Arts

PA’s “Mad Chad Taylor Chainsaw Massacre”

The audience came to see him lose a limb, but they left in awe of Mad Chad Taylor. Juggling stun guns, knives and chain-saws, Taylor stunned the crowd in Tang on Saturday night with his dangerous acts, daring creativity and sometimes risqué sense of humor. After being introduced by Mike McDonagh ’09, Taylor, the night’s performer, rode out from backstage on a skateboard with a video camera recording the crowd’s reaction. After deciding that Phillips Academy’s response wasn’t enthusiastic enough, Taylor encouraged the crowd to be extra rowdy. He supplied one student with a “We Love U Chad” poster to hold up and even gave Brenna Liponis ’10 a pair of panties to throw at him. After redoing his video clip of the vastly more ebullient crowd, the performance finally started. The show began with Taylor juggling smaller objects like a phone, a pager and a skateboard: LA juggling, as he called it. Everything began to pick up when Taylor juggled three, then five tennis balls, while using his hat as a juggling prop and simultaneously riding a skateboard. All of his juggling tricks were done with a comedic spin, frequently including sexual innuendo that was sometimes successful and sometimes simply awkward. At one point, Taylor, a married father of a two-year-old daughter, was juggling three silicone breast implants—two of which, he claimed, belonged to an ex-girlfriend. The second half of the performance took a totally different turn. He turned the crowd’s adrenaline on when he started performing truly dangerous tricks. First, Taylor, who actually grew up wanting to be a teacher, juggled three 100,000-volt stun guns with triple spins. If he had caught the wrong side of one of these, he would have been severely electrocuted. The audience watched in excitement and horror while the stunts continued to get more and more dangerous. While on a unicycle at one point, Taylor juggled two large knives and an apple, which he would take a bite of while the knives were in midair. When asked if he considered what he does an art form, Taylor said, “Once you have the skill, you then have to be able to perform it—so it is just as much an art as theatre or music. In my art, the key to a great performance is to keep topping the previous trick and make the audience really excited about what they’re watching.” Taylor also played a few tricks on the audience: he pretended to dump a full carton of eggs onto B.J. Garry ’10, and got hit in the head with a ten pound lead shotput. Both the shotput and the eggs ended up being rubber, but they did not fail to scare the crowd. The people in the front row of Tang got the full experience. They could smell the gasoline from the chainsaws and see the electric waves in the stun guns. Dave Knapp ’10, who was front and center for the entire show, said, “Mad Chad was the most terrifying and exciting experience of my life.” Finally it was the moment everyone was waiting for: chainsaw juggling. First, he started with one revving, frighteningly functional chainsaw and two pink balls. As if that had not already blown the minds of the audience, he then upped the count to two chainsaws. For the most stoic attendees, who were still unimpressed, he then juggled three chainsaws. In his grand finale, Taylor juggled a chainsaw while precariously balancing on a skateboard, on top of a wooden wheel. Taylor surprisingly says he is not a risk taker in any other aspect of his life. Starting at the age of 14 on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Taylor perfected his art to share it with many groups of people; in this pursuit, he has performed on national television. At the conclusion of the Mad Chad Taylor Show, he made one thing very clear: do not ever try any of his tricks at home.