In the 1980s, after performing on an HBO “Young Comedians” special, juggler Michael Davis emerged from the world of “variety” acts to become nearly omnipresent on television — the most famous juggler in America not named Jillette or Karamazov.
Davis was the only juggler ever booked on “Saturday Night Live,” which he did six times. He also made two “Late Night with David Letterman” appearances, did a Ford’s Theater gala with Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill in the audience, and toured in “Sugar Babies” with Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney. I saw Davis do his stuff in person at the Universal Amphitheater as one of the many performers at the first Comic Relief concert in March, 1986.
Davis also did four spots on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” I believe this is the first one, from 1984.
Pay attention to two things. One is how patiently Davis performed — lots of pauses for comedic effect, no rushing the patter to get to the next bit. The other is the moment when you can hear Carson laugh loudly (after the toy decapitation), the sure sign to the audience in the studio and at home that we were watching an act that got the master’s approval.