Juggle This
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Juggle This

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Band Comedy Comedy

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"Comedy-stunt Team Juggle This! Makes First Night Debut"

Yes, But Is It Juggling?

by Debra Lawless

“Because of the way your nose is constructed, you can take a three-inch penny nail and jam it all the way up in your nose.”

Naturally, just because you can do it, you may not want to do it. So why even talk about it?

The speaker is Ryan Dekoe, one half of the comedy juggling team Juggle This! Stephen King is the other half of the team, and the duo will perform at Chatham First Night this year for the first time. Dekoe described, during a recent telephone interview, the many classical components, such as circus side shows (the venue for the three-inch penny nail trick) and freak shows, vaudeville, comedy and, of course, juggling, that make up Juggle This!’s eclectic and highly entertaining act.

“We try to run the gamut of human emotions,” he says, describing a typical show. “We’re not strictly an ‘oh, wow, act.’ We’re funny, we make you mad, you cringe. It’s like a universal butt clinch right before he staples the dollar bill to my head.”

King staples a dollar bill to Dekoe’s head?Accompanied by Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” with the line “Gone insane from the pain that they surely know?”

Right.

Oh, and King uses a carpet stapler.

But don’t worry. “A guest will actually take it out of my forehead,” Dekoe says. And there is a trick to this. “You look up and staple it up into that little fat pocket in your head.”

Dekoe, who now lives in Middletown, Conn. and Ryan, now of Sturbridge, met when they were 12-year-old Cub Scouts in Bristol, Conn. They came to juggling oddly enough through separate paths. King got hooked when a man demonstrated juggling to his fifth grade class. Dekoe developed a passion for juggling after a baseball coach “told me juggling baseballs would make me a better baseball player.”

Later on King found himself at Emerson College, studying children’s TV production. Dekoe joined Up With People and stayed with that international performing arts and service company for three years, working at one point as the group’s drummer. Within a year of King’s graduation the pair formed Juggle This!, their own company, based in Manchester, Conn., and they regularly began appearing on stage doing things like “basically shoving one of those long animal balloons down his throat,” as Dekoe describes one of King’s stunts.

By the way, this is the full-time job for these guys. “It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it,” King jokes. They have brought their act to major East Coast cities such as Boston, Worcester, Hartford and New York. At one time they traveled through the five-star resorts in Mexico’s Mayan Peninsula. They have also performed in Canada and the Netherlands and were semi-finalists on America’s Got Talent. King worked with Steve Martin on “Pink Panther 2.”

They also run a company called Fly By Night Entertainment through which they book hypnotists, jugglers, stilt walkers and other similar acts. “We broker them,” King says.

King bills Juggle This! as a variety show—quite obviously, the pair does a lot more than juggling. He compares them to Penn and Teller, the edgy illusionist/comedy duo, substituting juggling for magic.

“We model ourselves after old school, very fast-speaking Laurel and Hardy with a modern twist,” Dekoe says. “We’re a very classical buddy show. We’re sort of a vaudeville ‘Dumb and Dumber.’” As well as juggling and whip cracking, a traditional rodeo performance art, the show also features a lot of what King dubs “modern stand-up comedy” of the sophisticated style seen in New York and Boston.

“It’s situational comedy,” he says, using volunteers from the audience. “I’m a cross between a family guy and someone doing jackass-style stunts.” Depending on the audience, their shows range from PG to R ratings. The show at First Night Chatham will be family friendly. As Dekoe says, “boys 10 to 18 are our biggest fans.”

Now, to get back to that whip cracking for a moment— when Dekoe cracks the whip, he “will break something out of my mouth,” King says.

Has anything ever gone wrong? Well, yes, once. The pair was performing at a fair six hours north of Edmonton, Canada, and when Dekoe cracked the whip he smacked King’s glasses right off his face. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

In another segment Deko juggles machetes over King’s face.

Surely to submit to this kind of thing takes trust.

“We’re best friends,” King says. “You can see on stage the history we have together.”

The show ends with Dekoe and King eating fire to the theme song of “Top Gun.”

Eating fire revolves around “a mixture of science and guts,” Dekoe says. “You tilt your head back. Theoretically heat rises. When you close your mouth around it you’re extinguishing the oxygen and putting out the flames.”

Oh, is that all it is?

“Just don’t put your lips on the metal or you could burn your lips off,” Dekoe warns. “It’s a very dangerous stunt.”

Juggle This! will perform at First Night in the Chatham High - Cape Cod Chronicle, MA


"Artist Showcase"

An outrageously good time awaits you at the next Fly By Night show! Enter Stephen King (who?) and Ryan Dekoe, a duo that has been performing for fifteen years. They travel across the country doing "stupid tricks."

Their unique brand ("Dangerously Stupid") of off-the-wall comedy combines old school Vaudeville, classic sideshow antics and contemporary humor into one extremely popular and unforgettable show.

Since 1990, this crazy but hilarious pair has delivered humor that never fails to win the hearts of even the most hard to please audiences. The show is jam-packed with technical skills, fast paced comedic dialogue, quick-witted improvisation, audience participation, excitement, and danger (don't worry, it's more perceived than actual). For more than a decade, their high energy performances and quirky sense of humor have been witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people.

Fly By Night have a certain synergy that is hard to find in a normal duo. Steve and Ryan's professionalism and polish as artists is the result of countless hours of training, performing, hard work, and a passion for entertaining.

Always dressed in their custom made stylish 1940's style "zoot suits," they provide a great atmosphere for any event. They are popular for corporate promotions, "A" list parties, VIP events, product promotions and trade shows. - American Entertainment Magazine


"Two acts balance laughs with lots of flying stuff"

Most comedy shows don't involve flying knives or flaming lawn chairs. But those props are the stock in trade of the Airborne Comedians and Fly by Night Dangerous Comedy, two acts on today's First Night bill. Both are comedy duos that trace their juggling and jokes back to vaudeville and street performing, but each takes the tradition in a different direction.

Dan Foley and Joel Harris of the Airborne Comedians, who play three shows at Hynes Convention Center Hall D this afternoon, are a veteran family-oriented act. They come off like the Smothers Brothers without a straight man, often juggling chairs and musical equipment while Foley plays guitar and parodies pop music. Since moving objects are not funny in and of themselves, Foley and Harris realized early on that they needed a comedic element to complete their act.
"We found we were better received and got bigger audiences and more money when we made the act into more of a comedy thing, which was character-driven," Foley says.
The Airborne Comedians take their inspiration from classic slapstick artists such as Charlie Chaplin and modern clowns such as Bill Irwin. Fly by Night looks more to old-time sideshow acts and maverick magicians such as Penn & Teller.
"We kind of consider ourselves more of a new age vaudeville -- classic vaudeville mixed with contemporary humor," says Stephen King (not to be confused with the author and Red Sox fan). King and partner Ryan Dekoe run their own entertainment company in Holyoke featuring fire eaters, belly dancers, hypnotists, and even lumberjacks, and those performers influence the duo's act.
"Because we're involved in this type of entertainment, we meet a lot of eclectic people along our journey, and they tend to show us things here and there that are interesting, and we kind of incorporate them into the show," says King.
Tonight's early evening shows at the City Place/Transportation Building will be toned down a bit from Fly by Night's usual college act, but you can expect to see some of the sideshow elements, possibly including a stunt in which Dekoe staples a dollar bill to his forehead.
"We do some juggling, whip cracking, we walk on broken glass," says King.
Traditionally, stand-up comedians take a dim view of jugglers and guitar-playing comics, and the Airborne's Foley has been both. Theirs is not a nightclub act (Foley points out that the lack of space alone would kill it), and some comics feel that any prop other than a microphone and maybe a stool is a crutch for the unfunny. Foley is aware of the prejudice but takes it in stride.
"I would say we are a couple of rungs below the magicians, but easily a rung above the mimes," he deadpans.
- Boston Globe


"interPLAY Article (2007)"

Stephen King and Ryan Dekoe literally juggle a career on the road.
Taunting audiences with sharp instruments and a pointed wit, the Fly by Night duo entertained crowds this past weekend at InterPlay with their Juggle This show.
Whether knocking a cigar out of a volunteer's mouth, balancing a youngster on their shoulders while on a rolling skateboard, or walking on glass the duo reached out to a friendly crowd on their first gig in Canada.
"I love Canadians. They are very nice people, so we have to back down our sarcasm a little bit because we tend to be a little abrasive," said performer Stephen King.
The Boston, Mass. duo found a love for performance early in life taking their act to the streets after meeting in cub scouts. Over time the show developed more of a self-admitted sarcastic edge, including taking verbal shots at their patrons.
"We try to balance the sarcasm and humour without offending people. That's the hardest part about travelling on the road is judging your audience where you are, different places and different types of people," said King, adding they are a lot nicer off stage than on.


Street performances were packed for the duo and other acts like the Aerial Angels, Dan the One Man Band, The Gargoyle and Charlie Chaplin.
Decked out in a bright purple business suit, Ryan Dekoe dared the audience to get involved in the circus-type show and had no trouble enticing several youngsters to participate.
"It helps to bring people into the act," said Dekoe. "When you work in a place like Boston people are a little bit more reluctant. But here it seems like everyone's "sure whatever. Actually it seems easier here than in the states."
Drawing a crowd was also an easy task as InterPlay president Russell Thomas said Friday and Saturday were the busiest days the festival has experienced.
"The size of the crowds at the street performers stage were four-people deep at the back for most of the afternoon. It was really incredible."
Thomas said the line-ups throughout the festival site were the longest they've seen and indoor shows displayed growth at the box office. He added the growing festival is getting well known for being very generous to street performers.
"We have a reputation across Canada now for being one the best festivals for street performers and it sure shows by the amount of people that came out."
Although it's a long trip from Boston, King said he and Dekoe wouldn't have trouble keeping their act in the air for a supportive Canadian audience.
"I don't know if it's this community or Canada as a whole but it seems like everyone is very appreciative of having this kind of entertainment here and they take advantage of it when it is here. It's terrific." - Fort McMurray Today


Discography

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Bio

Comedians Stephen King and Ryan Dekoe are a hysterically hilarious, albeit odd pair. They grew up together in Bristol, Connecticut, juggling, doing stunts, getting in trouble and trying to be funny. Now, almost 25 years later they are still trying to stay out of trouble and be funny with their on-the-edge style of truly dangerous comedy. Steve and Ryan's show is a bizarre mix of stand-up comedy, skill based stunts and freakish sideshow antics that has been described as “a live cross between Jack-Ass and Family Guy.” They have performed at over 200 colleges and universities in 48 states and have appeared on America’s Got Talent, Pink Panther 2, NBC’s Today Show, The Flying Karamazov Brothers and Late Night with David Letterman.