Page 19                                             Winter 1986

Ask the Professional

by Frank Oliver


Dear Professional,

How long should you date a woman before you tell her you juggle?

In Love

Dear In,

   Anytime, but never tell her what you juggle!


Dear Professional,

One of the biggest problems I have is one of performing under bright spot lights, or other bright stage lighting. Is there a trick to it?


Dear Blinded,

It can be difficult, but there are things you can do to minimize these difficulties: 1) Don't blind yourself by looking into the lights. Many new performers get on stage and stare into the lights because they are so bright. 2) While juggling choose a dark spot on the ceiling or back wall as your point of focus. Don't stare into the lights. 3) Request side and/or back lighting when first arranging to do the show. This can be part of a requirements sheet attached to the contract. Have a rehearsal at which you check the lighting. Remember, you don't check the lights by staring into them. 4) Some performers carry their own small side lights to set up in the wings. If you do set up side lights be sure not to stare into them. 5) Bring along sunglasses. With a good pair of sunglasses you can stare right into the lights.


Dear Pro,

Several friends and myself felt that your column name itself was a bit pretentious... My question: What makes you call yourself a professional?



Dear Skeptical,

People often ask me that, and I feel the mere fact that people like you are coming to me with questions like yours, qualifies me as a professional.


Dear Professional,

I understand that Ben Decker out of San Diego is performing the neck catch with a bowling ball, how does he do it?



Dear Amazed,

I don't feel qualified to answer that but I'm sure his orthopedic surgeon would be glad to answer your questions.


Dear Professional,

Four of us are just starting to learn club passing formations but often have problems in a number of areas. We are too poor to attend the conventions and learn it right.

The Juggling Farm Hands


Dear Hands,

Here's some tips: 1) Elect one person leader, preferably someone who can juggle and who everyone in the pattern can see, and it becomes each jugglers responsibility to keep their timing matched with his/her lead. 2) Space yourselves properly and adjust each others positioning. Many patterns don't work simply because of improper spacing. 3) Before starting to pass, or after a number of frustrating drops, it can be very helpful to all juggle in time (or in sync) with each other, without passing, staying together by listening to the sound of everyone juggling and adjusting to match the leader. 4) Concentrate only on your own throws. It sounds silly but if everyone does it it can make a pattern work. The overall rule is "there are no bad catches... only bad throws" 5) When all else fails blame someone else. Alas... there is no simple cure for the age old problem of "too many people and not enough talent."


Dear Professional,

One of the most embarrassing things is to drop in front of other jugglers. Do you have any funny quips to use for this awkward situation?



Dear Embarrassed,

More important than a funny quip is a good believable excuse. Some excuses fit a large number of difficulties: "These aren't my clubs, I can do it fine with my clubs" (This of course can be adapted to whatever you are juggling.) Overall I prefer customized excuses to the individual situation. "These are new clubs and the handles are slippery." "I can't

do kickups in these shoes." For headrolls or headspins "I just got a haircut."


Rest assured, with a little creativity there's never any reason to take the blame yourself for your own inadequacies.

(Frank Olivier is a professional comedian and juggler from Berkeley, California)

(Frank Olivier is a professional comedian and juggler from Berkeley, California)

<--- Previous Page

Return to Main Index

Next Page --->