The tattooed lady, sword swallower, and frog man are some of the people you might meet at a sideshow, a smaller show that's part of a carnival or circus. A sideshow is also something that distracts from a main event.
The first sideshows happened at the Barnum & Bailey Circus, from the idea that some performers would be better viewed up close, instead of in a large tent. The popularity of sideshows grew through the first half of the 20th century. Attractions ranged from so-called "freaks" like the contortionists to tricks like sword swallowing and fire breathing. Today sideshow is often used for something that takes attention away from what's really important.