San Diego is rich with jugglers these days. But they are hardly rich jugglers! One of them, Brad French, said, "There's a mess of jugglers and hardly any place to work."
Besides the free, open and sometimes crowded performance arenas in Balboa Park, there are few good paying venues. French considers himself lucky to have succeeded Ben Decker as a regular attraction at Seaport Village. Others looking for and occasionally finding jobs in the area are Ray Wold, the new "Blunder Twins" team of Jamie Atkins & Neal Hartmann, Craig Armstrong with his acrobatic juggling and impressive 5-ball multiplexes, and David Kamatoy, a sharp young protege of Mark Nizer.
Others do pass through from time to time. The Raspyni Brothers, Dan Holzman & Barry Friedman, were in San Diego to juggle at halftime of the Holiday Bowl football game. You may have seen them on ESPN as they juggled torches and entertained the crowd. They were also hired to juggle in two other shows - one for the 1,000 executives who staged the Holiday Bowl. Friedman said all the tuxedos made it look like they were juggling for a bunch of penguins.
The second night the Raspynis juggled for 1,500 of those in the marching band, drill team, and the cheerleaders - mainly a loud high school audience.
The show started with the each of them doing three clubs. Then Holzman did a solo 3 club and 4 club routine. Friedman entered and they passed six clubs while bouncing a ball head to head, with the audience counting bounces. They had a purposeful drop, with an audience member throwing it in to a six club pass again. There was some great comedy with this bit. Then it was a kick up pass into a seven club passing routine.
They ended the show by passing six machetes around a volunteer, while they had a hoop spinning at their ankles, and a ball spinning on a mouthstick. The show had great comedy throughout, and the audience was highly entertained.
As mentioned earlier, Brad French is juggling at Seaport Village. French knew he wanted to be a performer at a young age, and started juggling a decade ago at age 20 after seeing jugglers in San Francisco. French started juggling by himself and didn't think of doing single flips with clubs. He thought he only had time for doubles, and didn't try singles until he met someone who showed him it could be done.
French started his Seaport show with ball spinning, passing one ball under his arm and behind the back. He spun one ball on top of another.
The show continued with routines using three and four balls. He juggled four balls while bouncing a volleyball on his head, and also threw the volleyball over the top of the pattern of the smaller balls. Three pigs were juggled with some great comedy. After this French made another comedy routine of spinning a ball on the tip of a young boy's finger.
Devil stick time. Then a mouthstick routine with the volleyball, rolling the ball around his body. The routine ended with the volleyball rolled to the end of the mouthstick. Next was the cannon ball comedy trick, which he did very well.
His stunning finale trick left the audience greatly impressed. French placed a bowling ball on the top of a 4-foot unsupported stepladder. He balanced the ladder and climbed up it to stand on top of the ball. Then he stood on one foot on the ball. From this pose he put a small ball on the top of the other foot, balanced a stuffed dragon on top of his head, and juggled three torches at the same time. This trick looked, and is, very dangerous.
He has been performing it for about three years. It began with him standing on the bowling ball on the ground, but he noticed that with the audience crowded around, no one saw the bowling ball. So he decided to elevate the ball and went to a hardware store looking for a ladder. At first he thought about a 12-footer, but caution steered him lower. He decided to start out at four feet and work his way up, but for three years now four feet has been quite high enough for both performer and audience!
He explained that the bowling ball rests on a rubber seal over an indentation on the top step. He said, "Kids will come up after the show, see the resting spot and say 'Oh! I see how you do that!' like that's the key to the whole trick and anyone could do it with the gimmick. I say, 'Great, you hop up there!'
Kit Summers is author of the new book, "Contacts for Booking Acts Worldwide".