The Catch-A-Quick Jugglers will make a much shorter trip to the summer convention. This trio and occasionally quartet of jugglers lives just 180 miles from San Jose in Chico, California.
Sy Bazis, Lynn Danehy, Daryl Kuster and Michael Taylor have been getting steady work locally for about six years now. Their plan for the summer is to crank up operations into full-time employment. The challenge of marketing their act enough to provide legitimate employment for that many people is a tremendous one. However, hopes are high in Chico. "Things are going well, we're booked almost every weekend this summer," Taylor reported.
Through experience, they've learned the lesson of all professional jugglers -- that juggling is merely a vehicle for entertainment.
"We do a lot of things to involve the audience," Taylor said. There are clowning and skits, as well as juggling of odd objects like eggs, plungers, machetes and lots of torches. One of the most successful for their school assembly programs is lining up youngsters to walk through a club passing pattern. As a spotter holds the line of squealing youngsters back, the passers count "One, two, go!" for the cue to run quickly before the next pass.
"If someone is totally out of sync, we can adjust the pass to go around or over them," Taylor said. "We haven't hit anyone in years."
The important thing is that the kids love it, and that gets Catch-A-Quick invited back time after time.
The walk through probably won't be included in their act for the Team Championships at the IJA convention though. For that they're planning "club passing and comedy." Be there to see it!
About now, the 5-person team "Manic Expressions" is somewhere in Texas juggling their way to the San Jose convention. This quintet of North Carolinians -- Rebel Bailey, Casey Canter, Tommy Gabriel, Mark Lippard and Wally Long -- are following their juggling dream down a 4,000-mile, three month road.
They've been working on their act in bits and pieces over the past two years, but their geographical distribution across the mountains makes concentrated practice impossible. It was time to hit the road together, they decided. They customized Long's '67 Econoline van to include bunks in back and a big equipment box on top. They ordered new equipment and said goodbye to jobs and parents. That's the makings of a great cross-country adventure!
"We're just going to street juggle and try to get booked wherever we can along the way," said Gabriel. "If we get gigs we'll stay in one place for a while. If not, we'll move on!"
Is this a case of five starry-eyed jugglers headed out into the wilderness, unaware of the perils in those woods? "Yea, that's pretty much us!" Gabriel replied.
Mainly, though, it's a commitment to friendship by five people brought together through their common interest in juggling. Don't you wish you could go along?
Young Joel Heidtman doesn't worry about conforming with the Big Walnut High School crowd in Westerville, Ohio. This enthusiastic juggler has discovered that cultivating a specialty can lead to notoriety far beyond your actual worth, and he's milking it for all he can!
He serves as his own press agent and booking service, and does well at both. Local media have been as taken by his unabashed excitement over juggling as his friends. First it was an article in the high school paper, then a local paper and finally a PM Magazine piece that aired nationwide!
Heidtman and his brothers, Mike and Chad, have organized the Jest Jugglers club and outfitted members with satin jackets. Joel, a senior, practices his skill with diligence and makes it pay off in cash! He has worked at a local night club, and got a job this summer working at Wyandotte Lake amusement park. He has performed at festivals and foot races, as well as doing a television commercial for a charity food drive.
He's just about got five clubs licked, but recognizes that he needs to develop a unique act. For this high school band member, that "piece de resistance" is bouncing a ball on his head while he plays tenor saxophone! Last year he won a prize at the Saint Fred's Day festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Next year he hopes to attend Ringling Brothers Clown College and learn more about the world of entertainment.
Joel's experience proves that young people can make a name for themselves and gain public confidence through diligent juggling. The most vital ingredients are still enthusiasm and confidence.
The oldest person at the San Jose convention will undoubtedly be 95-year-old Homer Stack from nearby Burlingame. A friend, Dorothy Hardwicke, reports that Stack still walks around the block every day and talks eagerly about the state of the world and his favorite subject -- juggling.
Stack will be able to offer some valuable historical perspective to youngsters trying to make money by juggling. As a young man he played the character of a juggling tramp in Vaudeville houses all over the country. Since retiring from show business, he has been a friend and teacher to all who visit.
Ed McMahon didn't do his homework that night! The "Tonight Show" co-host announced Barry Friedman and Dan Holzman to the studio audience and millions of home viewers on March 28 as "The Raspuny Brothers." They're known correctly to IJA members (and Johnny Carson, as he proved as they came on stage) as The Raspyni Brothers.
They came to Carson's Burbank, California, studio from a most successful run with "Hat's Off," a Los Angeles variety show. Since Ed Sullivan and the Ted Mack Amateur Hour left television, the "Tonight Show" has come to represent the ultimate in television appearances for jugglers.
The Raspynis made the most of their moment in the sun with a cute apple and carrot eating routine and six club passing with a kickup to seven. They closed with the difficult seven clubs passed back to back. The duo was scheduled for a repeat "Tonight Show" appearance and a "Merv Griffin Show" appearance during May.
Besides live appearances, Michael Davis continues to get more television work than any other juggler these days. He starred in a Cinemax cable parody of the Western "High Noon" that aired 10 times in March. The premise held that Davis had hung up his juggling clubs, but was forced to defend his honor again when four rowdies (The Raspynis, Dan Rosen and Tyler Linkin) crashed his party and passed torches around him as a challenge to a duel.
In the climactic juggle-off, Davis kept his turkey, cake and butter up longer than the rowdies to prove again he can get a bigger hand out of making a mess than anyone.
He also juggled food on the David Letterman show. Letterman demonstrated his own juggling skill briefly, but didn't dare imitate Davis's "major food groups" juggle -- butter, bread and liver. "It ends up with a butter hat," Davis explained.
Davis displayed admirable professional ethics recently when he bought a joke from a San Diego street magician. "I told him I liked his joke and asked him if he would sell it to me for $100," Davis said. "He said OK and I wrote him out a check. If he had refused, I would never have used it."
Davis has performed that "juggling on a motorcycle" skit regularly ever since. The controversy over jugglers stealing material from others might be considerably cooled if jokes were treated as commodities, bought and sold according to supply and demand. Next time you see a juggler doing a joke you'd like to use, follow Davis's lead and offer to buy the rights to use it!