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.

5-1/4" x 8-1/4" perfect bound; 156 pages; illustrated with photographs of interviewees; 1995; Published by Oasis Publishing