Barker (occupation)

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Barker at the Vermont State Fair, 1941

A barker, often a carnival barker, is a person who attempts to attract patrons to entertainment events, such as a circus or funfair, by exhorting passing members of the public,[1] announcing attractions of show, and emphasizing variety, novelty, beauty, or some other enticing feature of the show. A barker would often conduct a brief free show, introducing performers and describing acts to be given at the feature performance. Professional barkers strongly disliked the term and instead referred to themselves as "talkers".[2]

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. The term barker has been adapted in modern times to describe political propagandists.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "barker definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16.
  2. ^ "How to Seize Attention with the Secrets of a Sideshow Barker Step right up!".