A circus clown falls in unrequited love with the new tightrope walker and flying trapeze artist. Unlike other aerial acts, the girl insists on never practicing with a net, which everyone else considers either wildly impressive or wildly stupid. The clown makes a habit of running into the girl whenever he can and overthinks every conversation they have. The girl says she never practices with a net because if she did, “it wouldn’t count”. None of the girl’s catchers last more than a week, because her using no net becomes too much pressure. The details the girl provides about her life don’t add up and are often contradictory. After the first night the trapeze girl performs, the crowd goes wild, and she kisses the lion tamer as soon as she descends. The clown is upset. He previously thought of the lion tamer as laughable and ill-suited for his job. The clown begins to perform a bit right after the lion tamer’s act, where he fills his pants with kibble and three dogs with tutus around their necks chase him around the ring. Even though he knows he, the clown, is meant the be the brunt of every joke, he wants the crowd to be laughing at the poor efforts of the lion tamer when he follows the lion tamer’s act with this. However, the lion tamer improves tremendously, so while the clown’s set is well-received, it has none of the cathartic punch the clown wished it had. The clown’s resentment for the lion tamer builds. The clown recalls conversations with the trapeze girl in which he made fun of the lion tamer and she smiled or laughed. One night, the clown hears the girl and the lion tamer arguing in his trailer and hopes his opening will arise. Later, the girl tells the clown the lion tamer felt pressured into his job because his father was a lion tamer. The conversation becomes serious and the girl tells the clown to “say something funny”. The clown says, “I love you”, and the girl is angry. The clown reflexively does a standard sight gag and bops himself on the head. A later day, the clown sees the girl cheating on the lion tamer with the strong man. He runs away and trips and looks up to see the lion tamer, who asks where the girl is. The lion tamer’s newfound confidence causes the clown to point to where the girl is, and the lion tamer catches her cheating. At the next show, the clown doesn’t want to perform the act with the dogs, but the ringmaster makes him, because it’s a crowd-pleaser. The lion tamer goes up first and tries his new act, with a dozen lions—way more than he ever works with—and they attack him. The lights go dark in his ring to hide what’s happening from the audience and switch to the clown, who only has prepared the act making fun of the lion tamer, which would obviously be in poor taste. He freezes and the dogs rip his pants, containing the kibble. The crowd boos him and throws trash. The clown looks up at the girl high above, willing her to look down and meet his eyes and see it’s not his fault; however, the girl steps out onto the tightrope as if walking away from the entire circus.
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