar and percussion players in Professor Mike’s group.

“I saw one when I was 9 and it blew my mind,” said Klingerman, recalling his early exposure to flea circuses.

Klingerman said he saw that show in Copenhagen.

“My dad was a wanderer and he took us along with him,” Klingerman said.

Professor Mike’s Amazing Flea Circus grew out of a musical group made up of Klingerman and others. The band picked different themes for its music, like Bach, Mozart or Eastern European.

Then it went to the fleas, and Professor Mike — looking professor-like in his bow tie, long, white coat and horn-rimmed glasses — had the audience laughing.

Klingerman included interesting flea facts in Sunday’s show, like the fact that a flea can jump 200 times its length.

That means if a flea was 6 feet tall, it could jump 1,200 feet, or four football fields, Klingerman said.

Sunday’s show included Freddy and Ginger, the tap-dancing fleas.

“They have 800 children,” said Klingerman, who said fleas can lay 2,000 eggs in their lifetime.

Freddy and Ginger also are blessed with 640,000 grandchildren, Klingerman told the crowd.

“I’m glad I brought a hanky because I didn’t have a dry eye the whole time. They were hilarious,” Janice Hammer of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said after the show.

Klingerman said Professor Mike’s Amazing Flea Circus performed last week at the Morgan County Fair.

Klingerman teaches music in the Washington, D.C., area, is a member of the Hancock Arts Council and lives near Hancock.

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