For many years I got my performing “fix” by juggling and being funny on stage, and only wrote and played music for myself at home. In 2010 I shared various songs with some other musicians, and they encouraged me to focus more on funny/clever songs. In 2011 I set myself the goal of writing full show’s worth of comedy material, with the focus on funny songs. Since then I’ve been performing as much as possible in Berlin, mostly at standup comedy shows and open stages.
Which means I’ve also videoed myself numerous times. Below are all the videos I’ve uploaded so far (in no particular order), and I’ve also included a list of all the songs that may make it into my full shows, but that I’ve not yet recorded or released. I’ll add new videos to this blog post when or if I make them.
I Like You – a pop song about love and relationships written from the perspective of 14 year old me:
Leprosy (Yesterday) – a cover of Yesterday by The Beatles:
Rebound Dating – based on true events (video of first ever performance):
Hey Luke, Hey You – I’m very bad at remembering people’s names. Here’s a song about some of my strategies to deal with that problem (video of first ever performance):
Spooked – I wrote this song back in 1999, and now perform it once a year around Halloween:
Bitterly Autobiographical (The Crazy Girl) – advice to my younger self to avoid heartache and pain:
Standup Comedy Jokes My Girlfriend Doesn’t Like – song about open stage stand up comedy shows in Berlin, written from the perspective of my girlfriend, also co-written by my girlfriend:
The Twin Song – about the benefits of being an identical twin.
6.022 x 10 to the 23rd – the intersection of science, religion and bodily fluids.
I love you so much (I’d go back in time (and kill Hitler) for you) – a love song for my German girlfriend.
I am Luke’s Wallet – a song written from the point of view of the things I carry in my pockets, about the fact that I’m writing a song about the things I carry in my pockets.
This Song (is called This Song (is called This Song)) – a song about the very song I sing.
I’ve worked on the HAL Prinsendam more than any other ship. I’ve done maybe 15 individual contracts, often spanning two cruises. There are upsides and downsides to working on such a small and old ship. The theater is tiny, which is not very good for a juggling show, and the guest entertainer cabins are considered some of the noisiest and vibrating-est in the business.
But one of the many reasons I enjoy working on the Prinsendam is the more adventurous itineraries. It specializes in visiting ports that other ships sail right past, or are so far that only a few ships visit each year. In many cases, the Prinsendam is the first cruise ship that has ever visited, or the first since the 1960’s. This means that every time I’ve worked on the Prinsendam I’ve visited either a new country, or a new island, or a new port.
Here’s a collection of most of the photos I’ve taken of the Prinsendam, from land or from the ship itself. As I work more on the ship (which I’m sure I will), and take more photos, I’ll add them to this blog post.
My first cruise on the Prinsendam began in Montevideo, Uruguay. We sailed up the coast of Brazil to Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife.
The Prinsendam was first called the Royal Viking Sun.
At Santorini, Greece.
At Honningsvag, the northernmost port in mainland Europe.
Sailing up to the Arctic ocean pack ice.
Passengers on the forward decks trying to spot whales and seals in the pack ice.
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard.
Stromboli volcano, Italy.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
La Palma, Canary Islands.
St. Tropez, France.
Stromboli volcano, Italy.
Port Elizabeth, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.
With the Maasdam at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.
Devil’s Island, French Guyana.
On the Amazon River, Brazil.
St. Peter Port, Guernsey.
The Isle of Skye, Scotland.
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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 TVshow transcripts (a fact I only just remembered after searching for his name in the rec.juggling archive.).
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 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):
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.
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:
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.
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?
2003 – 2013 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, 158 jugglers have been featured on the chart.
The following four jugglers have been on the chart every year so far:
Vova Galchnko was on the chart for 11 years, up to 2013. Stefan Sing and Jason Garfield each appeared for 10 years.
Only nine female jugglers have been featured on the chart:
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.
Only seven female jugglers have been featured on the chart:
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 2008–2013, but the jugglers lower than 40 in those years aren’t properly collated.