Leslie and Jay Cady have been juggling for more than three decades. They not only juggle bowling pins, balls, and hats, but they juggle a marriage and two children.
Jay and Leslie will be in Manhattan at the Manhattan Arts Center on May 19 for a workshop in which they will show families how to juggle and mime. They’ll also do a few comedy skits as part of their Laughing Matters workshop.
Leslie and Jay met in 1980, the first year they started working together. They have been performing together almost exclusively since 1984,
“We were rookie members of a company in Kansas City,” Leslie said.
“Jay’s roommate taught me how to juggle for the company called Mime Walk and then we became romantic and started dating and then we got married.”
Even though the long hours together might be a drain on other couples, Jay and Leslie have found their time to be stress-free.
“We’re on the same team,” Jay said. “We were blessed that we get along extremely well.”
“We do a little bickering on stage, and that’s the only place we bicker,” Leslie said.
When they’re off-stage, Leslie and Jay have different interests, and those interests allow them some alone time.
Even when the couple had their children, there was not any time for rest or bickering.
Soon after she gave birth to her two daughters, Leslie was back on-stage.
“We couldn’t afford to stop (performing),” Leslie said.
Dad wrote his two daughters in to the show.
“They were coming to the shows anyway,” Leslie said. “If they wanted to participate and be part of the show, they had a role. If they didn’t want to, we could do it without them.”
Despite the challenges faced by having two children on the road for long car rides, Jay described the experience as “a lot of fun to have them along…and something we really enjoyed doing.”
One of their daughters recently moved to Rhode Island to be a part of a stage company with a few of her friends, Leslie said.
Performance has always been a part of Leslie and Jay’s life. Both were brought up in fairly creative households. Leslie was always involved in theater, behind the scenes. Jay always thought of performing as a career, but “I don’t think either one of us would have won the ‘most likely to be a performer’ award in high school.”
Soon after getting married in 1984, Jay and Leslie were among 60 performers chosen to attend a workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by French actor and mime Marcel Marceau. It was the first time Marceau had performed in America. Stage presence was the most important lesson they took away from Marceau’s workshop.
“He was very good at what he called a comedy of movement,” Leslie said. She described that as “taking command of the situation and being funny without pushing too hard.”
Inspired by the comedic duos of Burns and Allen and the Smothers Brothers, Leslie and Jay have a variety of skits to keep the audience entertained.
Jay is the idea man of the ensemble, while Leslie serves as the critic, letting Jay know which of his ideas are good and bad. In order to keep their comedy different, the pair keeps a file of all of their performances. There are a few signature pieces that they perform at every workshop, but for the most part they will mix in a few new skits.
Leslie and Jay started as silent performers before moving to both silent and talking skits. Leslie’s move to talking was hard for Jay to cope with.
“We had a performer come and watch us and he told us to let Leslie talk more,” Jay said. “At first I got really frustrated, because I couldn’t get a word in edge-wise. But then I saw a tape and I started playing up that frustration on stage.
Unlike their off-stage personalities, Jay and Leslie switch it up while on-stage. Leslie’s character on-stage is much goofier than she is in real-life and Jay plays someone who looks at the world concretely. Because of their different styles, plans tend to go awry, which creates the natural comedy of their performance.
During this upcoming summer, Leslie and Jay will travel to 57 different library shows, including again to Manhattan at the Manhattan Public Library in July.
Even after more than 6,000 performances in 33 countries, Jay and Leslie see no reason for slowing down any time soon.
“We really like what we do,” Leslie said.