The ringmaster who ran away to join the circus

By Madeleine Byron

The curled moustache, the tasselled suit and the top hat sings ringmaster - and Silvers Circus’ Simon Tait can hold his own note and key.

Falling in love with performing at just nine years old, Mr Tait spent his school years as the class clown.

“I had no interest in the classes whatsoever, all I was interested in was the social aspect and at lunchtime I was a star," he said.

"Every group liked me, the beautiful people, the nerds and then the thugs, every lunchtime I would do the rounds and entertain them all."

Going through the paces of drama school, Mr Tait was surprised when he met a travelling American clown.

“He was incorporating a lot of mime in his act and I’d just come out of university and I thought that was interesting so I introduced myself and asked if I could become an apprentice,” he said.

Mr Tait approached the Sole Brothers’ Circus owner, packed his bags and bought a caravan.

“I ran away to join the circus at 21.” 

Reminiscing on the early days, the smell of sawdust never left the newly employed clown as he ventured around Australia.

He said the circus life became a lifestyle rather than a career.

“The morning after a show and the only thing left is that ring of sawdust, you go and stand in the middle of it and it’s just like magic, imagining the noise, the laughter and the smell of the animals from the night before, you have to ask yourself if it was all real.”

After being poached by an international circus the young clown was thrown into the ringmaster role, before making his way back to Australia when he was first employed by Silvers Circus.

Settling with the circus for four years, Mr Tait made a career change into laser games.

“That didn’t last long and the Simon Tait presents: Weber Brothers Circus came to life,” he said.  

“It was the first circus in Australia for many years to have live music.”

After travelling to New Zealand and teaming up with the Edgley Moscow Circus, Mr Tait’s career again took another strange turn.

This time back to his home town in Queensland to open a takeaway fish and chip shop.

“Two-and-a-half years I worked that shop and I was so glad to see the end of it when Silvers Circus welcomed me back,” Mr Tait said.

“I have been with them for 15 years now.”

Coming back to the life he had left behind, Mr Tait brought with him the knowledge and experience of a well-travelled ringmaster.

“I used to meditate and get a bit of excitement and imagine myself as a child visiting the circus, arriving up to the tent with the fairy lights on and the smell of the dust and a Dagwood dog on a stick and the fairy floss,” he said.

“I try and believe that I am looking every single person in the audience in the eye and that contact with the audience is how you’re changing their lives and they will carry that as a memory of the circus forever.”