(Another response to the club vs. pins debate. Another Pro-Club response from juggling historian David Cain. I vote we call the Pro-Club people ClubFeet and the Pro-Pin people PinHeads.)
Nope. Just can’t do it.
By David Cain
It really doesn’t matter to the audience for the most part, but I personally don’t like supporting the idea that jugglers use bowling pins. When audience members pick up one of my clubs, they often will comment that they thought that they were much heavier, which then occasionally turns in to comments along the line of “Well that’s not nearly as hard as I thought.” I understand this to a point, because if I saw someone running backcrosses with five real bowling pins, I’d be mighty impressed. I just feel that supporting the common notion that jugglers use bowling pins has several negative side effects and no positive ones. In fact, I go out of my way in my show to explain that what I’m about to juggle are not bowling pins or some kind of small bat, but that they are juggling clubs, made specifically for juggling.
Calling them pins supports the notion that we are using bowling pins. If we want what we do to be taken seriously, even as comedy jugglers, we shouldn’t make it seem as though we have to use something designed for a totally different purpose than juggling. It also runs into the reason I already stated about people thinking that we’re cheating somehow when they feel them.
I do have a funny story about the whole idea. I had someone visit my house last year who didn’t know I juggled. She looked at my giant wall of clubs and then said, “Wow, you must really be into bowling!” Ugh.
Again, I want juggling to be taken seriously as an art form, hobby, athletic endeavor, and everything in between. As a result, there are certain notions about juggling that I want to dispel, or at the very least, not support. Jugglers using bowling pins and all being clowns are the top two things on that list.
Secondly, being a juggling historian and museum curator, especially one that specializes in the history of props, I feel that taking just a short opportunity here and there in my show to educate the audience, even while making them laugh, about juggling history is worth the effort. I may be the only professional juggler many of them ever see in person, so I want to be a good ambassador of juggling while I have the opportunity. If the audience can spend an hour being entertained and can come out also knowing a little more about juggling than they did when they got there, then I say that’s a good thing. That’s why I go out of my way, ever so briefly, to explain to my audience what juggling clubs are.