Monday, March 5, 2007

Harley Newman - The Professional Lunatic!

Harley Newman, The Professional Lunatic, came to perform right here at Manhattanville on February 20th. A significant number of students made their way to the Pub to watch him perform. The show started with a burst of flames. This part of his performance was prevalent on the posters hung around campus.

There was a slight hitch with Harley making a fireball, namely a low ceiling and a desire not to light the building on fire. To perform the stunt, he had to step outside as the audience watched by looking out the window. After blowing a fireball, Harley continued to warm up the crowed by stopping a fan using only his tongue.

Changing things up a bit, he got ready to juggle using a bowling ball, a sword, and a bottle of water. Just as he was getting set, he hurled the bowling ball at someone sitting in the front row. Not to worry, the bowling ball was a fake and no harm came to any member of the audience. After having a bit more fun with them, Harley took off his shoes and socks and climbed a staircase of swords (blades face up).

After grabbing another volunteer from the crowd, Harley played a sort of follow- the-leader using a wooden board and a screw-like implement. When they were done, Harley took a woman's high-heeled shoe (which he brought with him) and shoved the spike from the heel up his nose. After taking it out, he licked it. In an apparent attempt to outdo himself, Harley then took a power drill and shoved it up his nose while it was on. After removing the drill, he licked it just as he had the high heel spike. When he finished with that stunt, he took a wooden board and placed his tongue on it. Using a stapler, he apparently stapled it to the board. This, just like the bowling ball trick, was a ruse. Getting back to some real stunts, Harley asked for a couple to help him out on stage. The couple secured him in a straightjacket and then with a rope of significant length. Once they were done, he had to free himself. To do this, Harley slipped off his shoes and then shimmied part of the rope off. He then slipped his arms to the front to take off the rest of the rope before unhooking a strap. Harley was then able to slide, with some understandable difficulty, the straightjacket over his head.

For his next stunt yet another audience member was selected from the crowd. Harley set three fur traps (which work by setting off a pressure sensor in the center, designed to snap closed holding what ever triggered it) on a table. The audience member took a rather large carrot and used it to set off two of the traps to show their power as they broke the carrots. To set off the third trap, Harley used his fingers.

Moving on, Harley took a plunger and stuck it down his throat, then proceeded to lick a sword and stick that down his throat. In the next part of the show, despite the fact that I did not volunteer, (though I really didn't mind) I became involved.

To perform his next trick, he pulled out a paper bag and two handkerchiefs, one green and one red. Ensuring that there was nothing "funny" with the handkerchiefs were two audience members (myself being one of them). I can personally attest that there was nothing unusual about the handkerchiefs I was given to check over. Both handkerchiefs were then put into the bag. He then blew up the bag and popped it causing the red handkerchief to ‘magically’ turn green and the green handkerchief to ‘magically’ turned red. This performance was obviously a joke, but it had its desired effect on the crowed.

Another audience member was brought up on stage for his next set of stunts. After blindfolding the participant and scaring her half to death with a sword, the real stunt began. Harley set the audience member on his shoulders before getting on a unicycle. Since he was blindfolded, Harley had to rely on the screams of his passenger to know when to stop before he hit the staircase of swords. The stunt, of course, went as planned. It was especially impressive given the low ceiling, which appeared to add some difficulty to the stunt.

Performing his next stunt required a bed of nails on the floor. Harley moved through the crowd, pulling seven people up on stage with him. After lying down on the bed of nails, he instructed five of the new audience members to stand on him on one at a time (meaning that at one point five people were standing on him).

Outdoing himself yet again, Harley pulled out a bed of only four nails. After taking off his shirt and belt, he proceeded to lie down on it. Next, he took out two fish hooks which were attached with string to a cup. Harley attached the hooks to his eyelids, filled the cup with water, then swung it around with his head.

For his final stunt, Harley took out yet another bed, this one being a board with a singular nail through it, and lay on top. This stunt ended the show, which lasted slightly over an hour. Afterwards, Harley remained in the pub and allowed people to lay down on the original bed of nails. Overall, it was a good show that seemed to be well received by all who came to watch. If he comes back to Manhattanville in the future, you should make it a point to attend.

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