How does this clown from Cirque du Soleil survive immolation?
July 14, 2004 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I saw Cirque du Soleil's "O" in Las Vegas. One of the best shows that I've ever seen. However, it did lead to one of those, "How did they do that moments." (More inside. If you haven't seen the show and think you may, you may want ot pass on viewing).

So -- at one point in the show, in th midst of another act, a clown walks out towards the back of the stage, sits down in a straight-backed chair and starts reading a newspaper. The paper catches on fire, and slowly but surely, so does the clown and the chair. The fire burns. . . and burns . . . and burns for what truely must be three or four minutes. The clown then stands picks up his chair and slowly walkes off the stage -- where one assumes he immediately dies of third-degree burns to his entire body and smoke inhalation.

Does anyone know how he does this? I understand protective suits and all but this goes on for way too long. I cannot ven figure out how he breathes through this.
posted by rtimmel to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In part, training. I actually saw a Discovery Channel show where they went over how they did that. He's got a full Nomex (I think that's the name ... same fireproof suit that race car drivers wear) suit on underneath it, which gives him enough insulation from the heat and fire that he won't get burnt. Apparently it covers most of his head too and the back of his neck is makeup.

I'm not sure how he breathes when he's a human torch (I did see it, a few years ago), but I imagine there's a technique to it.

The thing that amazed me most was the diving. I didn't realize how deep the pool went... it's got to be at least twenty or thirty feet!

One thing to note is that they change the show constantly. Night to night, in some cases, as they switch out performers with different skills and capabilities. My parents, who'd seen it six months before we saw it together last March, said it was very different from when they saw it.
posted by SpecialK at 9:13 AM on July 14, 2004

Haven't seen the show, but Pyro Gel is probably part of the trick -- burns at a relatively low temperature, no smoke.
posted by ook at 9:18 AM on July 14, 2004

There is a chemical that can be used for stage fires. I can't remember the chemical name, but the product was sold as "cold fire". Burns at a lower temp. Not really cold, just not as hot, therefore not quite as dangerous, but not "safe". Kids, don't try this at home

Sounds very cool. There is a newspaper effect in the movie Brazil, that I had to watch frame by frame several times. recommended.
posted by theora55 at 9:23 AM on July 14, 2004

The world record for breath holding is something close to 13 minutes, so that might be part of it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:20 PM on July 14, 2004

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