On the Juggler's Mentality

I recently awoke from a pleasant night of sleep with a thought lodged in my noggin. It was one of those concepts that you end up pondering for many hours to come. During the quiet moments in a hectic schedule, you return to the topic.

“There is a fundamental difference in the mentality of a juggler and a magician.”

My mind mulled this idea around for a couple days. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The thought was triggered by a question that magicians constantly ask - What is the intended effect?
I’ve been juggling for about 20 years and began my performing career as a juggler. I’m fluent in Balls, Clubs, Rings, Diabolo, Cigar Boxes and Yoyo. I could throw tricks and talk shop with the best of them. Now, I’m far from the best juggler on the planet. I rarely practice anymore, but I still enjoy juggling any chance I get. In fact, I juggle briefly in my stage mentalism show.

Here is what I found when I asked the ‘Juggler’ side of me - What is the intended effect? Jugglers seek to WOW their audience with their dexterous skill. Everything about their performance says, “Watch this! This is going to be awesome!” The performance revolves around their skills.

“Watch and be amazed as I balance this flaming chair on my chin while juggling these five razor sharp machetes and walk this slackline on my six-foot-unicycle with one foot and play Mambo#5 on this accordion...backwards!”

Don’t get me wrong - That’s really impressive, but what does it mean? It means, “That guy spent a massive amount of time working on that 30 second trick.” That’s what it means to the audience.
Of course, if it is presented correctly, there is (potentially) a great amount of entertainment value in that trick. There can be bits of comedy, danger and drama built into it, but in the end, it’s all about the juggler and his abilities. The audience walks away saying, “I couldn’t do that. That guy was good. He must have great balance.”
I think that most jugglers would answer the question - How do you want your audience to feel after your show? - with “Entertained.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that answer. Jugglers and Magicians alike are paid to entertain. Their clients hire them to add entertainment value to events. Some of the best entertainers in the world are jugglers. They consistently bring in standing ovations with their shows. I have a healthy respect for jugglers and their artform, but I have chosen a different path.

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