Performing in Japan: Amusing Anecdotes and Helpful Hints by Brad Zupp
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii September, 1994)
Brad Zupp is a twenty-five year old juggler who performed for two years with the
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus throughout the United States. He has
also performed extensively in Japan, beginning in 1990, including six extended
engagements of from four to six months' duration, mostly at theme parks. During Mr.
Zupp's sixth trip to Japan in October of 1993, where he spent a month at a theme park,
he began a diary of sorts that became this book.
While my own experience in Japan is not nearly as extensive as Mr. Zupp's, I have
performed there on occasion for the public and more frequently for magicians, which
lends me some perspective on Mr. Zupp's adventures. Any performer visiting Japan for
the first time will doubtless benefit from the modest investment this book requires. Not
every performer will experience what the author has, such as living on his own,
commuting via rail, and his enviable opportunity to gain some facility with the language.
(Mr. Zupp is not a fan of the cuisine, which in my own case is amongst my greatest
delights in visiting Japan, but since many Americans share his antipathy for Japanese
food, his advice here may be all the more useful to some.) But some portion of his tips,
anecdotes, and occasional ordeals are bound to pay dividends for anyone headed to
Mr. Zupp touches upon issues that face all young performers, particularly his concern
with comparing the value of his own work to that of others. Mr. Zupp's unselfconscious
narrative may remind many a seasoned performer of similar concerns in their own
youth, and I found his occasional naivete touching at times. Admittedly this is not great
literature—the author actually uses the word "icky" twice—but it is a sincere effort, with
unquestionably practical application. Simply produced, simply written—simply useful.