Barker (occupation)

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Barker at the Vermont State Fair, 1941

A barker is a person who attempts to attract patrons to entertainment events, such as a circus or funfair, by exhorting passing public,[1] describing attractions of show and emphasizing variety, novelty, beauty, or some other feature believed to incite listeners to attend entertainment. A barker may conduct a brief free show, introducing performers and describing acts to be given at the feature performance. Professional barkers strongly dislike the term and instead refer to themselves as "talkers."

Perhaps the most famous fictional barkers are Billy Bigelow, the protagonist of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic stage musical Carousel, and Tin Man, a supporting protagonist from the 1978 musical film The Wiz portrayed by Nipsey Russell. Bigelow, in turn was an Americanized version of Liliom, the protagonist of Hungarian author Ferenc Molnár's non-musical play Liliom, on which Carousel is based.

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