A Few Questions For the Jugglng Subculture

Why aren’t there any jugglers headlining in Vegas?

Why don’t average people know the name of any professional jugglers?

Why hasn’t there ever been a feature film about a juggler?

Why hasn’t a juggler ever won America’s Got Talent?

Why are there only a handful of juggling blogs and most of them rarely updated?

Why is a cruise ship job, the highest gig many jugglers aspire to?

The juggling subculture has a ton of talented, entertaining, hard-working, skilled performers; why don’t normal people know who they are?

What are we going to do about it?

Simon Cowell’s Juggling Philosophy

Simon Cowell, of American Idol fame, moonlights as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent where he expressed this philosophy on what it takes to be an entertaining juggler:

No one’s interested in a juggler unless there’s a good chance he’s going to kill himself.

Obviously those who view juggling as purely sport would balk at such a comment, but it’s an interesting thing to think about for anyone putting together a juggling show for the street.

Here’s one guy who Simon was very impressed with:

Patrick Dempsey-“Sexiest Juggler Alive”

Before he was a star on the small screen or the big screen, Patrick Dempsey was a juggler. And apparently he’s pretty good. At the age of 15, Dempsey won 2nd place–losing only to Anthony Gatto–at an IJA competition in Cleveland.

Dempsey talks about his run as a competing juggler in a recent Newsweek article that declares him the “sexiest juggler alive.” The article also mentions that Dempsey’s juggling skills will make a cameo in his new movie Made of Honor.

Here’s an 18-year-old Dempsey juggling in a 1984 music video called “Overnight Success”:

Click here to read the Newsweek interview.

Click here to see him talk about his juggling past on the Ellen Dejeneres show.

Jugglers’ Journey in Japan

Jugglers’ Journey in Japan CoverI had no idea what I was getting when I ordered this DVD. Even after reading the descriptions on the Dube website I didn’t know if this was footage of someone touring Japan with a juggling show, or if it was a performance DVD of some well known Japanese juggler, or something completely different.

I was pleasantly surprised. Jugglers’ Journey in Japan turns out to be a well crafted montage of about a dozen Japanese jugglers. Their skills range from beautiful to jaw dropping (really you should see these guys toss up 5 balls and pirouette more times than seems humanly possible!). There is something about the Japanese culture that approaches juggling more like a martial art than a circus trick, creating technically tough but precisely executed tricks and combinations that you just don’t see from American or European jugglers.

Some of the highlights: A guy who juggles behind his head while walking around a bus stop; a “big-boned” cigar box manipulator; a surprisingly light and entertaining soundtrack; and about a hundred tricks that you’ve never even thought of trying.

Juggling and Fine Art?

Pablo Picasso once said,

“I am always doing what I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Doesn’t he sound like a juggler!?

Picasso painted this during his “rose period” in 1905. During that time he painted various types of performers–tumblers, guitar players, harlequins, etc. He must have admired this guy who was able to do things most people couldn’t. He must have felt a connection between his own pursuit of artistic feats and the dexterous pursuits of this juggler.

I particularly like that the juggler in this painting isn’t juggling, and has none of his juggling props with him. It’s just a painting of a juggler like you and me.

Commercial Juggling

Once in a while an ad executive gets a great idea for an advertisement that involves juggling. Here are two recent examples from Burger King and Visa. These commercials are interestingly similar even though they represent completely different products. Notice how juggling is associated with success, efficiency, and intelligence.Hmmm.

Beauty and the Juggler

The juggling subculture has invaded the land of television. On this season of Beauty and the Geek (Tuesday nights on the CW), John, an MIT student and analog circuit designer, plans on winning the competition using his brain and his juggling skills.john.jpg

Hopefully this is just the beginning of a trend of jugglers invading reality TV. Next we’ll find a juggler on America’s Next Top Model, or becoming The Next Food Network Star!

Until then, from one juggling geek to another, I say: Go John Go!

(See an interview with John and his “beauty” partner Natalie by clicking here.)