Backpacker Radio 70 | Sean “Shug” Emery on Life as a Circus Clown and Hammock Camping

Today we are joined by Shug Emery.  In addition to being a hammock enthusiast, with almost 100,000 YouTube subscribers, Shug’s previous profession was as a circus clown for Barnum and Bailey.  We obviously go way down the traveling circus rabbit hole, and we promise you his stories do not disappoint.  Shug also shares his top tips for beginning hammockers, what his setup looks like, and what goes into making a successful YouTube channel.

We close out the show with some Trek propaganda, a triple crown of things we will no longer take for granted, and, another edition of backcountry matchmaking.

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00:03:00 – Chaunce is BORED

00:08:45 – Zach doesn’t like pandemics.

00:09:06 – Interview with (and intro of) Shug (Sean Emery)!

00:10:42 – How Shug got started as a clown

00:12:20 – Clown College is competitive!

00:18:08 – Clown College Know-It-Alls

00:20:10 – Stories from the Circus 

00:25:40 – How many days a week is the circus? Do you get time off? 

00:28:06 – Spotlight guys always know where the good weed and food is!

00:28:48 – Is there a hierarchy in the circus? 

00:33:20 – Why do people get into clowning? It’s not for the pay, so what’s the draw? 

00:41:30 – What was your clown name? 

00:43:20 – Where did the name Shug come from? 

00:48:55 – What are the top skills for becoming a great clown?

00:53:08 – You went on to do a solo clown show? 

00:59:00 – At the end of Clown College you get selected for contracts, and not everyone goes!

01:07:20 – Any circus secrets you can reveal? 

01:14:10 – Why do you hammock? 

01:16:07 – What is your backpacking background? 

01:23:11 – If someone had a free week, what would you recommend for the Boundary Waters?  

01:26:22 – Why hammock over tenting? 

01:29:51 – What should someone look for in a good hammock? 

01:35:16 – What is a good hammock hang vs. a bad hammock hang?

01:45:26 – Is Minnesota a wet state?

1:46:30 – What’s your setup on a -40 night? 

01:48:28 – Advice from someone in your age range (early 60’s) who wants to start backpacking? 

01:52:30 – Shug does art, too!

01:59:08 – Putting out content is hard!

2:00:20 – Any parting advice? 

02:15:00 – Find Shug on YouTube



02:18:30 – Trek Propaganda

02:19:30 – Triple Crown of Things We Took For Granted!

02:30:22 – Did Chaunce watch the last dance? 

02:31:57 – Things that aren’t Coronavirus 

02:33:15 – Zach has never heard of cookie cake?? 

02:37:00 – Pupdates (also a poop story) 

02:44:50 – Mail Bag 

02:48:08 – Backcountry Matchmaking!

02:57:11 – 5 Star Reviews!

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Comments 7

  • Drew Boswell : May 15th

    Shug is a treasure. His videos encouraged me (and who knows how many others) to try a hammock, getting my aging body off the ground and turning sleeping in the woods from torture to bliss. The obvious delight that comes through in his videos made me jealous; I wanted some for myself. Shug makes backpacking and especially hammock camping accessible and less daunting. I’m happy that the Trek has featured him and hope it widens his audience. He deserves it.

  • Tom W Sibalski : May 16th

    Watched Shug for over 11 years and learned much from him. I watch his videos because he loves what he does and shows passion. He keeps it light and doesn’t take himself to seriously. I know he taught me alot and I appreciate what he does. He’s one the good guys.

  • Oliver : May 16th

    What a great podcast, thanks for letting Shug flow the way only he can. Watched his new ridge-line video this morning and this was a great bonus.

  • Clay Bonnyman Evans : May 17th

    What a great, fun interview. Very much in the Robin Williams mold, for sure.

    That said, I don’t think I could ever be a hammocker. I’m too wedded to pack explosion, and I just don’t see how you do that in a hammock.


  • Myles : May 17th

    Whooooooo Buddyy

  • John Stevens : May 20th

    No trees? Look into “turtle dogs”!

  • Steven Cypher : May 22nd

    Best podcast since Kevin Nealon! Thanks for making me a Shug fan.


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