Back in 2003, “Icecold” made a post to rec.juggling in regards to a “an essay on statistics for some school work”. As far as I know, he did nothing with the results, but one of the questions caught my eye:
- Please state your top 10 favourite jugglers in order.
I counted up the names, disregarding the order, and made a rough list of the top 40 jugglers. I thought about just releasing that list, but on a whim I decided to make it far more entertaining for myself. I wrote a transcript of a imaginary TV show, with interviews and clips and studio guests and a charismatic presenter. I called the host William Williamson, a repeating character in all my fake TV show transcripts (a fact I only just remembered after searching for his name in the rec.juggling archive.).
You can read it here:
- In total, only 308 votes were cast (up to 10 per voter).
- Anthony Gatto came first with 22 votes.
- The lowest 13 places on the chart had only 2 votes each.
- In the case of the many ties, I basically decided who would go in which slot.
I hadn’t planned to do a sequel to the 2003 poll. I don’t remember why I decided to do it again, but history tells me I did. I created a new account under the name jugglingsurvey and posted the exact same questions as Icecold had the year before.
I posted the results to the IJDb website as an article in the Compendium (a collection of tutorials and writings about juggling that I was building at the time), again as the transcript of a fake TV show:
I wrote this a bit later, explaining my methods:
I counted up how many
times each juggler was listed in the “Name your top 10 favourite
jugglers”. This gave the basic rankings. From there the increase in votes
for the same jugglers from last year were used to break ties. The votes
were counted on 27th of October after about 65 responses. Vova and Olga,
when mentioned as a pair got one vote, when mentioned seperately got half
a vote each. I then gave them an extra half vote to put them one place
above me, not one place below (as is my right, because I didn’t use up all
ten votes in my survey reply).
- 414 votes in total.
- Jason Garfield took the top spot, with 35 votes.
- Again, the juggler in 40th place only got 2 votes. Back then it was trivial to make it onto the chart with the help of very basic ballot stuffing by friends. Fortunately nobody cared enough back then to try it.
In 2005, I did the same thing again. Read the results here (yet another fake TV show transcript):
- 557 votes cast in total.
- Gatto back on the top, with 49 votes.
- To get onto the chart a juggler now needed 3 votes.
I started the project the same way, but I wanted to present the results in a fresher way. I was interested in starting a podcast, so made an audio recording of me counting down through the results.
Juggling Podcast 1 – The Top 40 Most Popular Jugglers of 2006. – a 70 minute, 29mb mp3 file.
And so began the Juggling Podcast show, which was mostly a joint project with me and Pola, and that ran for 63 episodes. I’ve also recorded and released many other podcasts in different shows, and my long term project, the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, is in its fifth year, and regularly gets about 4,000 downloads per episode.
- 856 votes cast in total.
- Thomas Dietz came in top place, with 55 votes.
- A juggler now needed 5 votes to get into the list.
Another year, another poll, another set of results. This time Pola and I presented the results as another podcast.
Juggling Podcast 40 – Top 40 Most Popular Jugglers of 2007. – a 67 minute, 31mb mp3 file.
- 1198 votes cast in total.
- Wes Peden won with 99 votes.
- Rodney Mullen became the only non-juggler to make it onto the chart.
- 9 votes needed to get onto the chart.
By now I didn’t hide the fact that the juggling survey was for anything else but the Top 40 results.
The Juggling Podcast was drawing to a close by this point, and I had a YouTube account, so decided to make edited videos using footage of the jugglers in question:
- Just 1163 votes. Less votes cast than in 2007!
- Wes Peden won with 73 votes, less than the year before.
- 7 votes needed to get onto the chart.
I thought 2008 would be the last year I’d run the chart, as counting the votes became too much work year on year, as they increased. It turns out that not as many people voted in 2008 as 2009, which made me question if I’d bother running the chart again for another reason.
As it happens, in 2009 I learned a new skill: python scripting! I worked out I could take the automated emails that I received when anyone commented on a YouTube video and extract data.
I posted a video asking for votes as YouTube comments. It turns out there were WAY more jugglers on YouTube than on rec.juggling. I already knew this, but I was surprised to get over twice as many votes as in 2008.
I wrote a basic script to check for people who voted multiple times (easy with unique YouTube user names), check for people voting for more than 10 names, check for people voting many times for the same juggler, check for misspellings (oh so many!) and count up the results.
I released the results as a fast paced edited video with no voiceover:
- 2407 votes.
- Wes Peden won for the third year in a row, with 171 votes.
- 40th place needed 13 votes.
One stupid result of using a computer script to count up the votes was lack of oversight by me at every stage. The spell-checking module, which bunched variable spellings into a single blob and then assigned the votes, fucked up really badly at one point. Lorenzo Mastropietro made it into the chart only by stealing most of Sid Lorenzo’s votes (due to people only using Lorenzo’s first name). Lorenzo shouldn’t have been on the chart at all, and Sid should have been somewhere around 30.
I’ve never claimed the chart was scientific! Thankfully I caught the Yuri Yamamoto/Yuri Yamamura name similarity.
Another voting video, another variation of the python script, and I had the results quicker than ever before. But how to present them?
I knew I wanted to make another video, so had loads of clips from all the jugglers. Unfortunately I had no inspiration at all. I sat on the project for weeks as I did other projects during work trips. Way into January of 2011 I was going to abandon the project altogether, but opened up a text file to see if I could write my way out of it.
Up, down, in, out, who gives a shit?
And I realized I had to write and record a childishly vulgar rap about all the jugglers in the top 40 chart. I made a video too, of course:
- 4315 votes cast in total.
- Wes Peden won for the fourth year with 214 votes.
- 25 votes needed to get into the top 40.
I really enjoyed the style of this video. The clips worked well, the titles called back to the previous video (the fixed width bold typewriter font), the music was funky, the rapping fun to do, the lyrics irreverent.
And, as I could see it, the presentation was getting shorter and shorter. Long transcripts were one thing, then hour plus podcasts, then two 10 minute videos, then a four minute video, then a three minute video. Where to next?
Due to life getting in the way, I honestly didn’t think I’d get round to even running the poll for 2011, let alone compiling the results, and presenting them in a way that I found compelling. But I did, and then sat on the results for ages, trying to find inspiration once more.
In the end I made this video:
Pretty abrupt, right? To be honest, so many people were pestering me to make a clever video, I felt a bit put out. Sure, they were usually young and enthusiastic juggling nerds, but I had the feeling that nobody understood how much effort I put into these polls and results presentations. People spent time voting, sure, but the 2010 results videos took days to make.
So the 2011 video was a bit of an experiment. I spent just as much time, if not more, on creating the 12 second video than the one before. I gathered the photos (many of them photos I’d taken myself), then made 40 slides for the 40 jugglers. I wanted each slide to be as impressive as possible, like you could print it out and hang it on the wall as some kind of poster. The music says “I don’t have a lot of free time” but the final frames say how much time it really took.
I showed it to my girlfriend. She thought it was hilarious.
The fan reaction? Well, I made another blog post about that. It turns out that many people aren’t willing to put in very much work to dig down into the results, play it frame by frame, and discover all the levels of the video. I thought jugglers would enjoy such a game. It turns out not, for most of them anyway.
- 5151 votes cast.
- Lauge Benjaminsen won with 254 votes. Wes came in a close second with 244 votes.
- 28 votes needed to make it onto the chart.
I broke up the jugglers into blocks and presented different videos in different styles. This included a song at a piano, freestyle rap, opera and interpretive dance, a Luke Wilson Tribute interlude, talking directly to the camera, Epic Juggling Battle, and finally a Hollywood action movie trailer. You can see all the videos and read about them on the blog post: Top 40 Jugglers of 2012 – an epic journey. Alternatively you can watch the Top 40 Jugglers of 2012 YouTube Playlist from start to end.
Here is the “Top 6” video:
- 3457 votes cast
- Wes Peden won (for the fifth year) with 213 votes. Patrik Elmnert was 64 votes behind with 149.
- 20 votes needed to make it onto the chart.
For the 2013 chart I set myself a very difficult challenge: to release one video per juggler, with me copying a trick, sequence, or section of a live show, taken from a juggling video that was released in 2013.
As I finished them, I released each video on YouTube (and post them to Facebook) and let fellow jugglers guess who I was imitating.
Could I make it through?
I had a lot of fun making the videos, but it was a lot of work. Besides the juggling, I had to copy some mannerisms of the juggler, and often getting those right was sometimes harder than the juggling tricks themselves. Not that the juggling wasn’t fucking hard at points too.
As I went I made a side-by-side comparison edit with my impersonation/tribute/copy shown beside the original juggling video clip. After releasing all the individual clips I recorded a commentary track and released the full video. Here it is:
Which is your favourite clip?
Hardest tricks for me physically:
* 8 club passing 8-up 2-stage 720 due to having limited time to get the trick, meaning Brook and I didn’t rest much between attempts.
* 11 ball flash. I found so draining on my arms that I couldn’t manage other jugglers’ tricks.
* Nathan Bigg-Peterson’s 5 club multiplex backcrosses. I still have a lump in my lip from hitting myself in the face with a club. Also I broke not one but two bulbs for my studio lights, and they’re not cheap to replace.
* Alex Barron’s 6 ball siteswap 999333 with the second 3 behind the head. I’m just not used to throwing balls high like that after years of juggling in my 4.2 meter ceiling studio.
* 8 club multiplex. It took three days and at that point I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the 9 club version, as I could only practice the 8 club version at home. My hands got used to the grip by the end, but it was still very draining.
- 3281 votes cast
- Wes Peden won with 179 votes. Haavard Hvidsten and Tony Pezzo both got 148 votes, but due to the sorting formula, ties are broken by the juggler going up the chart the most, so Haavard got second place.
- 17 votes needed to make it onto the chart.
- Wes has now spent more years at number 1 than all the other number 1 jugglers combined (6 years for Wes, 5 years for all other number 1 jugglers).
- Jason Garfield became the first former number 1 juggler to drop out of the chart.
I started working on the idea for this video before I opened the voting, to make sure I wouldn’t be too late with it. The plan was to make a backing track using only the sounds I found in the videos of the top 40 jugglers, cut together into beats and music, and then do a 2010-style rap over the top. The test loops worked pretty well, but then when the voting started it became clear that quite a few of the jugglers featured in the loops dropped would drop out of the top 40. Alex Barron? Couldn’t use his sample “many of the top jugglers”. Vova Galchenko? Also out.
On a work trip in January I finished most of the sound track, and a lot of the video editing, but then when I showed it to Juliane, she didn’t think it stood out. The backing track, that I’d spent so much effort on, felt like just a normal soundtrack. Nothing special. She said I should release just the music, and let people figure out the source videos and jugglers from that. So I did!
As you can tell from the YouTube annotations and comments, it was a real team effort to get all 40 source videos. Łukasz Uczkiewicz not only featured in the chart, but also tracked down about quarter of the source videos. The trickiest was Lewis Kennedy, with the repeated dart-hitting-dartboard sound from his ‘All these videos are like long teasers for the n’ video. A few days later, once all the videos had been found, I published the final video “Sounds and Pictures”:
- 3631 votes cast by 410 people, up from last year.
- Actually, about 300 more votes were cast, but were discarded due to a vote-stuffing effort.
- Wes Peden won with 227 votes. Haavard Hvidsten and Tony Pezzo stayed at 2nd and 3rd, and again with a very similar number of votes (146 and 142).
- 21 votes needed to make it onto the chart.
- Vova Galchenko, on the chart from the very first year, slipped out the top 40 for the first time. Stefan Sing, on the chart every year since 2004, also didn’t make it in 2014.
- 2014 had the highest number of women jugglers, a total of 4. Maybe we can have some more next year?
In 2015 I wanted to go back to the 2009 format of showing clips of jugglers with some commentary. But I didn’t want to do the commentary myself. Instead I thought “Who would be good at talking about other jugglers with more enthusiasm than I can muster?” So, a few months before the end of the year, I asked Lewis Kennedy if he was interested in helping out with the video. He said yes!
Once we had the list of jugglers, I set about editing the clips of the jugglers in order (finding fun tricks from videos released in 2015 or the most recent videos I could find of other jugglers). Lewis recorded himself talking about all the jugglers, and sent me that footage. I mashed it all together, including the titles and annotations, and we were done! Having some help on the video was a good move, as it only took a few weeks from the counting of the final vote to the finished video.
- 4848 votes cast by 558 people. Not only is this up from last year, but is the second biggest voting effort so far (only 2011 had more votes).
- Ofek Snir won with 230 votes.
- Wes Peden came second with 226 votes. Wes has now come second twice in the last nine years. He lost to Lauge Benjaminsen in 2011 and now Ofek Snir. From this we learn two things. 1. Pirouettes are Wes Peden’s kryptonite. 2. When over 550 people vote, Wes comes second.
- 32 votes were needed to make it onto the chart.
- Thomas Dietz, on the chart since the very first year, and number one in 2006, missed place this year by just three votes. He joins Jason Garfield and Lauge Benjaminsen as former top placed jugglers to leave the chart.
- 13 new entries and one re-entry (Josh Horton).
- No, we didn’t beat last year’s record of four women jugglers on the chart. Just three this year.
In 2016 I had many, many requests for a 2010-style music track to present the results. I didn’t think just repeating the formula would be interesting or entertaining enough for me personally, so I decided to go bigger and produce a whole EP. Five tracks long, with five distinct styles, the T40J16 EP took about 25 hours to compose and record and edit the video.
- 4443 votes cast by 539 people. Down slightly from last year, but still the third most people voting so far.
- Ofek Snir won for the second year in a row, with 246 votes, more votes than last year.
- Wes Peden dropped out of the top two jugglers for the first time since 2007, with nine years in a row either number one or two.
- 26 votes were needed to make it onto the chart. This is the second time Eric Longequel was in the 40th spot.
- Anthony Gatto, the number one juggler in 2003 and 2005, dropped off the chart for the first time ever.
- Nine new entries and four re-entries (Lauge Benjaminsen, Etienne Chauzy, Sean Gandini, Guillaume Karpowicz).
2003 – 2016 info.
The name changed over the years, but every year someone gets confused and thinks it’s about who is technically the best juggler. It isn’t.
- Top 40 Most Popular Jugglers
- Top 40 Favourite Jugglers
- Top 40 Jugglers
In total, 180 jugglers have been featured on the chart.
The following two jugglers have been on the chart every year so far:
- Jay Gilligan
- Luke Burrage
Anthony Gatto was on the chart for 13 years, up to 2016. Thomas Dietz was on the chart for 12 years, up to 2014. Vova Galchnko was on the chart for 11 years, up to 2013. Stefan Sing and Jason Garfield each appeared for 10 years.
Only eleven female jugglers have been featured on the chart:
- Olga Galchenko
- Joelle Huguenin
- Francois Rochoise
- Neta Oren
- Erin Stephens
- Cindy Marvel
- Katrin Pancakes
- Cinthia Buitrón
- Svetlana Zueva
- Delaney Bayles
One day I’ll write a python script that will combine all the data into one database so I can spit out more interesting facts. So far all the data from 2003–2007 is in one spreadsheet, along with all the top 40 jugglers from 2008–2014, but the jugglers lower than 40 in those years aren’t properly collated.