robotsJuggler wows a sold-out crowd

Martinsville Bulletin
By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Staff Writer
Monday, February 25, 2008

The 25 people turned away at the door of the packed Mark Nizer show Saturday night must be wishing they had gotten there earlier to get into those sold-out seats.

Inside the Walker Auditorium at Patrick Henry Community College, the capacity crowd of 320-plus was rolling in laughter in between their ooohs and aaaahs of awe. Nizer maintained a peppy comedy routine while he performed a variety of tricks.

Nizer is a “professional juggler. Those are two words you don’t hear together too often,” he quipped.

His juggling was a fluid dance with objects which rose and fell in the air and twirled and swirled around him.

It was not just his hands that kept things going. He could catch a ball on his forehead and move his head so it would roll from ear to ear. He could catch a ball on his neck, and it would roll down his back, down his leg and be flipped back up by his foot.
Nizer maintained a continual banter with the audience. He invited some of them to come on stage to help him with tricks.
First were Gary Thompson of Ridgeway and Tony Gray of Moneta, who helped him get on a unicycle that was almost as tall as they were. He flopped around wildly on it between them.

“I was extremely nervous,” Gray admitted later.

While riding on the unicycle, Nizer juggled two machetes and an apple. Each time he caught the apple, he took a bite out of it — in between catching and throwing the machetes.

William Hatchett, the son of Robert and Monica Hatchett of Martinsville, also was called to the stage.

As he walked toward the stairs, Nizer told him to forget the stairs and just hop up on the stage. Once there, though, Nizer said maybe he had better not do that, for liability purposes. He picked William up and tossed the 10-year-old off the stage, telling him to take the stairs instead.Unfazed, William sauntered on to center stage. Following orders, he held out both arms and one leg. He ended up with spinning discs around an outstretched arm and a bent leg, and a spinning ball on his fingertip.

In another segment, the lights went out. Techno music sounded while a computer-screen scene filled the backdrop of the stage. Nizer appeared as a neon stick figure, the rest of him unseen in the dark. He juggled neon balls.

When lights were on again, he juggled four clubs. “Four clubs, two hands one, stud — yeah,” he announced saucily. Then he asked, “why are you laughing?”

He brought out his own invention, laser diablos. They resembled huge yoyos he controlled with detached strings that could toss them about. The lights went out again and a fog machine came on. The red lights of the yoyos created circles that danced wildly around the auditorium.

When he showed he was about to juggle a lit propane torch, a bowling ball and an automatic carving knife, he said to the front row, “Those good seats don’t seem so good now, do they?”

First, though, he called up the Greene family of Raleigh, N.C., from the audience. “Before I risk my life, three things I want you to remember: 9-1-1,” he said. Then the Greene children turned around in a row, revealing T-shirts that each had a different word. Put together, the shirts repeated Nizer’s 911 message.

Nizer, of Charlottesville, has been juggling for 30 years. One of his performances was to the sequestered jury at the O.J. Simpson trial in 1994. “I’m expecting a second booking in Las Vegas,” he joked.

After the show, Julie Greene of Raleigh explained, “my husband is a great fan of his. This is our fourth time coming.” She said that it was well worth the drive for the 12 people in the group.

“I had a good time,” Gary Thompson, who just turned 40, said after the show. While Thompson and Gray were on stage, Tony Gray’s seatmate from the audience hollered up to Nizer that it was Gray’s birthday.

The show was “one of the more exciting things I’ve been to in Martinsville,” Thompson added.

William said after the show that he wanted “to volunteer, but I didn’t know what trick he was going to do. It was kind of weird” to stand on one leg in that awkward pose, and “it really did hurt my arm when they (the discs) were spinning,” he said. However, it was great fun being on stage, he added.

The show was sponsored by Piedmont Arts and Patrick Henry Community College. Drew Parker ran the spotlight. “It was a neat experience,” he said. He was given cues during the show to coordinate the lighting with the mood and action.

The performance “was crazy awesome pyscho,” raved 15-year-old William Adams, son of Robert and Lisa Adams of Charlottesville. He liked the lasers and fire best, and thought the comedy was “better than funny,” he said.

nizer signs autographs

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