On September 11, 2012 Mark Angelo Peachock became a Guiness World Record holder by spit juggling two ping pong balls 212 consecutive times breaking the previous record of 186. That along with a recent appearance on the David Letterman Show plus a busy performance schedule means that life is looking up for this juggler.
Mark is also a three time IJA Gold Medal winning juggler (1995 3-Person Club Passing with David Cain & Merry Spahr, 1997 Teams Championship, and 1997 Numbers Ring Passing with Charlie Peachock). Mark Angelo Peachock has been juggling since 1992 and performing his current show “Comedy In High Definition” since 2008.
According to Mark it all started when he was 12 years old watching PBS and seeing a British juggler in a pub. That combined with his older brother showing him how to juggle two balls in one hand and the seed of becoming a performing juggler was planted. In his mother’s kitchen with three wadded up napkins Mark says he taught himself the cascade pattern. Moving on to baseballs got his friends talking and letting him know that he could get paid for his talent. He shrugged off that crazy idea. Then in his sophomore year in high school some of his friends started up a juggling club. Mark also spent a lot of time with the Rubber City Jugglers. Lured in by the interesting props like rings, diabolo, and clubs, Mark joined. Practicing on his own and at the two juggling clubs really ramped up his learning curve. As Mark says, growing up in Ohio at that time, and without the distractions of the internet, there was a lot of time to practice. A copy of Dave Finnigan’s “The Complete Juggler” became his instructor and he formed a plan to learn every trick in the book. A little more than 20 years later that’s a goal Mark says is about 80% complete.
The path, of course, led to juggling festivals and attending the IJA, aka according to Mark, the world where jugglers are happy to share their tricks and to teach. The first fest Mark attended was in State College, PA where he met Greg Kennedy who has gone on to IJA and Cirque du Soleil fame, and Michael Menes who was a special guest at the event. From that first mini convention Mark felt completely welcomed in the world of juggling.
Mark attended his first IJA as a high school student in the summer of 1991 in St. Louis. At 17 Mark remembers being very focused on being on the floor juggling as much as possible. Acknowledging his A.D.D. he felt he would learn more from walking around the gym floor and watching than going to workshops. One of the highlights from that first IJA was learning what it takes to do 5 club backcrosses from Sergey Ignatov and knowing that he wasn’t going to do that trick. That very summer Mark got his first paid gig juggling at a family reunion. Even though he doesn’t remember exactly what he did in the show or what he said, the lasting memory from that first performance was the overwhelming positive feedback from the audience. It was juggling that Mark feels helped him, as a teenager, get through those awkward years and helped him discover his life’s profession of making people happy and to help them have a good time.
His first performing jobs slowly began to show up around the holidays. Northeast Ohio isn’t exactly a tourist mecca so performing jobs tended to be built around celebrations like holidays or birthdays. There were the occasional art gallery openings but that was pretty much it at the beginning. This left a lot of time for practice which at this point was really his main focus… juggling for the love of juggling.
After that year and those first shows Mark let his Mom know that he had found his life’s profession. His first chance to do street preforming happened at Sea World in Aurora, Ohio with the sea lions, penguins and Shamu The Killer Whale. At Sea World, Mark performed as many as three shows a day throughout that summer. These first few years Mark said were spent finding his performing style. In 1993, he got his first chance to perform regularly in a tour with Circus Kingdom out of Harrisburg, PA. Each summer, a crew of college students was recruited and a new show was created. Here is a YouTube link to a short video from the 1990 season: www.youtube.com/watch?v=H480CeQ3ceQ. Mark joined the 1993 tour all up and down the east coast of the US visiting as many as 26 cities per month throughout the summer. The circus included college students from all over the country with skills in gymnastics, trampoline, unicycle, clowning, fire eating, and, of course, juggling. Alumnae from other years include David and Scott Cain. As with most circuses, acts spent a lot of time learning other skills to constantly improve and expand the show over the course of the tour. Each week the troupe would meet to pitch new ideas for the show. Mark remembers pitching a unicycle routine with Black Beard, Red Beard, and Mark as No Beard. At this time, Mark was performing more technical juggling with 5 balls overhead, clubs, and 5 rings as well as a club passing routine with three other performers. This was when Mark discovered his interest in club passing.
After performing that summer with Circus Kingdom Mark returned to Kent State to study geology. He continued performing where and when he could, developing his skills and refining his show. Considering his prospects of becoming Civil Engineer, work for the gas and oil industry, or the U.S. Geologic Survey, he chose juggling.
Around this time, in 1997, Mark’s brother, Charlie Peachock, was performing on cruise ships with Benji Hill. As that partnership ended, Charlie asked Mark to join him on the ships. Mark jumped right in and got to see the world while performing. Performing on the cruise lines some of their tricks included 10 club passing and ultimate passes behind the back with 6 clubs.
Some advice Mark remembers getting from Mark Nizer even before he started performing, was to keep working on his own skills and that if he was going to be a juggler, juggle, so that you have the chops; and if you are going to perform, be a performer. You don’t have to have all the technical skills to be an interesting performer and entertain audiences. Keeping that philosophy in mind, Mark continued practicing his own juggling skills even though he knew some of them, like passing 10 clubs, were not always going to be included in the show. Charlie and Mark performed together on cruise ships for seven years. During that time, Mark and Charlie competed in and won the 1997 Teams Championship at the IJA. In getting ready to compete in the IJA, Mark said they would practice between 6 to 8 hours a day every day. They spent most time on ultimate back crosses and ran through their eight minute routine trick by trick. After seven years performing together on the ships from 1997 to 2004, they decided that they were both good enough to go solo. Performing solo meant a bigger pay day for each performance which was a big attraction. So, they each became solo acts. As fate would have it, just a few weeks later Mark met his future wife Marlo and they were married in 2005.
For the next couple of years, Mark continued to perform on cruise ships as a solo act. Marlo came to the act with a strong dance background and juggling skills. In their act today, she passes clubs, dances with poi, and cracks the whip (Insert wife joke here!) on Mark as he rides his 6 foot unicycle. In their current show, Mark juggles 5 to 7 balls, three bowling balls, and more. A highlight of their show is a globall routine on a dark stage with 8 or more balls appearing and disappearing throughout. To get a sense of Mark and Marlo’s show, you can check out their promo video.
Currently performing on Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line throughout the Caribbean. Mark and Marlo flew to New York City earlier this month to perform on the David Letterman Show. Not only did they both perform in the Stupid Human Tricks segment, they now hold the additional distinction of being the first husband and wife team to do so. To see their Playing Ping Pong Without a Table performance visit: http://youtu.be/Nc13VMWTswM
While Mark and Marlo enjoy performing on the cruise ships they continue to develop their show and are expanding into the world of corporate shows. Yes, life is looking up for this juggler!
Mark lives in Hudson, Ohio with his wife and performing partner Marlo. They can be found at www.comedyinhighdefinition.com.