Geoffrey Mcallister, Deseret News
Jonathan Contreras, 9, of Salt Lake tells a joke alongside Daisy the clown at Utah's funniest kids contest Saturday at Valley Fair Mall.

The "Greatest Show on Earth" staked a tent in Valley Fair Mall in search of Utah's funniest kids.

"It looked like a circus," said Caralina Gonzalez, an 8- year-old contestant.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus turned the mall's center court on Saturday into a mini-circus with a tent and a floor ring in its signature color, red. An assortment of helium balloons, including circus animals and white-face clowns, trailed up the tent's front posts.

The ringmaster welcomed a small, cheering crowd of parents and children in a baritone voice. Daisy, the Goodwill Ambassador clown, had her hand cupped above her brow and exaggeratedly swayed side to side in search of Utah's funniest kids.

Daisy's search ended with 10 children dressed in fun, cartoonish hats. The young contenders, collective and cool from the waist up, were expending pent-up excitement through their fidgety knees.

Each of the children rattled a joke such as a classic "knock, knock," with each punch line followed by high-fives from Daisy.

Three of the contestants advanced to the finals, which will be Sept. 8 at the Utah State Fair. All contestants received a free ticket to the circus.

Finalist Elizabeth Failner, 9, did an Ewok impression that played well with the audience.

The other finalists were Alyssa Mauchley, 11, and Sidney Brinton, 3.

Brinton, an orphan adopted this past June, came late to the event but won the hearts of the judges when he played his ukulele.

"He loves to wiggle," said his mom, Jennifer Brinton. "He's a natural at working the crowd and getting people to be a part of the fun."

Seven more contests will be held around the state. The winner of the finals will be a guest clown at the circus when it comes to town later this year.

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