Lights flicker on each of the “Mad” and “Chad” suitcases placed apart on the stage. A man dressed in a black shirt and vest with blue sweatpants sprints out to the center of the platform grasping a chainsaw. He “accidently” flings it toward the crowd, but they are relieved when he snatches it back with a rope. He laughs satisfyingly as he jogs to the “Mad” suitcase to grab his next props.
When “Mad Chad” Taylor fired up three very real, very sharp and very functioning 15-pound chainsaws, audience member 13-year-old Rasheed Henderson would take no part in sitting in the front row as he rushed his way to the aisle. As the audience laughed, Taylor, also known as the Evel Knievel of comedy, tossed the running chainsaws above his head with no effort. After a couple rounds, he switched it up and weaved them strategically through his legs.
Dangerous? Yes. Could he have gone more dangerous? Yes. He closed the “Chad” suitcase, set a round plastic container on its rolling side and placed his skateboard opposite the wheels on top of the container. As he held the chainsaw, he balanced his feet on both ends of the skateboard, turned on the chainsaw and tossed it up, rotating it with two small pink balls.
He finally catches the objects, jumps off the skateboard without a sweat. The audience screams and Taylor thrusts a fist above his head.
Because of Student Affairs, chainsaw juggler Taylor was able to close family day by showing off his wild and dangerous stunts when he took the Potter Hall stage Sept. 10.
Taylor, who is from Santa Monica, Calif., learned to juggle chainsaws when he was asked to do it for a Miller Lite commercial. He practiced for a while, and he ended up surprising the director when he got on set.
“I learned it and once I got there to shoot it, they didn’t expect me to actually do it running—they were just going to put a sound effect over it later,” Taylor said. “They thought it was totally crazy.”
Chainsaws weren’t his first items to juggle, however. He had to start small. Once Guinness World Record holder Taylor was given a “learn to juggle” kit for Christmas when he was young, he couldn’t stay away from it.
“I started juggling in junior high,” Taylor said. “I was obsessed. I was literally practicing for four hours a day.”
While he jokes that he had way too much free time as a kid, it has paid off. He performed acts on Venice Beach and worked his way up to juggling on shows like “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and the TV series “Time Warp.” He has several videos on YouTube and has his own website www.madchadtaylor.com. He has been performing his acts for 12 years.
Although his main attraction is juggling chainsaws, Taylor’s act also consisted of juggling tricks mixed in with quick jokes, fake props, comical stories and a lot of jawing with the audience. He even had a segment for his show titled the “Audience Challenge” where people from the crowd voted on an object for Taylor to juggle with an egg and a shot put. A large purple purse was chosen, and Taylor had no problems as he hurled them in the air.
“The audience entertains me,” Taylor said.
Taylor feeds off his viewers’ reactions, especially when he bounces a fake shot put off his forehead, attempts and succeeds at juggling five tennis balls (three were glued together) and flings a dozen eggs into the crowd (only all the eggs were connected to each other and the carton by a string).
Student Pierce Karguth enjoyed the show and Taylor’s passion for shocking his audience with his clever tricks.
“I had many favorite parts, and most involved his crowd interaction,” Karguth said. “He captivated the whole audience. He made us laugh, and even gasp at the fake injuries that he would inflict on himself.”
Along with crowd interaction, he brought three people up to the stage, including Karguth and the young Henderson who sat in the front row, hoping to get chosen to help out Taylor. Henderson got what he wanted as he ran up on stage and aided Karguth in steadying an unusually tall unicycle for Taylor to hop on and eventually juggle knives while eating an apple.
Because Taylor’s act was for people of all ages, Student Life Director Isaiah Collier, who has seen Taylor perform before at the college he used to work at, believed he was a good fit for the end of family day.
“When I saw [Taylor] at Bradley University, I thought he would be a perfect cap at the end of family day,” Collier said.
Collier thought right. Henderson and Karguth both agreed they would go see Taylor in the future if they had the chance.
“[Taylor’s performance] was probably one of the best acts that Missouri Western has brought on the campus,” Karguth said. “It isn’t everyday you see a juggling comedian who likes to scare the audience with his dangerous stunts. I loved the show.”