The Passing Zone is one of the most successful and sought- after comedy acts working today. This is their story.
Owen Morse and Jon Wee met in 1986 at a juggling convention and instantly knew they were destined to be a team. But they decided to graduate from college first. Which they both did. Rather than pursue careers in Economics and Psychology, they lit some torches, and started throwing stuff into the air. And things clicked. Two weeks after their first performance together they won the Silver Medal at the International Jugglers’ Association Teams Competition. The next year they won the Gold. That recognition earned an invitation to appear at the renowned Comedy and Magic Club in Los Angeles, where on their first night they were approached by the “Tonight Show” talent scout and booked for their first national television appearance in September 1990. Johnny Carson enjoyed them so much they were asked back less than a year later. Their first feature film followed, The Addams Family Movie, where Jon and Owen doubled for Gomez (Raul Julia) and Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) in the climactic Mamushka dagger-passing scene. More recently, they appeared in the award-winning comedy documentary, The Aristocrats.
The Passing Zone’s first London appearance was in the Royal Variety Performance at the Dominion Theatre, performing for Prince Charles and sharing the bill with Tony Bennett and Riverdance. They expanded their US national television audience by passing clubs over the heads of the Miss America Pageant contestants during the swimsuit competition, demonstrating almost inhuman concentration skills! Most recently, they were nalists on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” where they lost one million dollars to an 11-year-old. They were the highest-rated comedy act, and they eventually won the affection of David Hasselhoff who claimed to hate all jugglers.
Jon and Owen are known as much for their comedy as their juggling skills. They were featured twice on the gala stage at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and have opened for comedians Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Bob Ne- whart, Bob Hope, and Penn & Teller. Television appearances have included “Comic Strip Live,” “An Evening at The Improv,” “MADtv,” Penn & Teller’s “Sin City Spectacular,” “Steve Harvey’s Big Time,” and regular returns to NBC’s “Today.” And they were commentators on ESPN for their coverage of the World Juggling Federation competitions.
A year ago they were guest performers at The White House.
The Passing Zone has been awarded the Guinness World Records and 18 Gold Medals from the International Juggler’s Association. They were recently presented with that organiza- tion’s Award of Excellence, for “excellence in the art of juggling through professional performance,” which is the most presti- gious award in juggling (essentially the Juggling Hall of Fame), given to only thirteen acts worldwide since the organization’s inception.
They can often be seen doing entertainment and keynote speaking at corporate events, for which they are a natural. Their act is clean, so it offends no one. They appeal to all ages, and all walks of life, so whether their audience is a group of mechanical contractors, software engineers, hairdressers, or billionaire business leaders, they are always a hit. Not only do they entertain, but they customize their performances by juggling a company’s product, incorporating their slogans, and inspiring groups to be better teams.
In addition, The Passing Zone has become popular at theaters and performing arts centers, bringing their zany and some- times terrifying acts to communities all across the nation. Their most recent show, “Gravity Attacks!” is currently touring.
Jon and Owen reside in the greater Los Angeles area, where, when they are not throwing things, they spend as much time as possible with their families, and still manage to squeeze in hang gliding, mountain biking, and Guitar Hero, although not all at the same time.