Juggler Throws Old-Fashioned Out the Window
by Mike Doyle
Published Feb 04 2011

Posted to: Entertainment Spotlight Suffolk

He’ll suspend gravity for a burning propane tank, a running electric carving knife and a 16-pound bowling ball while making wisecracks the whole time.

Juggler and comedian Mark Nizer has made a staggering commitment to his craft.

It has taken him from performing on the streets of New York to headlining his own one-man show at performance halls all over the country. He’ll bring his “New 3-D Show” to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts this Saturday.

“They say that to really be a master at something, it takes 10,000 hours of 'doing,’” said Nizer. “I have about 30,000 hours of juggling so far. But it never ends.

There’s a trick I do in my show called The Impossible Trick, where I spin a ball on my right finger, then I have another ball balanced on my foot and I throw it up to my head. I balance it on my forehead and roll it down to the back of my neck. Then I roll it down my back, and it hits my heel and gets kicked up over top and lands on the ball spinning on my finger, and they spin together. I worked on that trick every day for seven years before I got it once in practice." Mark was inspired to learn this trick by the late Francis Brunn.

As if" The Impossible Trick" weren’t difficult enough, Nizer’s show also incorporates the juggling of electric carving knives, flaming propane tanks (a skill he developed while working in a hardware store in high school), and insane amounts of ping-pong balls juggled using only his mouth. Nizer knows it takes more than juggling to keep people engaged.

“On occasion, I judge the national juggling championships,” he said, “and frankly it can be very boring after about 5 minutes of seeing people do all these crazy things. But when you add some comedy and interaction and personality to it, it becomes something else. Juggling is the vehicle, but it’s really about having fun with the audience and being funny. The juggling is almost secondary to that relationship.”

Nizer’s passion for juggling began at age 12.

“It just set my brain on fire. It just turns on a part of your brain that you normally never use.”

But Nizer wasn’t a natural. It took lots of practice and effort. As he got better at juggling, he realized what kept him going.

“I’m addicted to the feeling of learning something new. When you learn a new juggling trick, all this stuff goes off in your head, and you’re just blown away at what’s happening. I’ve been doing this for 38 years, yet I can go to a juggling club and be a student. There’s always a trick that I haven’t learned yet, always a new way of doing something or looking at it in a certain way that is new. You’re really only good at what you know.”

Nizer’s audience is bound to be torn by conflicting emotions.

“There’s roaring laughter at times, but when I’m on a 7-foot unicycle, juggling knives and apples, and trying to eat the apple, there’s some tension. There’s always that question of 'Is this going to happen?’ and that’s what makes it exciting.”

Mike Doyle, reverymike@gmail.com

What Comedian/juggler Mark Nizer will present his 3-D juggling showcase
Where Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave.
When 2 p.m. Saturday
Tickets $15 for adults, $7 for students
Contacts Call 923-2900 or visit www.suffolkcenter.org



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