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New Port Richey couple uses skill as professional clowns to excel on CBS The Amazing Race



daveandcherie.jpgThey ran a five-kilometer “mud race” and climbed a mountain at more than 8,000 feet above sea level to prepare.

But it turns out, New Port Richey residents David and Cherie Gregg may have found their most effective training to compete on CBS’ unscripted hit The Amazing Race came from their job:

Touring the country in a 19-foot van, performing as clowns for the Ringling Bros. circus.

“We work and live together 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Cherie Gregg, 44, who met husband Dave in clown college more than 20 years ago. “A lot of the new couples don’t really know their partners that well, because they don’t live and work together. Which is hard, because when you’re racing around the world, you’re literally together 24/7.”

Both Greggs actually serve as “Ambassadors of Laughter,” appearing at schools, pediatric care units and other places in advance of the Ringling Circus, touting reading programs and lessons tied to their circus skills.

They joined the Amazing Race for its 20th cycle, filmed late last year and including former Big Brother contestants Rachel Reilly and Brendan Villegas. The title of Sunday’s episode, “Tears of a Clown,” may provide a hint on how tough the start of the race was for the Greggs, who competed against 10 other teams in a competition which started with grabbing clues from hot air balloons and skydiving.

“It’s not so much about pushing couples to the breaking point as it is…seeing how they work through different problems and come up with solutions,” said Dave Gregg, also 44, showing off his clown-like tendency to see the positive side in most things. “There are some who melt down. But I think its more fascinating to see how people find new and creative ways to make things work.”

ambassadorsoflaughter.jpgThe couple, both fans of the show, originally applied nearly 10 years ago and heard nothing, only to find Ringling Bros. colleagues Jon Weiss and Al Rios were selected for the series’ fourth season back in 2003.

The Greggs shelved their dreams, figuring the show would never want another set of clowns, only to find CBS calling them to apply last year. “That’s why we tell people, never give up on your dreams,” Cherie Gregg said. “Ours just came true.”

Answering a reporter’s phone call with a slide whistle and bicycle horn, the Greggs seem the perfect clown team, finishing each other’s sentences regularly in the course of a 15-minute conversation.

But will they have the ruthlessness it takes to excel? “I don’t call it ruthless, I call it strategic,” Dave Gregg said. “You have to know when to push and shove to get ahead and when…"

“When to force a u-turn,” Cherie Gregg finished, referring to a feature of the game where you can delay other teams. “It’s a game, and everybody’s playing.”

Unfortunately, the Greggs travel so much for work, they will be in Mississippi when the show debuts Sunday, as friendas and family here celebrate without them. They moved to Florida after joining the circus in 1999, living close to its winter home in the Florida State Fairgrounds.

And they even have a theory why so many Floridians have landed on reality TV shows, including American Idol and tonight’s Undercover Boss.

“I think you get such a wide range of people migrating to Florida,” Cherie Gregg said. “Characters from all over the country land here." 

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 2:07pm]


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