Mark Nizer has artistically combined the world of juggling, comedy, and technology to create his 4D Theater performances. Nizer will perform at the Honeywell Center on Jan. 23.
Nizer learned to juggle when he was a young child. His mom thought it would be an outlet for her kids’ excess energy, and it ended up sticking for Nizer.
“It worked out pretty well for me,” Nizer said in a recent phone interview with Whatzup. “I ended up really loving it and the feeling and adrenaline rush of learning something new, along with the brain challenge of it all.”
After extensive practice, Nizer started competing and street performing. The street performances helped him understand comedy better.
“Getting a laugh is as great a rush as learning some impossible juggling trick,” Nizer said.
Always Be Marketing
Mentors played a large part in the growth of Nizer’s juggling career.
His mentors over the years included Bob Hope and George Burns who taught him how to write his own material and find his own voice, along with marketing himself and his act.
Nizer said the job requires relentless marketing.
“They put me in places where I got a lot of good exposure, which really helped me expand where I could work,” Nizer said. “Then, it sort of snowballed. I started doing stand-up comedy in New York City, and each little piece helped raise the show up a little more.”
Nizer works daily to better himself and his act. Every day he writes new material and practices his juggling skills.
“I try to keep my brain going and challenge myself,” Nizer said. “Juggling wise, I usually practice about two hours a day for a couple reasons. One, to maintain my skill, but two, to learn new things, even though I may never use them in the show.”
Each show, he tries to incorporate at least one new joke.
Fans approached Nizer following a gig one night and expressed they did not realize he was a stand-up comedian as well. For him, this was a great compliment.
“It’s there to support the show, but it really is becoming what the show really is – laughing,” Nizer said. “Look what I can do and you can’t only takes you so far.”
He still enjoys the learning and the creativity that juggling has always allowed him to explore.
“I still have the feeling of that 12-year-old boy that learned to juggle in my 58-year-old frame,” Nizer said. “It’s nice I’m not burned out yet.”
Technical and interactive
Technology and the internet have helped in expanding what’s possible for juggling.
A routine that includes a simple juggling act can now include laser manipulation, lights triggered by movements of the objects, cell phones firing with them, and fog machines.
“All of these little pieces of the dance come together to make it more of a visual eye candy,” Nizer said.
On this tour, Nizer has introduced a cell phone takeover. He encourages everyone to bring their cell phones, as they are important lighting instruments.
“The whole theater becomes part of the show,” Nizer said. “I really think it’s neat that it encompasses the entire venue.”
While he used to be focused on pushing highly technical juggling routines where he felt no one knew what was going on, Nizer said it’s no longer about that for him.
He enjoys tricks that are interactive with the audience.
“It’s about when a great audience is there and we’re having this amazing connection and the jokes are working,” Nizer said. “It just becomes a really beautiful live performance moment. That’s what I live for now. That is the payoff.”
Juggling still the focus
Juggling remains the basis of his acts, though. One of Nizer’s favorite juggling tricks is called the impossible trick, although he thinks it’s fairly simple.
“The impossible trick is where I kick a ball off my back heel and it comes over my head and lands on top of a ball spinning on my right finger, and then they both spin together,” Nizer said. “That’s a great trick to pull off.”
Fitness is also a foundational element of his routines. Nizer said one of his biggest challenges has been keeping his body in shape.
In order to keep in shape, Nizer has turned to his wife’s yoga teachings. He said the stretching has changed his life, and he’s now in the best shape he’s ever been in, but it was a big change.
“I take a class with 90-year-old women who kick my butt,” Nizer said. “I really encourage men to get out there and start stretching.”
There is no stopping Nizer – he said he will keep performing until the day he drops dead. His performances might change, however.
“We’re going to keep performing, but maybe go to places that are less fortunate and try to teach some,” Nizer said. “I certainly want to keep exploring and try to help other people play with their toys. I think everybody needs to put the phone down and go outside and explore gravity a little more.”
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