Juggler Lindsay Benner and hypnotist Matt Grisham brought the circus to Whitworth last Friday. ASWU Activities coordinator Kevin Gleim chose the two acts for a pre-packing rally for the Million Meals program, which took place last Saturday. “In my budget I have a certain amount of money I can use for the end of year entertainment,” Gleim said. “Since it’s the day before Million Meals I saw an opportunity to create awareness for the program.”
Gleim said that he hoped to encourage students to show up to the Million Meals packing event.
Because not enough volunteers had signed up to pack meals at the Million Meals event, the performances were meant to encourage students to participate in the packing, Gleim said.
Earlier in the year, Gleim sent out a campus-wide survey asking what type of entertainment students wanted to see. A hypnotist was the highest rated of the options. The decision to bring in a juggler was inspired by the success of the juggler that was brought in during the beginning of the year for freshman orientation.
Gleim saw Benner at an entertainment conference he attended earlier in the year.
“I knew that she was really good, so that’s why I brought her,” Gleim said. “And I just wanted smaller, really entertaining events.”
Dressed in a bright red ruby dress and a large pearl necklace, Benner demanded the audience’s attention during dinner at Sodexo when she pulled out volunteers from the crowd.
“[My character is] like if Charlie Chaplin and Lucille Ball had a love-child that juggled,” Benner said.
Benner danced, juggled and sang her way through her variety show. She told a story using a volunteer from the audience, taking him through the stages of being in a “relationship” with her, from the first date to domestic bliss, all the way to the bitter separation. She paused the story every now and then to perform juggling acts with balls and knives.
“I love it when I feel like I’ve found some sort of joke that I haven’t found before,” Benner said. “I think it’s generally when I feel like there’s groove between me and the audience; those are my favorite moments.”
Much of Benner’s show depends on the audience’s reactions and participation, but Benner said she still must work to involve the audience.
“Some audiences are harder than others,” Benner said. “When I’m connecting with my audience the show really works.”
Benner has been performing at smaller colleges and organizations for the past two years ,trying to break away from street performing.
“I wanted to do something where people were sitting and ready and I didn’t have to hustle quite so much,” Benner said. “And I knew exactly what my paycheck was going to be.”
Benner said she enjoys playing at smaller venues such as Whitworth.
“You never know what you’re going to be walking into,” Benner said. “Sometimes I’m in really cool little theaters, sometimes I’m in classrooms and sometimes I’m in lobbies.”
Grisham, an award-winning traveling magician and hypnotist, performed later that night in the MPR.
Several students volunteered to be hypnotized by Grisham, and were made to perform skits such as an awkward middle school dance, a runway routine and delivering a baby.
Grisham’s show was met with laughter and applause. Once it was over, students posed for pictures with Grisham and he answered questions about hypnotism and his career.