Campus Activites Today Magazine Article

nizer head cone"He is a genius in his trade, and worked the audience like a pro."
-WC Kirby, Campus Activities Today Magazine

"Mark Nizer is the man everyone recognizes as the comedy juggler on America's Campuses. All you need to do is speak to him to understand why he has such an amazing stage presence."
WC Kirby, Campus Activities Today Magazine


Even though I have known Mark Nizer for years I have to confess I have never seen his show. Not his whole show anyway.I have seen him showcase many times but those are only snipits and not a ture tests of an artist ability. I mean how much can a entertainer, a real entertainer, connect in 15-20 minutes. So when Mark whose chosen to participate in the first annual Rock n' Road show I was excited to finally get to see him perform an entire show. He was impressive, especially performing under some unusual conditions.

As you all know by now, Mark was scheduled for the mainstage performance of the second day of the show. Because a blizzard had besieged Roanoke and surrounding areas, the whole first day of the show had been cancelled because the performers could not reach the campus...hell, they couldn't get within a hundred miles of the city The second day of the show had gone on under a light snow and frigid temperatures. The audience attendance was small due to the fact the first day had been cancelled and exams were the next week. But the real test of any performer is to get those in attendance psyched. Mark did just that.

The show was held in an old gym that Mark Petersen's staff had done an excellent job of rigging to staging, sound and lights. Regulating the heat in all parts of the building became something of a concern, so windows were opened on stage left which had to have some effect on Mark's performance because we were sitting between the windows and the stage and the temperature was quite cold. Perhaps because he was so animated the temperature change seemed to have little bearing on his performance. But towards the end of the show, when his juggling bits became more intricate and energy charged, the stage began to creak. The staging was set in sections and only a few sections were the culprits but they seemed the be toward the center where most of the activity was performed. One can't help but think that the cold weather conditions had to have played a part in the shrinking of the wood panels as well as the chatter of the metal supports.

With all that said, the show was arnazing. Mark involved the audience and made them feel they were an integral part of the show. The juggling was superb.

mark nizer standingMARK NIZER THE JUGGLER GUY

Mark grew up in Concord, Massachusetts and learned to juggle when he was twelve. Amazingly, his first introduction to the art was in an adult education class. He hung out with students at MIT where he perfected his art and began doing standup at the Boston Comedy Club.

Mark went to college at The University of New Hampshire where he became friends with one of his professors. "He had always wanted to be a street performer, so he and I went to Boulder Colorado the summer of my sophmore year and performed at the legendary Pearl Street Mall, which is in the center of the city. We were terrible but it was great.

After that first surnmer, Mark transferred to San Diego State so he could street perform every weekend. His performing continued for the remainder of his time in school and he ended up with degrees in Psychology and Zoology minor. "I got the degrees because the classes interested me. But I was street performing every weekend, practicing six or seven hours everyday. It was all I thought about - all I wanted to do!"

Mark also continued doing stand-up in San Diego to keep his comedy strong and his wit sharpened.

"I got a gig with a review show that lasted five years. I really liked that experience because you were forced to perfect what you did. The problem was that even though I got very good, very tight and very strong, I did lose my long show. My performance tirne there was 12 1/2 minutes."

One of the people he met in the review show was his wife. "After five years, she was sick of the whole thing and wanted to move back to New York City. So I quit and moved back to the city and once again started street performing and working comeciy clubs."

It was about this time that Mark was discovered by Dan and Gerri Abrahamsen of DCA Productions', who became his agent and friends. "They saw me at the worst college in America (which will go unnamed). If you performed there and weren't murdered and allowed to finish your act, you were some kind of super star. Someone I knew invited them to see me there and I was able to finish the show. We hooked up and started the college thing together and the rest is history."

That was fifteen years ago To this day, Mark will tell you that colleges are his favorite audiences. "Street performing prepared me for the college market. When you perform on the street you're out there in the crowd and vou have to be able to relate to the audience. Even more important than standup you have to be able to hold them. Doing standup at a club, the audience is fixed. On the street, they can walk awav at any time. How good you are not only with your skill but your comedy and working the audience determine how good you really are. When I was in San Diego, I had to work clean because there were families there and that was nice. When I performed on the streets of New York it was the complete oposite. You could end up with a show that was nasty if you didn't have an act. Luckily I learned my act elsewhere before coming to New York.


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