“How Many Pins Can You Juggle?” 

People who don’t juggle call juggling clubs “pins”. Besides humming “Enter the Gladiators” or calling us clowns it’s the thing that bothers jugglers most. It’s understandable that it bothers us, we know that they are called clubs. That is their name, yet, the layperson continues to call them pins. That’s because they look like bowling pins. So they persist in calling them pins and we persist in correcting them and calling them clubs. Why? 

There is already a disconnect between what a juggler knows and understands and what an audience knows and understands about juggling. We’ve all talked about how an audience can’t tell the difference between 5 and 7 objects. We all know that your cool three ball trick is lost on the average muggler (or No-Jug for the American readers). We’ve all taken steps in our shows to make sure that the presentation is built in such a way to be accessible to our audience. Why not take it a step further and just call them pins? 

We are already asking our audience to take in a lot of information as comedy jugglers. Juggling is a separate thing from the rest of people’s lives. It’s strange movements AND objects are being manipulated in a non-rational ways AND we are asking them to listen to our jokes AND we are asking them to accept our puffy pants, three piece suits, and converse. It’s too much. Some jugglers combat this by wearing contemporary clothing and juggling everyday objects. By doing that you are removing two of the barriers that an audience must work through to appreciate and enjoy the show. 

Calling them pins is an easy way to add relatability to the show without changing anything. By calling them pins you get a free association. The mugglers will associate them with bowling pins (which they already do) and because people have some concept of what a bowling pin is, they will appreciate it more. You call them pins and you still get to juggle with a balanced professionally made prop and they appreciate it more. It’s win win for everyone. 

Save the word “club” for depositions and baby seals. 

10 thoughts on ““How Many Pins Can You Juggle?” 

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  1. Similarly, a lot of magicians call those cloth things they use silks instead of handkerchiefs. Although I don’t speak in my show so there isn’t opportunity to mention clubs or pins, when I talk to prospective customers here in Israel, I use the Hebrew word for bottles, since most people seem to understand that.

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  2. You are so right Thomas. I always try to use what’s already in the audience’s mind…yet I still call them clubs. Never again!

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  3. There is the same in french with “Quille” instead of “Massue”. Depending of the interlocutor I will use one or the other with no problem.
    And it’s a bit the same with table tennis (tennis de table in french). I remember 40 years ago, only the non-players were saying ping pong and it was a little pejorative exactly as pins for clubs. A few years after this term was fashionable and had in part replaced table tennis, especially in its short form ping. And after that the fahionable term become T.T.

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