The Passing Zone
|The Passing Zone|
Jon Wee (Left) and Owen Morse (Right) in an undated publicity photo
|Known for||Comedy, Juggling|
The Passing Zone is an American comedy-juggling duo. Jon Wee, of Minnesota, and Owen Morse, of California, met at a juggling convention in Northern California in 1986 and decided two years later to team up. Since then, The Passing Zone has won 18 gold medals from the International Jugglers' Association, holds five Guinness World Records, was one of the ten finalists during the debut season of NBC's America's Got Talent, and has entertained at the Royal Command Performance for England's Prince Charles The Passing Zone regularly performs for some of the top corporations in the United States while stressing the importance and benefits of teamwork.
Jonathan Wee is one of three children of David and Karen Wee and was raised in Northfield, Minnesota. A performer since age 14, Wee preferred to juggle with partners. He performed with two childhood friends, Three of Clubs, and worked the Minnesota Renaissance Fair. Wee admits that "We were really pretty bad," although in the end "they thought, 'we'll let them in.'" Owen Morse, of Tustin, California, began performing in high school, crafted a 15-minute-long, sports-themed routine set to music, and eventually earned work through an agency in Hollywood, playing the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach while in high school and working at Disneyland while in college.
A mutual friend introduced Wee and Morse at a jugglers' convention in San Jose, California, and they spent the next year corresponding regularly. The two met again at the International Jugglers Association convention in Akron, Ohio, and decided to pair up for the Teams Championships in Denver, Colorado, in 1988. Afterwards, Wee elected to move to Southern California after he graduated from Luther College that spring. Morse graduated one year later from University of California, Irvine. By the end of 2006, Morse was living in Tustin with his wife and their two daughters while Wee lived in Hermosa Beach with his wife and their son and daughter.
Wee and Morse spent several years honing their act at comedy clubs, trade shows and colleges. They were the first jugglers to pass eleven clubs between them. In addition, their routines have been seen as innovated, creating performances such as "The Chainsaw Ballet" (performed to The Blue Danube) and "people juggling" (featuring three audience members hanging from special rigging). All in all The Passing Zone has won 18 gold medals from the International Jugglers' Association and holds five Guinness World Records. They also performed at the Royal Command Performance for England's Prince Charles, who referenced the act as "very clever, although I'm glad I wasn't sitting in the front row!"
The Passing Zone has performed during half-time shows at NBA, CBA and NCAA sporting events. Wee and Morse have been featured on such television programs as Comic Strip Live, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (twice), Donny & Marie and Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. They were hired as juggling stand-ins for Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd in The Addams Family (1991). The men also became popular at corporate events, where they would demonstrate the concept of teamwork by bringing executives and employees to the stage as part of their act. They have performed to stress the value of teamwork for organizations such as Boeing, Deloitte and Touche, Hewlett-Packard, Mattel and the United States Army.
America's Got Talent, 2006
The Passing Zone made its first appearance during the third week of America's Got Talent, as part of the Chicago auditions aired on July 5, 2006. Wee bounced a rubber (prop) bowling ball off of Morse's face ("to make sure you're paying attention"), then climbed onto Morse's shoulders while Morse balanced on a Rola Bola long enough for the duo to juggle a total of six flaming torches in unison. The judges' assessments were not unanimous; David Hasselhoff rejected them ("That's the act?!") while Brandy and Piers Morgan wanted to see more.
Wee and Morse replicated "people juggling" for the semi-finals on August 2, 2006, winning over the audience and Hasselhoff ("I think I have just gotten out of 'I Hate Jugglers Anonymous'. I thought that was fantastic!"). One of ten acts to return for the finals two weeks later, The Passing Zone brought Hasselhoff to the stage and, as all three men wore torches atop construction helmets (and with Hasselhoff holding four spinning plates), Wee and Morse passed sickles back and forth around him. Though Morgan thought they had done exceptionally well, The Passing Zone finished in the bottom five when the results of the viewers' vote were announced on August 17, 2006.
|1991||The Addams Family||Gomez and Fester Addams as jugglers||Stand-ins for Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd|
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- "America's Got Talent > Episode 110 Recap". nbc.com. Retrieved September 15, 2006.[dead link]