FAIRFIELD — Jugglers can usually be found at circuses, variety theaters, festivals and fairs.
Not in front of juries.
The last location was just the place the Raspyni Brothers performed about 20 years ago. Their captive audience was the sequestered folks deciding the fate of O.J. Simpson.
“It was quite an experience,” said Dan Raspyni, half of the duo. “It was a fun backstage look at history.”
The “faux-bros” have also juggled knives with John Wayne Bobbitt in the crowd at an “Evening at the Improv” show. Bobbitt’s wife used a knife to attack him 20 years ago in a case that drew worldwide attention and plenty of material for late-night comics.
That’s just the beginning. The juggling pair performed for President Ronald Reagan, worked with Jonathan Winters, Howie Mandel, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, to name a few.
There were appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “Entertainment Tonight” and Jerry Lewis’ annual telethon. The Fetterly Playhouse now joins that list as Dan Raspyni brings his solo show to the playhouse on Friday.
Being solo is more difficult and somewhat similar to starting over, Raspyni said.
“I have been doing this (working in a duo) for 32 years,” he said. “And working solo three or four years. It’s weird. It’s like starting over. I’m just trying to re-establish myself and stay current.”
The one-man shows don’t signify the end of the brother jugglers. If they get a call, they go. In fact, they are doing a show together next month.
Dan Raspyni is pursuing other things, such as a class he’ll teach on fringe theater. It’s a new outlet and, hopefully, an income generator.
“I just want to last in show business,” he said. “I don’t want to run out of money.”
Working with an art form that hasn’t changed much in the thousands of years it has existed is challenging, Raspyni said.
“A lot of people expect a certain thing,” he said. “I like to express myself originally. I want people to say, ‘He’s the only person doing this.’ ”
While performing, Raspyni never fully takes his mind off juggling, though sometimes he can go on autopilot.
“I try to focus more on the comedy and connection with the audience,” he said. “It’s really a comedy show. Everyone likes to laugh and be entertained. Very few people are fans of just juggling.”
He tries to practice an hour a day to keep sharp and move forward. He starts with skills he uses in the show. Hats and tennis balls are his first choice as they are lightweight and warm up his hands. Then, he adds items with handles.
Tennis balls in a can are his favorite props because they are light.
“It takes physical straining for juggling,” he said. “I’m a lazy man’s juggler. I like things that take less strain.”
Raspyni learned juggling from a book. That was in 1974. There was no YouTube to learn from.
“I don’t think I saw another juggler in person until six or seven years later,” he said.
The art has never gone mainstream, he said, though there was a brief explosion in the 1980s with the new vaudeville movement. Toward the end of the 1980s, juggling conventions could attract a few thousand attendees. Now it’s about 400, he said.
“It’s never been represented well,” he said. “There was never a character associated with it so it could catch on.”
Raspyni promises a fast-paced show in Vallejo with plenty to focus on. A sort of juggling joyride, he said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.