Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Chris Bliss juggling meme

One of the pleasures of viewing a viral video is to see all the spinoff videas that play upon the same concepts as the original video. Not only does the video spread like a disease (the "viral" aspect) but the idea itself spreads through people's creativity. A great example stems from Chris Bliss's video where he's juggling to a Beatles song. The song is "Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End" which is the last song on their last album (known for its last lyric "the love you take is equal to the love you make". The video first popped up in 2006 and within 40 days had 20,000,000 views. I first saw this video yesterday and had never heard of it it before.

Apparently when the video came out it caused quite a stir among jugglers who weren't impressed by Bliss's use of just three balls and no fancy technical tricks. So, for instance, there's this "Chris Bliss Diss" video by juggler Jason Garfinkel which uses five balls and a variety of tricks.

This video also immediately went viral, racking up a few million views. I appreciate the technical virtuousity but I prefer (slightly) the Chris Bliss video only because he makes it more like a dance rather than just a technical feat. I like how his hands move throughout the song. Its like romance versus pornography. One thing I like in the Diss video is that he directly lifts the song from the Bliss video so you get all the audience reaction, which is funny considering Garfinkel is in an empty gym.

Interesting to note that Garfinkel is also quite possibly a better juggling trainer than performer. Here's a video of nine year old Vova Galchenko (note also his sister doing cartwheels). The video was originally shot in 1997 and Vova didn't begin training with Garfield until 2004.

Now here's a video of Vova and sister, Olga, 10 years later. I like Olga's quote, "we are genetically engineered to be the best jugglers in the world."

So to bring it full circle, rapper Fatboy Slim then challenged the internet to do a juggling video "like that chris bliss one" to his song "that old pair of jeans". Here's the Vova Galchenko version:

-James Altucher


Paul said...

For me, the original video's power stems from the contrast between the poignant music and the act of juggling. Usually juggling is accompanied by calliopes or organ grinders, so it has this silliness to it, but with the pathos of that Beatles' medley, it feels like some deep secret about the human condition is being revealed.

Brian said...

I fell in love with the Cris Bliss video when it first went viral. For people who grew up in the late 60's or early 70's, the 909 second Side 2 medley is holy sonic ground. To see someone interpret it in a way that is so heartfelt and original is extremely moving.

As an ok juggler myself, I am blown away by the fact that he never even comes CLOSE to making a blunder, either technically or choreographically. And as a member of a Beatles tribute band, I can never help but smile as to how cleverly his motions mimic the music.