Standout juggler explores 3-D
The Republican
By Keith J. O'Connor
March 20, 2011

Mark Nizer, who will entertain audiences at CityStage in Springfield this weekend with his jaw-dropping, show-stopping juggling, never wanted to be "just a juggler."

"My show isn't just about juggling – it's all about humor and having a good time, too," said Nizer, who sometimes plans his next tricks during hang-gliding excursions.

"I always thought I was funny, and it was disturbing when my mom said she never considered me to be funny. But it would be boring if I just got up there and juggled for the audience," he said. "It's not all about thinking 'Look what I can do and you can't.' You have to be an entertainer, and I love making people laugh."

For the juggling – imagine four bright lasers being juggled at 1,000 revolutions per minute, with the spinning laser beams dancing just above the audience's heads.

He's also been known to launch a handful of ping pong balls some 20 feet into the air, then juggle them with his mouth. He makes music with computer gadgets that enable him to bounce a ball on his head and have the bounce register for the audience as a plink, a thud, a boink or some other sound effect programmed into the gizmo.


Event: "Mark Nizer 3-D"
When: Friday, 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.
Where: CityStage, Springfield
Cost: Evenings, $39.50 and $35. Matinee, $24
For more info: Call (413) 788-7033
Nizer also juggles the unlikely combination of a 16-pound bowling ball, a lit propane torch and a buzzing chain saw. And he's been known to add electric carving knives, after they've been turned on.

The performer's fancy feats of juggling are a combination of old ideas, new ideas, and updates of all-time popular juggling tricks with a modern-day twist.

"I'm really into juggling history and have read up and learned about all the old stuff and watched them done on film," Nizer said about his trunk-full of juggling tricks, many which hark back to the heyday of vaudeville.

"For example, when I juggle ping pong balls with my mouth, that was done years ago with grapes," he said.

"And while working at a store as a kid, where I used to stock the shelves, when I got all the stuff put away I would spend the day wondering what I could try to juggle next. We sold propane tanks and electric carving knives, and they seemed like a good thing to try, but we didn't sell bowling balls," he added about his popular 16-pound bowling ball, lit propane torch, buzzing chain saw and sometimes electric knife-juggling trick.

For the comedy, while juggling Nizer might tell a story: "My wife's last boyfriend was a mime, and every time when we're alone and she doesn't say anything, I know she's thinking about him. And when the phone rings and nobody's there, I know it's that mime guy calling again." Or sharing with his audience such information as: "By the way, these are brand new torches I'm using. The others were lost in the fire."

The entertainer, who grew up in Concord, has been thrilling audiences for more than 20 years, thanks partly to his mom, who enrolled him at age 13 into a local juggling class.

"I think my mom was sick of us running around the house and causing mayhem, so she decided to burn off some of that energy in us by enrolling my twin sister and I, as well as my brother, in six classes. In the first week, I became completed addicted and juggling just blew me away," said Nizer, who eventually took his skills and love for juggling to the next level.

Since hitting the big time, Nizer has been the opening act for scores of celebrities from Jerry Seinfeld to Johnny Mathis. He's also been the featured entertainer at events ranging from community theater presentations to galas held at such world-famous venues as Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. And he won the International Jugglers Association Championships and was honored in 1994 as Comedy Entertainer of the Year.

When Nizer arrives in Springfield on Tuesday, he will be bringing his newest show to town – Mark Nizer 3D.

"Sadly, I thought about using 3D before the whole television and movie craze that we're seeing now," he said. His original idea – which uses colors as a way to change a person's depth of field while watching the stage – combines interactive video with live performance bringing both out into the performance room.

Lasers jump out over the audience, so close that you'll think you can touch them. Two robots perform onstage, one live, one on video, yet both in 3D. Neon balls play live music while creating a unique 3D world that changes with each note.

"I encourage everyone to come to my shows. Even if you don't like juggling you will like my show. It's very different .¤.¤. truly a one-man .¤.¤. I run the lights, sound and video all from a little remote on my belt," said Nizer.

"And I have a brand new routine that I'll be doing in Springfield that I call 'dueling banjos' where me and a computer have a conflict," he added.

For those inspired by Nizer's antics to run right out and take juggling classes, Nizer's website offers many links to juggling enterprises ranging from classes to magazines to videos.

His website also shows visitors how to juggle and make their own juggling clubs. The free step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions can be found at


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