Honors College Student Life

Honors Student Joins the Circus

Hofstra Mechanical Engineering major Matthew “Phineas” Lish is running away to join the Ringling Bros. Circus Xtreme.

This January, Lish will be trading in his knapsack full of textbooks for a wardrobe decked out in Swarovski crystals. He will be living on the world famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train, and duties will include performing in the pre and main shows; participating in various publicity events; and conducting community outreach, including making hospital and schools visits.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced this level of excitement before,” said Lish. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

Lish is no stranger to the clowning game. He comes from a family of clowns, having performed alongside his father and younger sister for most of his life. The Honors College sophomore also holds the world record in the Record Holders Republic for juggling three clubs while bouncing on a pogo stick.

Auditions for Circus Xtreme were held in July 2015 before Lish started his first semester at Hofstra. The first part of the audition involved a series of improvisational games to test his ability to work with people and think on his feet. The second part of the audition was a solo performance. He did a comedic spoof of a classic magic trick, the needle through the balloon, which is now the opening bit in his one man show, “I Think, Therefore I Clown.” Lish was offered a gig on the spot but decided to pursue his studies instead. The opportunity arose again over the summer of 2016, and Honors College deans Lauren Kozol and Warren Frisina worked with Lish to make it possible for him to pursue his dream.

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