The Showman: Jimmy Slonina

Cirque performer and multifaceted entertainer

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

ACHIEVEMENTS Slonina found his life’s calling as a kid watching Three’s Company and Benny Hill on television. “I would hear the studio audience laugh, and I thought: ‘That’s what I wanna do. I wanna make you laugh.’” These days, he provides those laughs in Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana, after being part of the original cast of Le Rêve and performing in Cirque’s Kooza. Additionally, Slonina has toured with Pink and created viral lip-synch videos seen by millions. “No matter where you’re from, Vegas is a culture shock,” the Chicago native says. “It’s such a weird, circus kind of town.” Just the place for a clown.

METHOD TO HIS MADNESS Don’t let Slonina’s onstage anarchism fool you: “I’m really a technical comedian,” he says. “I treat it like a mathematical problem. There’s timing and intensity and volume, and you put them together and make the right mix. … Who are you playing for? How many people are there? Is it an intimate house or a massive house? Is it a Vegas audience or a New York audience? I kind of add, subtract and work it out.” And if he does the math right, it equals laughter.

COURT JESTER TO ROCK ROYALTY In 2013, Slonina landed the role of emcee on Pink’s The Truth About Love tour without even auditioning, earning the gig based on his résumé and those lip-synch videos. “I went from performing for 1,800 people a night to 18,000,” he says. “At first, it was daunting: ‘Hey I’m coming out here to try to entertain you while Pink changes her costume. I’m really sorry, but she made me do this,’” he recalls. “We were trying to find what the character was, and how do I fit into this crazy world she’s creating for her concert? But about 20 shows in, we hit our groove.” What did he take away from the experience? “I grew a huge set of balls—everybody in every seat saw my huge balls.”

FOR HIS NEXT TRICK Slonina will be bringing the laughs to Zarkana for the rest of 2015, but that doesn’t rule out other projects. “Having a show that keeps me at home will afford me a little more creative openness that I’ve been lacking,” he says. He looks forward to making more Web videos and collaborating with other Las Vegas artists, having just finished a short film with fellow Strip moonlighter Amos Glick. “There are a lot of people in town who are writing and putting out great stuff, developing new ideas,” Slonina says. “I’m keeping my brilliant friends close.”

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