“Mad Chad” talks Chainsaws

Matt Ciepielowski

Mad Chad Taylor kept students and parents on the edge of their seats last Saturday night with his one-of-a-kind juggling routine. He juggled everything from tasers to silicone breast implants to chainsaws. Afterwards, he sat down for a quick question and answer session.

Q: How and why did you start juggling?
A: I learned to juggle when I was a teenager. For Christmas I got a book called “Juggling for the Complete Klutz.” It’s a humorous instructional book that comes with three beanbags and it just teaches the basics of juggling. And I just learned from that and I had so much fun juggling that I just kept practicing and practicing and wanting to learn one more trick and one more trick, and I got sort of obsessed with it actually.

Q: When did you start juggling professionally?
A: Well shortly after that, I had a friend a friend of mine and we went down to the Venice Street boardwalk where we saw the street performers and we just put a 5 minute show together when we were 14 years old and we went out and started doing street shows and, you know, we didn’t make a lot of money at first, but we just had a fun time doing it. And then we got better and better and started being offered paid gigs and stuff, and it just sort of went from there.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your world record?
A: I had a record for chainsaw juggling. What happened was, five years ago I did a television show in Finland and then the TV show from Finland called me back a while later saying some guy from Finland saw my act and started juggling chainsaws and set a world record for it, because there was no record previously, so this guy went on the same TV show and did like 55 catches and said ‘that’s a world record.’ And there was no category for it. So the producer said “we’ll hire you to come back and fly you back over if you want to regain the record,” and I said “heck ya!” So I went, and for the record it’s how long you juggle the chainsaws, because they’re heavy, so you can only last so long, so it’s how long you can successfully catch them. I did 78 catches. Some guy just beat me; I think he was from Portland, Oregon. He got 84 throws. So I’m going to attempt to regain it. In my backyard at home, I’ve gotten 102 throws. So now it’s just a matter of getting that many catches authenticated.

Q: Speaking of chainsaw juggling, how did that begin, and were you nervous when you started?
A: Oh, I was very nervous when I first juggled chainsaws. It was for a Miller Lite beer commercial, which doesn’t make sense, because it’s like, ‘let’s drink beer and juggle chainsaws.’ I don’t know what they were thinking. But they offered me a whole bunch of money, it was a national commercial, I got my Screen Actors’ Guild card for doing it. But I had ten days to learn how to juggle one chainsaw with two balls. I practiced in the park by my house. The first time I turned my chainsaw on, somebody called the police on me. So the cops showed up and they thought there was a crazy guy in the park. I explained to them what I was doing, and they said, “well I don’t think it’s against the law, in fact, we wanna see you do it.” So they stuck around and watched me for a while. I finally learned it and I went to do the commercial, and the funniest part was that when I was putting fuel in the chainsaw and getting ready to go, the director saw me and said, “what are you doing?” I said that I heard my shot was next and I’m getting ready to go. He looks up at me like I’m totally crazy and says, “you don’t have to turn it on, we’ll just put a sound effect on over it later when we edit.” I was like, “oh no!” They wouldn’t even let me turn it on because they were worried about insurance. But it was a new thing for the show. People love to watch you to stupid things. The stupider it is, the more people show up, so I figured I’d better put chainsaw juggling in my act.

Q: How has your acting career been since then?
The majority of the acting I’ve done is in commercials. I’ve done a ton of them over the years, sometimes juggling and sometimes just as an actor… I had a lead role in a small independent film that never really went anywhere and I had a small part in Spiderman III. That was the most notable movie I was in. I played a bartender in the jazz club scene.
A: Could you tell me a little bit about the independent film you directed, “Buskers”?
It’s a documentary all about street performers. It takes a very specific kind of person to become a street performer. So I just thought it would be an interesting subject. I interviewed over a hundred performers in 25 cities in eight countries around the world over like, 7 years. We finished it and just had a screening at the Coney Island Film Festival. It’ll be available for sale in probably a couple months.

Q: During your act you mentioned that people should support live entertainment. Why do you think that’s important?
A: Live entertainment brings people together like no other entertainment does. Because if you go to the movies, ya it brings people together because you’re all laughing at the same things or booing at the same things and you’re interacting in that way with each other. But with a live show, you never know what’s gonna happen. Things are totally spontaneous. Things can go wrong, things can change based on the audience. It’s a great way for people to come together and bond and it gives the artist a place to perform. Being in front of an audience is the best way to nurture an artist. To only perform your music or your comedy in a studio won’t help you grow.