Koziatek can remember wanting to be a performer at the age of 4; at age 8, he asked his parents to sign him up for a magic workshop, but found himself in a juggling class instead. He didn't pick it up then, so he gave it another shot in college, and this time was able to master the craft. Other skills, like fire performances and stilt walking, he learned from fellow performers he met along the way.
"You can't be in 100 percent control to learn something new; you have to let go of some of that. Everybody makes mistakes, and it's about realizing you're going to make mistakes, and that is OK," Koziatek said. "My friend Josh has a saying that circus performers are the ones that never quit."
When Koziatek and his wife decided to train for the Lewis and Clark Marathon two years ago, he decided to sell ad space on his shirt and juggle throughout the race. He was able to raise money for a charity called the Micah Project in Honduras, which generated buzz in the local media and soon led to requests for entertainment, launching his current business.
Koziatek, now known locally as Juggling Jeff, brings his trademark wit and skill to events throughout St. Louis. He's popped up at the Shakespeare Festival, the Street Performers Competition at Westport Plaza, local news broadcasts, elementary schools, birthday parties, special events, the YMCA — pretty much anywhere people are gathered together to have fun. And whether it's a room filled with grownups, kids or a happy mix, if they're ready to be entertained, Juggling Jeff is eager to deliver.
"People want to sit back and relax and have a great time. That kind of a heart shines through, regardless of what age they are," Koziatek said. "Those are my favorite kind of shows."
In addition to his juggling show, Juggling Jeff also offers emcee services, a game show and a comedy stunt show called "Death by Tickle: Astounding Feats of Absurdity," which he performs with Oh My Gosh Josh Routh. For a unique experience, party hosts can also book Juggling Jeff for a "Surprise Comedy Waiter" performance.
"That's where I come to an event dressed up like the catering staff, and for the first 15 minutes I'm doing everything the catering staff is doing, and after that, after they've accepted me as part of the staff, then I start mixing it up, like refilling somebody's glass three or four feet in the air," Koziatek said. "One of my favorites was going out with a toothbrush and toothpaste and asking if anyone wanted to brush their teeth because we're a full-service catering business."
Koziatek has also provided fun, informative public health campaigns for organizations like the American Diabetes Association and Delta Dental of Missouri's "Land of Smiles." While Koziatek provides a variety of entertainment, one common thread runs throughout his shows: He puts his audience in the spotlight, a technique he learned from the sultan of late-night comedy.
"The reason Johnny Carson was such a good a host was that he set his guests up to give the punch line," Koziatek explained. "I try to give my volunteers or my audience the chance to give the laugh line - even if it means I'm the butt of the joke."
Koziatek enjoys giving audience members a moment in the limelight, and the audience benefits from having a unique experience at each performance; since they lead the show, no two shows are ever quite the same.
"I hope that people allow themselves to relax, enjoy each other's company and just have a good time," Koziatek says. "That's important. You really need to do that once in a while."
To bring Juggling Jeff to your next event or to find out where he might be turning up next, call 314-852-1134, like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@JugglingJeff).
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