By Caroline Fontein
The Energizer Bunny keeps going and going and so does Wally Eastwood. Every night, while bouncing around the stage, he can’t stop throwing items like bowling pins and top hats in the air and catching them. Sometimes, he doesn’t even use his hands. When it comes to ping pong balls Eastwood won’t need a paddle to launch them. Instead, he uses his mouth.
It sounds like a lot to juggle, but for Eastwood it’s all in a day’s work. He both hosts and performs in “V-The Ultimate Variety Show” at the Miracle Mile Shops adjacent to Planet Hollywood. Eastwood has been described as having “the fastest hands on Earth,” and anyone who sees him will agree.
Eastwood performs several different routines throughout the show, including playing Beethoven’s “Für Elise” by bouncing rubber balls on an electronic keyboard. Not only does he amaze, but Eastwood makes people laugh. His happy-go-lucky attitude paired with his self-deprecating humor is a winning combination.
Being able to perform as a specialty act on the Las Vegas Strip is a dream come true for Eastwood. When he was in his early teens, his mom took him to Vegas, and on their trip they saw several production shows. One of them was a revue at the old Stardust Hotel and Casino. The show featured several acts including the magic duo Siegfried and Roy and a juggler.
“I saw the juggler, and I told my mom that my dream was to one day perform in Las Vegas. That’s what really drove me to rehearse and push it for the next few years, extremely hard, until I could achieve that goal,” said Eastwood.
He started performing in Vegas in 1987 in “Splash” at the Riviera. He also performed in “Jubilee” at Bally’s and in the company’s sister show in Reno. He has been performing with “V The Ultimate Variety Show” since it opened.
Before Vegas, Eastwood performed in the circus, on cruise ships and as a featured act around the world. He grew up in a circus family and started his career as entertainer at a young age.
“As a kid I thought it was normal to wake up in a different city every day and open your door and see elephants walking around,” said Eastwood.
Everyone on his mom’s side of the family was a circus performer. Most of them were trapeze artists, including his mom. His dad had the opposite upbringing. He ran away to join the circus when he was in his early twenties. Eastwood’s dad worked selling popcorn, cotton candy and other things, also known as a candy butcher in circus lingo. His parents met in the circus, fell in love and Eastwood was born.
By the time Eastwood was 8 years old he was already performing as a solo act. His first routine was on the unicycle. After a bad fall and breaking his wrist, he decided to stay more grounded and took up juggling.
“For a kid in the circus it’s very similar to kids in a town where they go out, and they’ll choose a certain sport like soccer, baseball or go on a little league team. It’s the same thing for us, but instead of sports we pick acts,” said Eastwood.
Along with juggling he also tried his hand at trapeze and other circus acts, but juggling was his forte. Just like with a sport, juggling requires Eastwood to constantly train. When he first learned to juggle it took him more than 10 years to master his craft. Now he trains to maintain those skills. He also spends time fine tuning his skills as a comedian. Eastwood incorporates a lot of comedy into his act. As the show’s host he’s entertaining even when he’s not throwing something in the air.
“It’s so funny because I’ll do all that juggling, and then when people leave the show, people will 99 percent of the time come up to me and say, ‘You were so funny.’ They won’t even mention the juggling part,” joked Eastwood.