The Trained Monkey Effect


We’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon within the juggling subculture. We call it the Trained Monkey Effect (TME).

Here’s how it commonly occurs:

First, a non-juggler discovers that you know how to juggle and that you’re better than the average “I learned in my junior high gym class” juggler.

Second, they demand a demonstration, tossing you the three roundest objects in your nearest vicinity. You indulge them with a couple of different patterns, an around the back or under the leg, a 360 finish and they’re genuinely amazed. They might even clap a few times.

What begins after this incident is the essence of TME.

From this point forward, every time this person introduces you to someone new they say, “oh, and he (or she) can juggle!” and then throw you random objects to entertain your new acquaintance. Wallets, cell phones, rocks, water bottles–nothing is off limits.

TME is often initiated by bosses, older siblings, coaches, or anyone with a hint of authority, making it even harder for the juggler to do anything but acquiesce to the request for cheap entertainment. In addition to personal introductions, TME often occurs at parties, before business meetings, or to break the ice at other large gatherings.

While some jugglers enjoy this kind of “dance, monkey, dance!” attention, many feel trapped by TME. These jugglers would rather not be put on display like a circus animal but feel obligated to comply with the request and thus begrudgingly perform for the impromptu audience.

What you see below is a clear example of TME. You can tell by the look on this juggler’s face that his off-screen, over-served friends egged him on to perform when this party became too boring. So he does. But his lackluster performance is a clear indication the TME is occurring.

2 Replies to “The Trained Monkey Effect”

  1. I have had a little of the TME thrust upon me but it doesn’t affect my life.

    And, any videos of Jon Brady juggling are worth it.

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