Human Cannonball to Sue After Being Fired for Fear of Flying

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Todd the Human Cannonball told reporters Thursday that he is considering a lawsuit for wrongful termination against his employer, the Cottle and Austen Combined Circus. Cannonball claims he was fired after he told his employer that he was afraid to fly. His replacement, Diego the Human Rocket, told the Times “I feel sorry for Todd but being a human cannonball is what I have always dreamed of doing and I’m very happy.”

Okay. Now I know this one sounds a little too good to be true, and so I have done some checking. There is in fact a circus in England called the Cottle and Austen Combined Circus. And it does appear that it currently employs a “Human Rocket” named “Diago,” which is close enough for me.

The website does not mention Todd the Human Cannonball, as you would expect it to do if this were some kind of publicity stunt. Also, the article quotes a “conciliation service” called ACAS with which Cannonball is supposed to have been consulting about his lawsuit, and ACAS exists as well. And frankly, that’s a lot more fact-checking already than you people should be expecting to get in a free smart-ass email like this one, especially given that we are experiencing a small earthquake here in San Francisco as I am typing (we really are). So let’s get back to our story.

Todd the Human Cannonball, also known as Todd Christian, surprisingly claims to come from a “circus family” and says he was a lion trainer and trapeze artist before becoming a human cannonball in February. Recently he injured his knee while performing the stunt, and the circus decided to send him to a space center in Brazil for special training, because that is evidently where one goes to learn how to be shot out of a cannon, or maybe how to land safely after being shot out of one.

This does suggest a reason why Brazil’s space program has not had greater success.

Anyway, Todd refused to go, saying he is afraid to fly. “I know it sounds silly because I’m a human cannonball,” he said, “but I don’t like long flights, and if I’m on a plane for a long time I start to panic. They sacked me on the spot; I am devastated…. [They] offered me another job but I don’t want it. I was employed to get fired out of the cannon and that’s what I want to do.” Unfortunately for Todd, Diego Zeman was available and has had the special training. Zeman is Brazilian, which seems like cheating since he doesn’t have fly to the special classes. He is also falsely advertising his services, since if he is being shot out of a cannon and is not self-propelled then he is not acting as a “human rocket” at all. But I’m sure this will all come out in court.

Marnie Dock, Cottle and Austen’s expert cannon trainer, who according to the report became the first female human cannonball at the age of 16, said Todd was terminated for his own safety. “It can be a very dangerous stunt,” she said. “The cannon puts a lot of pressure on the leg and back,” and so “without the proper training in Brazil it would be too dangerous for him to continue. We did it for his own safety; he’s a great guy and we offered him another job, but he refused.” She said the circus’s lawyers did not believe he had a case.