Everyone has bad days at work. But if you’re Tuey Wilson, that can include bouncing your skull off the ground.
“I was in my brother’s backyard, balancing on top of a free-standing ladder, and I fell sideways and knocked my head on the ground pretty good.”
Such is the life of a professional comic-stunt-juggler.
Wilson, a professional juggler for nearly 40 years, has put his talents to use at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, cruise ships, music festivals, and pretty much anywhere you can find a crowd. This week, he’s one of the featured performers at Vaudeville Remix, a comedy, variety, music, and talk show hosted bi-monthly by comedian David Harris at Brave New Workshop.
The show is unique in that each guest performs a set, and then chats with Harris in a late-night talk-show type format. This week’s guests include Wilson, comedian Mary Jo Pehl of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame, and musical guest Symone Smash It.
A life-long Minnesotan, Wilson initially learned to juggle from his older brother. But it was a trip to the Renaissance Festival during his senior year of high school that set him on his unique career path.
“People told me I should go see the jugglers and performers at the festival and I thought it was great,” he recalls. “At that point I didn’t really have any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I mean, I thought about college, but I didn’t know what I’d study or anything like that. So once I saw the jugglers at the festival, I just thought maybe I could do that with my life.”
The next year, Wilson auditioned for Ren Fest, and he’s been bringing his skills to the event ever since.
While the title “comic-stunt-juggler” makes most people think of loud, larger-than-life personalities just begging to be the center of attention, Wilson says his personality has always been quite the opposite.
“I was always very introverted,” he explains. “The first time my family came to see me at the Renaissance Festival they couldn’t believe I was out there shouting and getting people to come watch me perform.”
Over the years, Wilson has grown his act to include even more stunts and props, including tightropes, ladders, balls, mouthsticks, and flaming torches. Somehow, he’s managed to escape with minimal injuries, while grabbing the attention of audiences all over the country.
“I get invited to juggling festivals as the featured performer, and during the summers I do a lot of different county fairs and music festivals.”
While he hasn’t quite finalized plans for his performance this Saturday at Vaudeville Remix, Wilson says he approaches every show by looking at the amount of time and space allotted, and then fitting the tricks to the setting.
“Every show is a little different, but I like to make sure I give people something unique and cater to my audience,” he says. “For example, the room is smaller [at BNW], so I probably can’t balance on a ladder.”
Does that mean the chance of seeing him fall on his head is out of the question?
“Well, maybe I can. We’ll see,” he laughs.
IF YOU GO:
Brave New Workshop, ETC Theatre
8:30 p.m. March 10
Click here for tickets
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