Happiness Success! Interviews With Performers About Fame, Fortune And Happiness by Brad Zupp
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii October, 2005)
Brad Zupp is a young juggler and the author of last year's Performing In Japan
(reviewed Genii , September 1994). In this book, he interviews 13 individuals about their
lives as professional variety performers, success, and other advice for young aspirants.
Four of the interviews concern magicians: Jeff McBride, David Ginn, and two young
unknowns, David Garrity and Stephen Sloan. Of the remaining personalities, five are
clowns, three are jugglers, and one is a circus ringmaster. "Frosty" Little is a well-known
clown among Ringling Brothers fans, and Lottie Brunn is a legendary juggler, now
retired (and who provides one of the better interviews). The remaining names will likely
be unknown to most readers, due either to their particular specialties, or the fact that
many are local and/or young performers.
I confess I'm not entirely certain what the purpose of this book is. I can't imagine why I
would want to seek advice from a youth who is barely starting out on a career in show
business. Perhaps there's some comfort here for younger readers who find their own
struggles echoed in these pages; it's said that misery loves company, although I remain
unconvinced of the truth of that particular bromide. With no slight intended to any of
Mr. Zupp's subjects, it seems to me that Jugglers who don't know who the magicians are
and magicians who don't know who the jugglers are may find themselves less than
fascinated by their respective reminiscences. The focus seems to be on clowns, more or less, and while I confess a certain academic and even artistic interest in the field, I
would be far more interested to read interviews—and perhaps more insightful and
sophisticated ones at that— with the likes of Avner Eisenberg, Bill Irwin, or Fred Hoyle.
Or perhaps it's the pervasive "Gee whizness" of this work, with its various homages to
family, god, and/or Ringling Brothers Clown College, that rendered me increasingly
glassy-eyed and slack-jawed. If you're somewhere in your teens, and lay awake at night
dreaming of being a clown, you might love this book. However, I confess that I found
much of its contents to be simply inane.