Brian Rudo worked hard through high school and college to perfect his performing skills, even learning how to eat fire.
But it was the combination of his balance and juggling ability that earned Rudo, 21, of Reisterstown, the chance to try his luck on "The Extreme Gong Show $10,000 Tournament of Talent." The show will air live Tuesday on the Game Show Network.
To compete against the 10 other contestants for the cash prize, Rudo will simultaneously juggle machetes and jump rope while standing on a 2-foot-high rubber ball. He says that he learned to perfect the talents separately, then combined them for his unique act.
A novelty performer at weddings, birthday parties and bar mitzvahs, Rudo says that when he tells people what he does for a living, they generally get "this amazed look on their faces. They wonder if I'm serious or not, then they think it's cool." Having displayed his skills as a clown, juggler, fire-eater, balloon artist, stilt-walker and magician -- at places like the Baltimore Zoo and the MCI Center and as an Inner Harbor street performer -- Rudo is accustomed to such a reaction.
Though many people are amused by Rudo's career path, there are others who find it to be impractical. Rudo says that people often ask, "Why don't you get a real job?" However, with his entertainment company, All About Fun Productions, Rudo is reaping all the benefits of a real job. He says that he loves what he does, though "it's a tough career to pursue, because it goes against the norm."
Before he could begin his career, Rudo had to learn how to juggle. He did this with the help of members of the Baltimore Juggling Association while attending Franklin High School in Reisterstown.
He went on to beat out some of the very people who taught him to juggle when he won his spot as a finalist on the "Gong Show" tournament. He says he won because during the tryouts "I played to my crowd a lot" by seeking audience participation and doing his routine with no shirt.
With a new bachelor's degreee in recreation and leisure administration from York College of Pennsylvania, Rudo is prepared to remain an entertainer for as long as possible. "I'm just getting started," he says. "I hope to be doing this for another 10, 15, 20 years."
"The Extreme Gong Show $10,000 Tournament of Talent" airs live on the Game Show Network Tuesday at 8 p.m.