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Abraham Lincoln: Circus Performer

Updated on December 12, 2020

Once upon a time in the bowels of 19th Century Illinois (I’m pretty sure America had bowels back then) there lived a peculiar middle-aged man. His long face had a scraggly chin curtain and a messy mat of unkempt black hair on top. He was tall as a tree, and his long lanky limbs stretched to the heavens, or at least that’s what one would think gazing upon this towering monolith. He may have been a gentle giant, but he wasn’t well-loved. In fact you could say he was the shy awkward man that everyone loved to laugh at, and unlikely as it sounds this man was Abraham Lincoln.

One day, while resting on the front porch with a basket of apples, middle-aged Abraham started tossing an apple in the air to keep himself entertained. One of the passing townsfolk called out to him.

“You gonna juggle for us now? I’d like to see that!” the man said mockingly.

Abraham grimaced. “Yeah, I think I will!” he said. And with that he grabbed two more from the basket and attempted to juggle the devil out of those apples. As expected he accomplished little more than bruising up three perfectly good apples and giving the passing public an excuse to stop and laugh at him some more. Nevertheless he kept at it and got to be pretty good at juggling, and even tried to make some money with it in the town square. But juggling was old hat by then, and the public didn’t think Abe the Juggler was worth their hard-earned buffalo nickels; which is good, because nickels hadn’t been invented yet.

Abraham decided he needed something more unique. He took some reeds and strung them together into large hoops. While hooping was an art that went back to ancient times it wasn’t generally known in 19th Century America, so Abraham had a chance to impress the locals. He practiced every day often to the dismay of anyone foolish enough to get in close proximity to his gyrating hips. This problem became much more apparent when performing on the street as the passersby seemed to gravitate towards Abraham’s sweeping motions resulting in a barrage of hoop-related injuries.

Abraham decided he wasn’t cut out for physical performances, and decided to instead focus on what little charm he had in an effort to be a successful stand-up comedian. The only physical abnormality he could play off was his ridiculously tall stature, which was perfect as they still made fun of tall people back then. In a flash of insight he went to the local costume shop. Since Abraham Lincoln costumes didn’t exist yet he would have to improvise. He got a long black undertaker suit with a three-quarter length coat, and a stylish bow tie to accent. He also found a delightful twelve-inch stovepipe hat to make him tower well over seven feet tall.

He tried his act out at the local theatre.

“How y’all doin’. I’m Abraham Lincoln, a walking tree!”

The room was silent.

“I just flew back from Kentucky, and boy are my arms tired!”

Not even a chuckle. Apparently he would have to change his strategy.

“Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope.”

There was a slight chuckle...but then the theatre roared in laughter. Apparently his absurd notion of abolishing slavery was funny to the people. He toured all over the country with his comedy act, and the American people liked him so much they gave him a special title. And now he’s known as America’s sixteenth president.


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