Entries tagged with “madison”.

I was hoping that all of the recent hubbub with Kenny Strasser might work out well for me by letting me get on TV in my hometown of Madison WI, so I wrote to my favorite local TV station to see if they would be interested in an interview.

With all the attention that Kenny Strasser has been getting lately I thought you folks might like to have a real yo-yo man on your show sometime.  My name is Mark Hayward, I grew up in Madison, and I am a full-time professional juggler and yo-yo man.

I’m sure you will want to do some checking into whether I am the real thing, so I’ve got some easy credentials for you:

– I used to work with Carleen Wild’s [one of the evening newscasters] husband at REI just behind West Towne Mall
– I have been on your show before.  I was the guy doing the talking in the July/August 1999 interview with the MadFive juggling team with Mike McKinney (my hair was long then)
– I have performed in the Kids in the Rotunda/Crossroads show every year for many years.

I grew up in Madison, but live in Pittsburgh now.  I am contacting you now, of course, because of Kenny Strasser.  I don’t know anything about who he is, and I am not part of whatever he is up to, but since he is basically making a big joke out of what I do for a living, I thought you might like to get another side of the story.

I will be travelling near Madison around May 30/31 on my way to an internship with a master spin-top maker in Omaha Nebraska, so I would be glad to come by for an interview if you are interested.

Here’s what they wrote back:

Thanks for the offer. However our producers have decided to pass on
Yo-Yo related  live guests.
Best of luck.

Oh well.  It was worth a try.  Apparently the News Director is sick of the whole yo-yo ordeal.  I asked them to let me know if they ever change their minds.

I had a gig Friday night in Lombard IL, followed by three shows the next morning for Kids In The Rotunda in Madison WI. The shows all went well and were fun to do. One of the great things about doing the Kids In The Rotunda shows is that since I grew up, and went to college in Madison, there are often people I know in the audience. Old friends (usually with their kids now), the parents of old friends, and in the second show this time I saw my Middle School science teacher Mr. Leidel. I was trying to mention the fact that he was there during the show, but I couldn’t deliver lines, and figure out where to mention him, at the same time well enough to do it. I couldn’t find him after the show either, with the rush of people trying to buy yo-yos and wanting trading cards, and I’m not sure he even recognized me anyway. Middle school was a long time ago.

After the shows, I got really lucky and got to have a quick personal tour of the two big theaters in the new Overture Center. John, who had been running sound for me, offered to show me the newly remodeled Capitol Theater (formerly remodeled as the Oscar Meyer Theater, but now returned to its original name), and the brand-new Overture Theater. It was awesome.

I have actually performed in the Capitol Theater twice, and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, one of the shows was on 9/11, so John and I share that bond since we both were working that day. The Capitol Theater is one of the two massive ones in town that were built in the days of Vaudeville. First the Civic Center, and after that was demolished the Overture center, were built around the Capitol Theater. So inside a sparkling, new, modern building you have a gorgeous old Vaudeville theater. I was worried that the remodel (to make it smaller) was going to destroy it, but they did a great job.

The newly renovated Capitol Theater

The brand-new Overture Theater is pretty great too. It has a TRIPLE balcony! It’s an astonishing sight standing on the stage looking up at the house when it’s empty, so I can only imagine how great it would be to play to a full house there. They have a new giant symphonic pipe organ, and a really cool retracting symphony shell that allows all the sound to go out into the house instead of getting lost backstage, or up in the grid above the stage. I don’t think it’ll be happening any time soon, but I sure hope I get to perform to a full house on a stage as grand as this one.

Overture Hall

Having just finished another great MadFest juggling convention I have come to a better understanding of why there was such a controversy over the popularity of the Chris Bliss video that swept the internet a while back. (If you haven’t already seen it, check it out here before you read the rest of this article.)

MadFest is the annual regional juggler’s convention that is held each January in Madison Wisconsin. I have helped organize it to one degree or another since it started. For the last six years I have been in charge of the Public Show.

This year, as usual, we had a fantastic show. We had great jugglers like Luke Wilson (Brittish, living in Germany) and the Dew Drop Jugglers (Minneapolis/St. Paul MN) and we had great variety acts like The Rope Warrior (Chicago) and the Flybar Pogo Stick Demo Team (Chicago/Ohio), and sold out our 1300 seat theater once again. It’s always a challenge convincing people to go to the show, but once they go they are usually astonished at how great it was. For the most part, once people have seen the show they make it a family tradition to go every year. Initially it was frustrating to me that people didn’t seem to believe me that the show was going to be good enough to be worth seeing. I eventually got over the fact that not everyone thinks juggling is as cool as I do, although that never seemed like the whole story. This year I think I have seen the light, and my frustration has changed to a slightly different form: I think that American society no longer believes that live entertainment is worth the trouble.


Tomorrow I leave for Madison WI to start the ramp-up to the MadFest Juggling Festival.  I have to go earlier this year than usual because I will be doing a radio interview on Tuesday morning (at 6:30 am… ug) on Z104.  As usual I’m really looking forward to the fest, and a bunch of my favorite people in the whole world are coming, so it should be a blast.

Also, we will once again have the Wisconsin State Yo-yo Contest at MadFest this year.  Unfortunately, this was the year of starting everything later than I should have, so there aren’t many details up about the contest yet, but that should change soon.

Yesterday, Vader (my dog) and I left Indianapolis around noon Eastern time. We stopped briefly at the library to get what turned out to be a boring audiobook. I’m actually still in the middle of listening to Dune by Frank Herbert (and it’s AWESOME!) but it’s on cassette and I wanted to take the good car this time, and it only has a CD player. The plan was to drive up to Milwaukee, stop at Lynn’s house (my mother-in-law), drop off Vader and then head off to the gig at the Milwaukee Zoo. Unfortunately, leaving later than we should have (my fault, not Vader’s), coupled with unusually bad traffic in Chicago (we lost an hour), meant that we had to drive straight to the Zoo, and Vader had to wait in the car for me while I did the gig. For lunch I had packed a sandwich, some blueberries (that I got on Saturday when I performed at one of the Indianapolis Farmer’s Markets), some carrots and two cookies. Good thing too, since there was not time to stop for dinner before the gig.


This was a good day. Took Vader to the dog park in Madison with my Mom and Brother, had some delicious food, hung out with some family friends, made some more food, ate it, had an awesome birthday cake in the shape of a giant beetle with chocolate Twizzlers for legs, and went to the fireworks at Elver Park. I love the fireworks shows on the 4th. All the booming and whirring and whistling. It’s great.

Today will be my last day of Summerfest for this year. Last night Marcus Monroe had a barbeque at his house. It was a lot of fun. They even surprised me with a birthday cake. Andrew and Wayne were there and Andrew was in his full glory. He was hilarious, and at times it was like we were watching the Andrew show.

After my shows at Summerfest today, Vader and I head off to Madison for a few days since my brother Kent and his new fiancee Lissa are in town. I’m really looking forward to it.

I spent this week on the road doing shows. Monday was the Summer Music Clinic up in Madison WI, Tuesday and Wednesday down in Evansville IN, and then Thursday back up North to Skokie IL. It would’ve been nice if I could have had better routing so I didn’t have to do so much driving, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.