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I heard someone shout:

"Diesen Affenzirkus hier mache ich nicht länger mit!"

It seemed the person was very annoyed. What would be the meaning of "Affenzirkus" here? Is there a corresponding English expression? Where did this expression originate?

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How does it happen that question remain without answers for 1 to 7 hours, and then there are 2 answers within minutes? :-) – Hendrik Vogt Aug 29 '11 at 11:52
@Hendrik Well, on this one, it could have been two people posting during their lunch break. The other one could have been breakfast :) – takrl Aug 29 '11 at 13:43
up vote 13 down vote accepted

It means that the person complains about a farce he or she is involved and wants to stop taking part in it. Sometimes Affentheater is used instead of Affenzirkus. proposes this translation:

I didn't want to play along with the charade any more.

The expression has its origin in the 19th century traveling shows:

Affenzirkus/Affentheater nennt der Volksmund ein übertriebenes Gebaren, den blanken Unsinn, viel unnütze Aufregung um nichts. Ursprünglich war das »Affentheater« eine Tierschau auf Jahrmärkten: Im Europa der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts ließen reisende Schausteller gern verkleidete Affen allerlei akrobatische Kunststückchen und Imitationen menschlicher Handlungen vorführen.

Auch Menschen verhalten sich zuweilen wie Affen im Gehege, Vorgesetzte geben nur allzugern das Alphamännchen, die Büro-Hackordnung weist oft verblüffende Parallelen zwischen menschlichem und tierischem Verhalten auf.


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+1 Your answer is better because it adds a bit of background I couldn't provide. – takrl Aug 29 '11 at 13:03
As a less colorful variant you can also use "Theater" or "Zirkus" alone. – starblue Aug 29 '11 at 13:05

A very similar word that could be used in almost the same context is "Affentheater". I'd think english expressions that are similar to both of them are

  • monkey business
  • charade

So in your example, it could be something like

I'm not putting up with this monkey business any longer!

I'm not taking part in this charade any longer!

I can't answer regarding it's origins though ...

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