Belfast Telegraph

Tumble Circus ringmaster says mum still waiting for him to get a proper job - 'I've been in the circus 25 years'

Ken Fanning

By Kerry McKittrick

43-year-old Ken Fanning, who is single, lives in Belfast and has one son, Pogin (10). He is the ring master of the Tumble Circus, which will have a big top in Writer's Square in the city centre until December 18.

My best moment

Holding my newborn son for the first time.

My best song

At the moment it's Nick Cave's I Need You. It's so good, I have limited the amount of time that I allow myself to hear it.

My best way to relax

In bed asleep after a few beers and a good yarn with some friends over some good food. And this is something I get to do all the time - that's basically what circus is: we do shows together, have a drink and then head home.

My best job

Anything that can be referred to as a job could never be a best anything. I don't have a job, I perform at a circus. I'm also a film-maker and I'm heading to Australia soon to make a movie about a circus family. I failed absolutely everything at school because I'm dyslexic. I never wanted to be in a circus - in fact, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but someone taught me how to juggle and it all went from there. I went to circus schools and then travelled the world. My mother is still waiting for me to get a proper job as I've been doing this for 25 years.

My best bit of advice

Everything in moderation. I spend my life surrounded by circus personalities who push themselves to the limit both physically and emotionally. While it's good to push yourself in order to maximise your abilities, you have got to be safe as well.

My best movie

Stanley Kubrick's comedy drama Barry Lyndon. It is perfect or very close to, and it's set in Ireland.

My best gift

Teaching circus skills - then watching the kids I have instructed become successful artists and continue the circus adventure. And my son's version of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, which he painted at school. I have it framed at home.

My best achievement

Managing to live in Belfast as a circus artist and make and tour with the shows we believe in. The company has won international awards for is unique and innovate work. The Tumble Circus set out to reinvent the concept of the circus, and I'm happy that has been achieved. And we hope to bring a whole new audiences to our performances.

My best buy

My bike. It was hand-built by local legend David Kane and it is beautiful. It comes on tour with me to places like Norway, Germany, France, Italy and several other countries. Cycling is freedom for me. I walked into the shop not really wanting to buy a bike and then spent hours talking to him about it.

My best book

I'm dyslexic, so when I left school I could barely read. But I managed to teach myself and found better ways of dealing with the condition, and I read a lot now. My favourite book is Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker.

The Tumble Circus show Snow is for all the family, while Raucous is for adults. Both will be in Writer's Square in central Belfast until December 18. For tickets and show times, visit

Belfast Telegraph


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