talking with Jeff and Cheryl McIntyre from Sand Springs, OK
who have The Funny Farm
exhibit setup at the 2006 Tulsa
State Fair…I thought it might
be interesting to hear from a couple newcomers to the
For the folks that haven’t had the pleasure
of seeing your exhibit, would you tell us a little about
We have a critter show. We have snakes,
tortoises, turtles, lizards,
alligator, giant toads, a couple freak animals like the
2-headed turtle and the albino raccoon. It’s an educational
I saw Jeff feed the giant toads some live
mice yesterday. It’s really something to see! Those toads
are very aggressive predators.
Watch your fingers!
Do you feel your exhibit appeals to a
specific age group?
It’s basically geared to ages 4 to 15 years
How long has
The Funny Farm
been in operation?
It’s been in operation about seven years. We
started with the acquisition of an alligator and a small
tortoise and were invited to May Fest in Tulsa. As I was
feeding the tortoise, a crowd of 100 people or so gathered
around…A little light bulb clicked on…”Hey, I wondered if
they would pay for this?” We put out a tip can and that was
the start. We booked our first spot where we charged a
dollar and it took off from there. We took the proceeds and
dumped them back into the show so it would get bigger and
Do you have any improvements planned
for next year?
Some improvements; mainly streamline the
operation a bit. Make it a little less labor intensive.
Upgrade the animals with a few more unusual animals.
You have some very interesting
signage. Who did the artwork?
Well, I did the artwork with a little help. I
went to an art studio and they did some sketches, when we
got them home Cheryl blew them up to the size we needed and
I spent many hours painting them.
What are your earliest memories regarding
from upstate New York, we would go to an amusement park
called Crystal Beach
in Toronto, Canada. I remember seeing my first sideshow
there. The acts included the blockhead, fat lady, and
rubber-skinned man. I was only six or seven at the time but
the memory has stuck with me my whole life.
Was that the start of your interest in
sideshows and grind shows?
was. I also traveled with Dillard Amusement for six months
What was it about sideshows that drew you to
The strange and unusual has always attracted
any of your family evolved in outdoor entertainment?
No, but my grandmother was a gypsy. She did
fortune telling and palm readings. I found that out after I
got interested in sideshows.
Guess I better keep an eye on my
wallet now that I know you have gypsy blood, ha. ha!
I always see you two working sides by
side. How important is the teamwork between yourself and
Cheryl could not do it by herself and I
certainly would not want to do it without her. It’s very
important to have that one person you can trust and watch
You definitely get more done working as a
During the last year you have branched
out into some different venues including Sports Shows. Could
you tell us how that is working out?
Cheryl: It’s going
rather well. We booked several Hunting & Fishing shows this
year. We stillgear our show to the children. It gives the
kids something to do while dad is looking at the boats and
Is your setup different than at a fair?
It’s similar, but being inside we don’t set
up the tent.
Each of us have had people who
influenced us along the way, people who gave us a helping
hand. Who are some of the people who have influenced you and
Some people are lucky enough to have a
mentor…I have the privilege of being interviewed by my
mentor. Some people go to the fair to ride the rides, some
to eat corn dogs and cotton candy; I came to see the
sideshows and grind shows. I went to see your shows every
year, this was long before I ever met you.
big influence that has kept me inspired, is the Sideshow
World web site. If I’m feeling down or a little low, I read
through some of the stuff on Sideshow World and it gets me
fired up again.
Meeting Jim Zajicek and seeing his big
sideshow also had a positive influence on me.
Could you tell us a little about your
artifact and fossil collecting?
Here in Tulsa we are lucky to have the
Arkansas River running right through the middle of town. I
have a friend who has a curiosity shop. He had a mammoth leg
bone that came out of the Arkansas River. When I found that
out, Cheryl and I started walking the river looking for
artifacts. We have gathered a large collection the last few
years, including mammoth and sabre tooth bones.
Could you tell us a little about the gaffs
you have had built and what your plans are for them?
I enjoy our present show so much I had to
find something else I could build a show around. The
will be used for recreating human remains…mummies, etc. Most
of the new display
will be authentic. The gentleman that is creating the gaffs
for me makes gaffs for movie productions. He is very good.
I really enjoyed seeing your 2-headed snake
and 2-headed turtle. Could you tell us a little about
each of them?
I got the turtle from a friend of mine…He
told me he had heard about a 2-headed turtle that was for
sale. I asked if he could get some photos of it. That night
he called and I asked if he had the pictures. He said not
exactly, he had bought the turtle. So, I went over to see if
I could talk him out of it. Before I could say a thing about
buying it, he said, “It’s yours!”
The snake was very exciting because it was
alive…alive 2-headed red-tail boa. Unfortunately,
it was somewhat emaciated when I got it. I brought it out of
that and had it eating quite well the first month. It ate
out of the right head. But one time it ate out of the left
head. After eating out of the left head, it died about four
days later. Losing the boa was a very upsetting experience.
What are your thoughts on the “animal rights
wackos”? Do you believe they might affect your operation?
have had only one encounter. I feel very strongly that they
shouldn’t be forcing their ideas on other people. I do not
believe they will affect my operation.
If you could own your “Dream Sideshow” what
would it be?
You’ll just have to wait and see…I’m bringing
it out next year!
Could you tell us a little about it?
I can tell you this, it’ll be called…“Prof.
Isula’s Traveling Curiosities…
Prof. Isula, where did you come up with the
I’m adopted. Isula is my birth name.
Had my father lived to see me born this would have been my
name. The reason I chose this name is because my father’s
mother was a Polish Gypsy fortune-teller from Romania.
She read cards and palms. Anyway, it just seemed right.
In what ways will the new show be different
from The Funny Farm?
It will play to an older age group. I believe
it’ll be a stronger show. It will have only a few live
animals that are related to the show. And I plan to make it
easier to setup and operate.
Could you explain how it’ll be stronger?
We've been pleased
with the response to our present show. The Funny Farm
Strange and Unusual Critters, plays very well to children
and families throughout the day, but as the sun goes down
it's not quite strong enough to catch the young adults and
teens. The show had built itself and was operating before
we knew we had a show. Now that we've had a few years
experience, it's time to build our dream show. This new show
will have what it takes to catch the young, the old and the
in-betweens. It will be irresistible. That's all we can say
for now, you'll have to wait and see. It's in our blood, no
stopping us now!
Although you still have a day job, do you see
a time when you might become a full time showman?
I plan on hanging
on to my day job as long as I can. I won’t turn down any
bookings to be at work though. Once we get a full schedule
lined up, I’ll have to let my day job go. I will hate losing
Although their hey day is long gone, do you
believe there is still a future for sideshows?
Unlike many older showmen, I think sideshows
will make a big come back. I don’t think it’ll be quite the
same though, I believe it may be more of a nostalgia thing.
I have asked other showmen this question and
would be interested in hearing your answer. What would you
like inscribed on your tombstone?
That’s a hard one…I want them to MISS me when
What I really mean is that I want them to
miss my show.
Is there anyone you would like to thank
before we close?
I would very much like to thank Dr. West for
keeping me inspired and pointed in the right direction. And
I would like to thank my wife for all her support and love.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The only problem with sideshows is…there
aren’t enough of them!
Thank you both for taking
the time to do this interview for SIDESHOW WORLD.
Best of luck with your
by Rick West
All Photographs Courtesy of Rick West Copyright
©2006 all rights
1- Jeff and Cheryl at the Funny Farm
2- Cold Blooded one of the side panels from the show
3- Crocodillians another side panel
4- Jeff and Cheryl with a couple of their Critters
5- Jeff with mummified remains
6- Jeff and his 2 headed calf
7 Jeff , Croc and a young admirer
8- The Funny Farm
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