They are two clean-cut guys who like to dress in tights and toss around chainsaws to Strauss's "On the Beautiful Blue Danube." They've been on "The Tonight Show," performed for Prince Charles, and won 18 gold medals from the International Jugglers Association--more than any other team in the world. They are Jon Wee and Owen Morse, a pair of irreverent jugglers who call themselves The Passing Zone.
But it's not just their incredible coordination and timing that makes them a favorite at corporate events. It's their clever banter and their ability to tailor the act to match a company's culture.
Morse and Wee met at a jugglers' convention in 1986. Both were college students whose true love was juggling. The pair started performing at festivals, birthday parties, and on the street. They made a name for themselves by winning awards, breaking records (they are the only juggling pair to use 11 pins), and establishing themselves as corporate entertainers.
Company meetings and trade shows now comprise about 90 percent of The Passing Zone's business. The pair, who live in San Francisco, are on the road about the half the year.
Before an appearance, the two ask clients to send information about their company and the meeting. They interview the meeting planner and send out a questionnaire about the company's mission, employee culture, and the purpose of the event. During a meeting, they listen to the other speakers. "That way you can hear how the audience is responding to different things," Morse says.
Sharon Neville, executive producer of the Million Dollar Round Table, has booked them for the past two MDRT annual meetings. "They got incredibly high ratings in our surveys," she says. "They are just amazingly entertaining, and they personalize their message."
One of the biggest crowd-pleasers is the Flaming Helmet of Death, in which Morse and Wee coax a well-known audience member (your CEO, perhaps?) on stage, strap a helmet with rods sticking out of it to his or her head, set those rods on fire, start them spinning, and then toss sickles to each other on either side of the esteemed leader.
"People love to see an authority figure up there being tormented by jugglers," explains Wee, who says they strive to identify with their audience. Their humor is clean, and they usually wear suits and ties (except, of course, when performing the Chainsaw Ballet). "We look a lot like people in the audience," he says. "And in many ways, juggling isn't unlike what people do in their jobs."
Hire them as "keynote jugglers," and they'll use juggling to drive home messages about teamwork, risk taking, and achieving goals. Call them at (415) 379-3995.