5forFoley: 5 questions, 5 answers
Check out my interview in 5forFoley! I answered some questions about my early days as a juggler, friends and family, and more… ;-)
For people who may not yet be familiar with the early days of your career, please tell me how you got into juggling.
I was picked to be a volunteer in a street juggler’s show in Harvard Square outside Boston at the age of 10. That changed everything for me – the lights, the energy, the sound of the crowd. I wanted that feeling again! The next day, my parents bought me a book on juggling -“Juggling for the Complete Klutz” – to read on the long drive back home to Philadelphia. I became obsessed with juggling and practiced round the clock.
It wasn’t until I landed my first official paid gig (outside street performing) at age 16 at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that my love for performing, as opposed to juggling, really began to flourish. I quickly learned that people didn’t care how many objects I could juggle– they wanted to LAUGH! So I set about how I could best entertain an audience with personality using juggling purely as the medium. That has made all the difference.
Side note: 15 years after that moment in Harvard Square, I was reading a personal development book that encouraged taking time to thank people who have helped you along the way. I put the book down, Googled the street performer’s name, and found him immediately – www.peterpanic.com. I called him and explained who I was, what I do now, and how much him picking me out of the crowd that night changed my life. There was a pause, then tears. He cried a little. Then I cried a little. It was a magical moment. We still talk. I recently hooked him up with my old cruise ship agent.
How have your family and close friends reacted to your success.
I have been blessed with an amazingly supportive family and friends. I always hear these stories of comedians and other performers being cast out by their family, forgotten about, or even shunned. That’s just not me.
Most parents say ‘you gotta do what you love’ but in reality that means something more like ‘you gotta do what you love as long as that’s something I’ve heard of that fits into a pre-defined societal category that is proven to make you a lot of money.’ My parents actually meant it! They have always had the utmost trust in me that I will find my way in this wacky business. So far so good! It’s been a fun ride for sure.
I have 2 older brothers with whom I’m very tight. My oldest brother Gene is a neurobiologist, my older brother John is a dentist, and I’m the juggler. HA! We are all great friends, and most importantly have a real respect for what each of us does professionally.
I have a great group of friends from my alma mater Georgetown as well. We have a reunion every Spring in a different city we choose, in fact, that I just got back from (New Orleans). They are doctors, lawyers, MBAs… I can’t do what they do, and they can’t do what I do. Again, it’s a respect thing. The respect we have for each other is what binds us as we challenge each other to become better in our own fields.
I read that you once ran a marathon while juggling three balls for all 26.2 miles. That’s incredible! Tell me more about that accomplishment and the great cause you were helping.
Thanks! It was a good time… although I think once is enough for that little stunt! I ran for a team called Athletes for Special Kids in Tennessee that focused on doing some pretty crazy events to raise money for the charity “Special Kids.” I figured a lot of people run marathons and ask for donations. To really stand out, I had to put on a show! I was really killing it with a time that was going to be under 4 hours, until I “hit the wall” at mile 24. Not fun! I limped through the next 2 miles and was just happy to finish. If you want to get noticed around town (and honked at a lot), go joggling! Joggling = joggling + juggling.
In addition to being a full-time performer, I also fun a nonprofit called Win-Win Entertainment that matches performers with charity events. We have done 20+ events to date. I love it. It’s a different outlet for my passion than performing on stage, but it’s equality as fulfilling for sure. I founded Win-Win Entertainment in July 2011. Check out the work we’re doing at WinWinEntertainment.org
Please tell me more about your show, Comedy in Action, which you perform at The Linq Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. I’ve heard the show is amazing and your energy and entertaining skills are off the charts! Where can fans find you online?
The show is a high-energy blend of physical comedy, juggling, and audience participation. It’s great for all ages. And at 2 pm, it’s the perfect time to get out of the sun, or take a break from shopping / gambling, and recharge with a quick, affordable show. I’ve seen the show before, and it’s fantastic.