Form 1: Narration
I’ve watched a lot, A LOT, of comedy juggling. I’ve seen a fair bit live, more than my share of promo d.v.ds, and most of the videos on YouTube tagged “comedy juggling”. All of that “research” taught me two things: that Chris Ruggerio is way too positive and that there are two fundamental forms that almost all comedy juggling follows.
The two fundamental and foundation forms of comedy juggling are:
Narration & Exposition
Today the blog will be covering Form 1: Narration.
A juggling routine or trick performed while simultaneously delivering jokes*
*Often these jokes are about the prop or the tricks you are currently performing but not always.
For an example of this form in action watch this! From :30-3:35.
This is the form most commonly used by comedy jugglers. Partially because it is easy but mostly because it highlights all the things that separate Comedy Juggling from other disciplines. Hey! Look at me tell jokes while doing this difficult thing! It instantly makes it clear that this is comedy AND juggling. It is also the easiest form for a newer comedy juggler to adopt. You can take a pure juggling routine and add some jokes over top of it and VOILA you’re a comedy juggler.
Most of the jokes jugglers tend to make in this form are from their perpesctive and are about what is happening now. It’s like the juggler is narrating to the audience what is happening. An expert guiding the people through a jungle of siteswaps and subtle details.
This form is perfect for entertaining international audiences. The people who don’t understand you can (hopefully) be entertained by just the juggling and those who don’t like juggling (most everyone) will be entertained by the jokes.
It is also great way to fill the space verbally and physically. If you only have 4 minutes or 90 seconds to perform then this is the perfect way to fit as much as possible into the time you have.
One of the weaknesses of the form is that is reinforces the comedy juggling tendency to engage in “talking while juggling”. Maybe you have a great joke for your 3 ball cascade and then you have some tricks that you don’t have a great joke for and THEN you have a great joke for your 3 ball in one hand juggle. Because that silence between jokes while you are still juggling is awkward most jugglers will just fill in the gaps with un-funny text. The names of tricks or exhalations. This waters down the routine by spacing out the laughs and you would be better off cutting the tricks you don’t have jokes for. Or just let the juggling speak for itself.
But Wait! There’s more…
Though this is the primary way jugglers build their comedy routines it is vastly under-explored and it most certainly can be improved on. Most comedy jugglers stick to 1st Person Narrative and limit their jokes to the juggling they are doing or to the reaction of the audience. There is also 2nd Person and 3rd Person narratives available but few jugglers ever go that direction. Here are two examples of The Narrative Form using the different narrative perspectives.
Twice As Nice
This is a idea to use Form 1 and additional narrators to create a different kind of juggling routine. To start, the comedy juggler performs a simple routine accompanied by some jokes. It is from her perspective about the tricks she is doing. She finishes the routine and then starts it again exactly the same except this time the narration changes from her perspective to the perspective of an audience member and each joke from the 1st version of the routine is matched with a joke from the second perspective.
For this one you pre-record a nature documentary style commentary about the juggling you are doing. This one is interesting because typically in a nature documentary the narrator is omnipresent and knows everything that is going to happen allowing you to have some fun with revealations and foreshadowing. Additionally this form lets a solo comedy juggler have conflict in the show without having to climb on a voulnteer or have an “argument” with the light or sound tech.
Comedy Juggling has two foundational forms. The 1st of which is called the Narrative Form or Form 1
The Narrative Form is when a comedy juggler’s jokes and tricks happen simultaneously and are often interrelated.
The primary narrative voice for Form 1 is 1st person and the other narrative voices are under utilized by comedy jugglers.
Experiment with the routines you have that fit this form by trying either Twice As Nice or The Attenborough or by changing from 1st person to 2nd or 3rd.
To see this form at it’s apex watchthis.
To read about Form 2 click Here.