CCHS alum juggles his way to a successful life as a performer
By Patrick Ball/Staff Writer

In the past year or so, Mark Nizer has performed at the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe, before the King of Thailand and in Kuwait. Just last week, he had a gig in London. A low-key show Friday night at a firehouse in Framingham, though, will give the comedian/juggler something none of the others could: a chance to show his friends what the dorky kid from Concord has become.

“It’s neat to show people the journey I have been on,” said Nizer, a world-renowned juggler who changed his stage name from Neisser in the interest of accurate pronunciation. “I’ve never been to a high school reunion or anything. I like to catch up with people and show them the change.”

With his performance Friday at the Amazing Firehouse Arts Center in Framingham, Nizer, who now lives in Charlottesville, Va., will be making a rare appearance in the Concord area. His mother, Joan Neisser, said she and some friends and neighbors plan on carpooling to the show.

“He’s done very well, really,” Joan Neisser said. “I always say, ‘It’s not something that you think your son’s going to be.’ But he’s done very well.”

Said Nizer: “I’ve been very lucky to have had a kid’s dream come through. Every time I’m on stage, I think about how lucky I am to be doing something that I love. … My greatest dreams were exceeded after I learned to juggle.”

A 1979 graduate of Concord-Carlisle High School, Nizer began juggling in high school, winning a few talent shows, and continued juggling at the University of New Hampshire, where crowds passing the hat put spending money in his pockets. Before long, he was doing stand-up comedy in clubs and graduating to street performances at San Diego’s Balboa Park.

“It transformed a scared child juggling into a comedian interacting with the audience and using juggling as a tool,” Nizer said. “Juggling is certainly a big part of it, but it’s not the most important part of it. That makes it interesting, but humor, and sharing your personality with people is what it’s all about.”

Nizer will be in a robot suit he built during the performance Friday, which will also include juggling lasers, and things with propane, as well as stand-up and comedic mind-reading, a trick Nizer has never tried before and can’t explain “because I don’t want to give it away before the show.”

He would say, however, that he expects there will be “a lot of side-tracking and tangents, where I’m going to be flying off the handle.

“All these people who know me as, whatever they thought of me, will get a chance to see me. The crazy things I used t do, I am now doing for a living,” Nizer said.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Nizer has won international acclaim and numerous awards. He names comedian Jerry Seinfeld a big influence, and says Bob Hope helped him get into touring and juggling legend Francis Brunn inspired a lot of his tricks.

Nizer has juggled underwater with sharks, and airborne in a hang-glider. He has juggled jellyfish, knives and bean-bag chairs.
“I did cats once, but felt bad about it,” Nizer said. “That wasn’t in the show.”

Credited with inventing the Laser Diablo, Nizer is considered an innovator of juggling tricks and technology.

“I’ll just try to do anything,” he said. “I’m just going to keep an open mind. I don’t want to end up limiting my creativity. Like, I do stuff with toilet paper. Who would have ever imagined juggling with toilet paper?”

Mark Nizer will perform Friday, Sept. 5, at 8 p.m. at the Amazing Firehouse Arts Center, 160 Hollis St., Framingham. Tickets are $18, $17 for students and seniors. For more information call 508-405-2787 or visit the Web site.

The Concord Journal - Sept 2008

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