As none of you know, I've been a professional juggler since I was around 13. It started with me performing at parades, libraries and birthday parties. Then a few years later, I started performing at sporting events, colleges, and cruise ships. A few years after that I was headlining comedy clubs, on reality shows, performing with Neil Patrick Harris, and having my own one man show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. However, getting to this point in my career hasn't been easy. I've had strange interactions with fans, painful gigs, and a few hiccups along the way.
In 2009 I got booked for a month on a very popular cruise ship going to the Caribbean. It was my longest contract ever on cruise ship, but I desperately needed the work. After one show, I was in the lobby saying hello to the people who came to my show and answering those basic questions everyone seems to ask like,"when did you start juggling?" and "what do your parents think?" First of all, I started when I was nine and yes, my parents are cool with it. It's not like I'm selling crack under an overpass. Anyways, this 70 year-old lady came up to me and she told me she enjoyed my show then said,"I have to tell you, I have a friend who juggled, but he died young". Then she stared at me with a blank look on her face. The lobby was still crowded as people where leaving the theater and waiting to talk to me. I looked at this lady and said the most cringe worthy sentence that's ever come out of my mouth."Well..." I said to her with a straight face, "that's less competition for me then". She walked away just as puzzled and confused as I was. Never saw her again.
When you juggle for a living, there are very few gigs you turn down. Turning down a gig for whatever reason could mean your arch nemesis gets the gig and no one wants that. I got a call to perform at what I was told was a Game of Thrones themed wedding for some rich people in the Hamptons. I went to the costume shop before the gig and bought the most Game of Thronesey outfit I could find. To be honest though, I just looked like an off-duty knight with Beatles hair. I put on the outfit and my wife and I drove to the gig. As I pulled up to the mansion where the reception was being held, I saw the other guests entering the venue in regular tuxedos. I put my pride aside and walked in. There I was welcomed by the event planner who informed me that it was actually not a Game of Thrones themed wedding; the couple who got married just wanted the juggler to look like he's from the Game of Thrones. I did my show, got paid, and burned that costume.
I got booked on a cruise ship for what was supposed to be only three nights. I was to fly from New York City to Grand Turk, a small island in the Turks and Caicos Islands, get on a ship that night and do my show, then stay on two nights until the ship docks in Florida and fly back to New York. That morning, I took two flights to Turks and Caicos then a small puddle jumper plane in a terrible storm to Grand Turk. The terrible storm was due to Hurricane Irene that was less than a day from direct impact. I landed in Grand Turk and my phone rang, it was the cruise ship. I could see it docked less than a mile away. "Hurry to the ship!" the voice on the phone said in broken English. "We are sailing early due to the hurricane."I got my bags and rushed to a taxi, but it was too late. The ship didn't want to wait for me, it could have, but it didn't want to. I was stranded in Grand Turk as Hurricane Irene was getting closer.
I rushed back to the airport and bought a ticket on that same puddle jumper back to the main island of Turks and Caicos. I landed and ran to the American Airlines counter, "I'll go anywhere away from the hurricane!"I told them as I slammed my credit card on the counter."The airport is closed, please exit the airport immediately." I took my 3 large suitcases full of juggling props to the nearest hotel and got a room. I turned on the TV and saw that the storm headed for Grand Turk was now heading straight to me. Outside, I could see boards being nailed to the windows and emergency sirens started to ring. "Fuck me." That night I couldn't sleep, the sound of the island getting destroyed by a hurricane kept me up and the fact that at any minute I thought the ceiling of the hotel could fly off. The constant pounding of tree branches and probably dogs hitting the walls of the hotel shook the entire room. When the wind died down early that morning I ventured out of my room and saw terrible flooding, power lines down, and debris everywhere. I stayed at this hotel for three nights without any power, running water, and the only thing I had to eat at my disposal was the food I had bought at the airports. Days later I flew back to New York City, never wanting to go back to that hotel.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, I have also performed on a cruise for nudists, at a strip club in-between strippers, at a gathering of Hasidic Jews, at a nursing home/hospice, and a little people convention. Then there was that time I cut my arm open with a running chainsaw during a sold out show and had to be rushed to the emergency room. Oh! And also that time I broke both of my feet at the exact same time after jumping down from a 12-foot unicycle. Unfortunately, I have to wrap this up but if you want to hear more about how crazy my life is come see it first hand. Who knows? I may just break something.
The Rise and Fall of Marcus Monroe is playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 3rd-27th August at Assembly George Square Gardens at 3pm. For tickets see www.assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/the-rise-and-fall-of-marcus-monroe
Suitable for ages 12+.
For more information check out Marcus Monroe's website: www.marcusmonroe.com