Massimiliano Truzzi described in "The American Circus"

By John Culhane

3 balls on foot The acrobatic sensation of the 1942 season was a juggler named Massimiliano Truzzi, whom North found at the Cirque Royal in Brussels. North figured that Truzzi's technique would appeal to Robert Benchley, a humorist famed for being all thumbs physically, mentally, and spiritually, and Benchley's reaction did not disappoint him. Sitting in North's box on opening night, 1942, watching Truzzi put every object around him in orbit around his head without dropping anything, Benchley sighed: "Look at that son of a bitch, and I can't even get a cup of coffee up to my mouth."

Eventually, Truzzi got even better by dropping things. Emmett Kelly [the famous tramp clown], who called Truzzi "a great juggler with a rare streak of comedy in his work," said that it was Truzzi's idea to let the clown burlesque not just jugglers' acts in general, but his specific act. They worked out a routine in which Truzzi's good-looking wife, who assisted him, would give Kelly the eye while Truzzi was trying to hold the attention of the crowd with his juggling. Kelly would give a shy wave to Mrs. Truzzi with his red bandana - and Mr. Truzzi would begin dropping the plates he had up to then had no difficulty keeping in the air.

Trying to be helpful, Kelly would come to Truzzi with an old burlap sack and offer to catch the plates Truzzi could no longer keep from dropping. Not surprisingly, Truzzi would reject the offer of help, and order Kelly out of the ring, making the eternally misunderstood Weary Willie sadder than ever.

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