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March 08, 2007




I found the first more beautiful, to my taste.

Still, objectively, this does establish the artistic spirit within humanity, over every other animal.



I think the derivative element is part of the point, of course. Garfield is explicitly not going for mind-blowing creativity here, but to one-up (or two-up) Bliss at his own game, as it were.

One way in which Bliss's performance is purer juggling, I think, is that AFAICT Bliss (a) keeps the balls always in motion and (b) never has more than one ball in one hand at a time.

Garfield sometimes catches the balls and holds onto them (at one point he's holding all five balls for several seconds), and he sometimes essentially treats two balls as one, throwing and catching two balls at once with one hand. That's impressive to be sure, but it's a little less "pure."

OTOH, it does seem to me that as the difficulty level ramps up, exactly the same expectations don't quite apply. Nailing a quadruple lutz at all is really impressive, even if a double or a triple might be cleaner and more perfect.

Ed Peters

Little men like me don't debate which angel is greater, even if GOd knows. I stand in silent awe of both.

Paul H

One thing I noticed is that the applause on this one seems to be "canned" rather than genuine. In fact, it sounds like they simply used the soundtrack from the other video (the one you posted yesterday).

My vote goes to the first video you posted, mainly for two reasons:

1. The first one is more original; the second one is obviously inspired by the first one.

2. The first one was performed in front of an audience, meaning the the juggler had to get it right on the first take. On the other hand, the second juggler apparently had the option of performing as many takes as he wanted, in order to get it right, since there doesn't appear to be a live audience.


My husband has been a student of juggling since before we were married (nearly 28 years ago -- although how that can be, I don't understand because I'm only 29 -- but I digress). Anywho, he was impressed with Chris Bliss -- elegant artistry. When he saw the second juggler, he was amazed. Jumping from three balls to five is no easy feat, and there wasn't a misstep/dropped ball in sight. My husband STILL hasn't mastered juggling five balls, let alone adding choreography.

So, for originality I vote for Chris Bills. For sheer skill, the second guy wins.


I thought Chris Bliss' performance was better in time with the music.


Apparently, Jason Garfield is a member of the World Federation of Jugglers:


I still like Bliss's performance better. More entertaining.


Bliss was beautiful, the other guy impressive, but I'd vote for the beautiful as being overall more artistic. The 2nd guy had too much of the 'Oh yeah? watch THIS' about him.


That was AMAZING!

With his 5-ball juggling, twisting-n-turning, spinning-n-foot tossing, all choreographed to music; it appeared quite impressive!

Still, I would've preferred that he choreographed the juggling act to a different tune, which, along with other elements, made it seem quite derivative.

Though, the medley effect of this popular Beatles tune is not lost on me.

But if he used, say, Revolution --

Just Imagine all the 5-ball juggling, twisting-n-turning, spinning-n-foot tossing, all-choreographed-to-music effect that would produce!?!?!

Especially given the nature of the very start of that music!


OK, I don’t' want to be a wet blanket and assume dishonesty, but…

One of the impressive things about Bliss performance was that he did some complex, choreographed juggling for nearly 4 and ½ minutes non-stop (and as others have pointed out, he never stops moving the balls). No question about that. He was in front of an audience, and the camera angle changes can be explained by having a professional ‘studio/theater.’

In the second video, not only did the juggler have the option to do many takes, but seems to me that he almost certainly did. He’s in a gym, no audience, and I counted at least 40 changes in the camera position in the first 2 minutes alone (none of which lasted more than maybe 10 seconds max), and encompassing at least 5 different camera angles. When the camera position changed, it was very abrupt and the editing is even choppy in some spots.

Unless he was in a professional studio with maybe 4 cameras that they could switch between at the push of a button (i.e. as Chris Bliss was), then what we are really seeing is a patched together sequence of small video pieces where he starts and stops as the camera is moved around the Gym.

I think if you watch closely, that’s almost certainly what’s going on. That being the case, Chris Bliss’ performance is VASTLY superior by almost any measure.

Some Day

Is it not:

De gustibus non est disputandum

and not De gustibus disputandum est

Ed Peters

Someday. right.


Are we sure that it's real at all?


My vote goes with Bliss for sheer artistry, not to mention doing it in front of a huge audience. It was less about himself - I don't think Garfield cared about making something beautiful so much as impressive. Intent goes a long way.


I don't know 'bout that human thing, man. My cat Boschetto (he's named for St. John Bosco who was also a juggler, acrobat, etc.) is pretty good and juggling toy mice. Fer schizzle!

Just sayin'.


Actually (I guess because of the hair style), I thought the guy juggling here was Jared himself! ;^)


Jason has something to say about his video.


The reason I liked Chris Bliss'
1. You could tell he enjoyed what he was doing
2. It was simple
3. He kept to the beat...hand/ball motion (notice other guy...garfield didn't or couldn't with that many balls)
4. He was singing with the song in places :)

The reason I didn't like Garfield's performance
1. It was a purely one-up show...I can do it with more balls...nay..nay...garbage.
2. He TOOK Chris' auduence and added it HIS video in the end..tacky
3. His facial expression even seemed to be mocking Chris and his movements...

Jimmy, we also went to Garfield's other videos and watched them and the man has a lot of talent...he just needs to keep his trap closed. He had like a 3 minute tirade on what IS juggling and what ISN't stuff.


One more thing our son pointed out...Chris Bliss seems to be dancing with the balls...or maybe getting the balls to dance.

The other guy is juggling.

Chris Bliss is entertaining...

The other guy is an impressive showoff.

Jimmy Akin

Is it not:

De gustibus non est disputandum

and not De gustibus disputandum est

Posted by: Some Day | Mar 8, 2007 2:03:27 PM

Someday. right.

Posted by: Ed Peters | Mar 8, 2007 2:18:15 PM

"De gustibus *non* disputandum est" (or "est disputandum") is the standard saying.

But then Jimmy might have been deliberately deleting the "non" to make a pun or something. To quote Jimminey Cricket, "Let the context be your guide."


Esau: Nope, unfortunately not. All I can do is flip and kick and stuff. My wife, though; SHE's the juggler in the family. If only we had to space for her to teach me.


Some Day

I guessed that, just making sure I got it right.

Tom P

Chris Bliss, hands down. Fluid and elegant ball control, his choreography followed the mood and rhythm of the music very well, the whole thing was done in one take in front of a live audience, and he looked like he really loved doing it.

Garfield's a great juggler, but in musical terms he looked to me like a Jay Jay French to Bliss's Andre Segovia. He was completely outclassed.


49 seconds into the "show"...he messes up...but who's being picky....

Mary Kay

am I really out of the loop if I hadn't heard of either one before this? They were both enjoyable to watch.


Chris Bliss looks like he is making the music as he juggles.

Jeremy Garfield is explicitly trying to show up Chris Bliss. The video is even titled Bliss Diss.

Garfield has all kinds of talent while Bliss has all the showmanship.


I of course meant Jason Garfield. Might as well get his name right, right?


They're both very talented. I liked Chris Bliss's better though, only because I liked the way he almost seemed like he was conducting the music. His moves were very closely aligned to the details of what went on with the drums and guitars. Garfield juggled to the beat without as much attention to what was going on in the song.


Jason has something to say about his video.

What did he say? The video's no longer available.

Tim J.

I see Bliss's routine as superior, for reasons already mentioned by others.

Still cool, though.



Try copying and pasting the URL I provided above.

Elliot B

Something struck me funny: This Garfield fellow (especially in his apologia lecture on juggling and the Bliss Diss) prompted me to see him as the juggling world's James White. The shorn head, the beefy physique, the ego, the feigned surprise at people's reactions, the preening sensitivity, the voice, etc. I would have to say that significantly detracts from his entertainment value, for my tastes. //shivers//


After looking at the apology video, I wasn't thinking of Jason as someone trying to outdo the showmanship or choreography of Bliss. I took it as him showing what could be done beyond Bliss's routine which has apparently been around and very static for a long while.

In the video he never stated (and correct me if I'm wrong, I may have missed it) that he was showing better choreography. He touted others' abilities to do great choreography, but he never stated that he was that good at it.

If someone does the same old routine for years and gets tons of applause for it every time as if its never been seen before, I can understand those who might get annoyed that actually innovate.


This Garfield fellow (especially in his apologia lecture on juggling and the Bliss Diss) prompted me to see him as the juggling world's James White. The shorn head, the beefy physique, the ego, the feigned surprise at people's reactions, the preening sensitivity, the voice, etc. I would have to say that significantly detracts from his entertainment value, for my tastes.

What is hysterical about this is that I was skimming and started reading at the words "The shorn head..." thinking I was simply reading a description of Garfield, and when I got to the end I thought, "Oh my gosh, he's just like James White!"

And then I looked back and realized that Elliot was making the same point! Too funny. (Except in White's case it increases his entertainment value! ;-p)

But I still admire and appreciate Garfield's performance for what it is -- a very impressive display.


We went to the links provided for Jason Garfield and he has one where he EXPLAINS what IS juggling (what he does) and what is NOT (what Chris Bliss and others do to music). I think the link is still available under the Chris Bliss one. There is also one of Jason performing on stage and he has an old woman helping him.....he states that she would be able to catch the ball if she stopped looking at his as*. At that point, I stated he would be wearing that net! Very very tacky. And the old lady didn't seem like she was enjoying being made fun of either.


But I still admire and appreciate Garfield's performance for what it is -- a very impressive display.

I LIKE that -- separating ART from the ARTIST!

Quite so challenging at times!

Tim J.

Jason is similar to White in another way, as well;

Would I have ever heard of Jason if not for his slamming of Chris Bliss?

Would I have ever heard of James White if not for his slamming of the Catholic Church?

If not for the controversy caused by their attacks on others, these two would have to make their reputations on their own merits.


It's kind of like figure skating. Bliss takes the prize for musicality and artistry. While Garfield's performance may be more technically difficult, given the number of balls etc, it doesn't seem to flow as much as a seamless whole. If this were figure skating, Bliss would get the gold.

As scientific proof, my three and four year old boys were transfixed by Bliss' performance for the entire 4 minutes (ahhhh, 4 minutes of blessed silence in the house!) They lost interest in Garfield's after about 30 seconds. :)



While Garfield's performance may be more technically difficult, given the number of balls etc, it doesn't seem to flow as much as a seamless whole.

THAT is the BEST way to put it -- bar none!


I must disagree, when I watched Garfield's tape showing how Bliss' routine could be placed to about a half dozen songs and still look the same, it was like opening the magic box to see the magician scrunched up in it with the fake legs out the bottom.

Even if Garfield may be a bit of a jerk about it, he has a valid point. Giving up valid points for sentimentality and emotion is a dangerous road. Much less so in juggling than faith though.

I've been known to pick up three balls to juggle every now and then. That and the fact that I watched Garfield first and Bliss second colored my view.

Garfield's technical prowess absolutely floored me. 5 balls is very difficult just to start, and stuff he's doing with them is absolutely mindboggling. At least 5 times, I think I actually said the words "did he just do that?" aloud. I couldn't understand at first what the soundtrack was about, and where the cheering was coming from.

So, after that, the Bliss video kind of bored me. The fact is, Bliss isn't doing anything with the balls that most amateurs couldn't do. He doesn't really even push the range of what can be done with 3 balls (Mill's Mess, Boston Mess, three in one hand, etc). I probably couldn't go more than 2 minutes without dropping one, but then it isn't my day job. He is a showman, though. The music, the Ringo-impersonation-drummer-tourette's choreography, the name--it's all about the show. The juggling itself is flatly unimpressive.

The response filmed by Garfield (linked by DJ above) crystalizes this perfectly, but also is telling of himself. He is clearly frustrated at some level by the acceptance that Bliss gets as a "juggler". My guess is that Garfield's done amazing shows, only to have some old lady come up to him afterward saying, "oh, that was just wonderful! Why, you could be the next Chris Bliss! Oh, I remember when I saw his show... don't you just love him?" At which point Garfield has to actively restrain himself from throttling this poor soul.

The problem is, there is no response. You can only grin, bear it, and let it go. You can try to explain to this person that what they previously witnessed--and enjoyed!--was only slickly packaged hackery, but you'll only come off slightly cracked, somewhat uncharitable, and unable to take a compliment. Or you can bottle it all up like Garfield, then produce a thoroughly reasoned take-down of the perceived threat to your art. And make no mistake: his response video is painfully embarrassing for Bliss on several levels. But what does that accomplish? He's right, he proves it, but he's a smug a**.

The conflict between the successful, showboating hack and the gifted but frustrated purist in any given art is as cliched as it gets. If it comes to a head, there really is no winner. Both are flawed. When it occurs in what can at best be called a minor art, it is all the more prosaic.

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