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Amazing video: Stunning sights while juggling around Iceland

By Leif Petterson, for CNN
updated 3:13 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • POV video has gone viral on YouTube
  • Juggler Chris Smith says he was impressed by the beauty of Iceland
  • Smith has been juggling for 16 years

(CNN) -- That Chris Smith made an inspiring, gorgeous video of himself juggling around Iceland earlier this year, and that it's been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube, isn't all that surprising once you get to know him.

The 28-year-old from Lake Tahoe, California, has been juggling for 16 years, performing at Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers basketball games, in Las Vegas and abroad.

With his skills, it was a natural transition to audition for the Blue Man Group, which promptly cast him and sent him to perform in Blue Man theaters in New York, Chicago and Orlando, and as part of a national tour.

Now in Los Angeles to pursue acting and writing (in between Blue Man fill-in work), Smith is still basking in the midnight sun of Nordic stardom.

CNN: How has becoming an Internet sensation changed your life?

Chris Smith: I now only eat the finest meats and drink only vintage wines.

Hardly. Haha, nothing is different.

I just think it's a nice feeling that people took something positive away from the video. That maybe they got to see that juggling can be more than just a guy in a sequin tie performing as an opening act for a magician.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

CNNGo in Reykjavik

CNN: Is juggling a normal part of your travels or was this just a one-off bit of inspired fun?

Chris Smith: Juggling is a part of my life!

I always carry some beanbags around with me, but I juggle mostly just to relieve stress and have fun rather than perform.

Iceland was an exception.

I had just purchased a new camera and the idea struck me while I was driving around the country.

It was really supposed to be a fun way to show family and friends my trip, and to try an experiment with the camera.

CNN: Did your juggling attract attention from locals?

Chris Smith: For the most part in Iceland, I was on my own.

I did, however, have to accept the fact that I was some random dude juggling for goats in the middle of nowhere.

How to be a Reykjaviker

CNN: With all the juggling near cliffs and water, did you lose any balls while shooting the video?

Chris Smith: I can proudly say that I didn't lose a single one.

I definitely dropped them down hills and ravines, but I managed to get them back.

CNN: Juggling aside, what was the best part of Iceland?

Chris Smith: The dramatic beauty of the country.

I literally felt like I was on another planet.

Driving around, you get this feeling sometimes like you're the only one in the world who knows this place exists.

It kinda feels like a well-kept secret.

11 of Reykjavik's coolest bars

CNN: Has the popularity of this video inspired more travel/juggling projects?

Chris Smith: Absolutely!

I made another POV video immediately afterward that tracks my journey from Hawaii to New York City, which garnered quite a few strange looks, as there are a few more people in New York than the countryside of Iceland.

CNN: How long have you been juggling?

Chris Smith: Since I was 12.

I learned on a family road trip to Yellowstone (National Park) as our RV kept breaking down, stranding us in repair shops across America.

In a café in the middle of nowhere I found a book called "Juggling for the Complete Klutz" that came with three beanbags.

I begged my dad to get it for me, to which he said the magic words: "Yeah, right. Like you'll ever use that."

The gauntlet was thrown. I haven't stopped juggling since.

CNN: Do you perform live?

Chris Smith: I don't perform as often as I did in college, when I was known as The UCLA Juggler. You can Google image it for a laugh.

It was a position I pitched to the marching band director as a potential "alternate option" to a baton twirler.

He went for the idea, and as a result, I ended up performing with the UCLA marching band at football and basketball games around the country.

That branched out into solo performances at Lakers and Clippers games as well as some gigs in Vegas and abroad. Since doing Blue Man, I haven't had as much time.

Elf School spills secrets of Iceland's 'Hidden People'

CNN: How many countries have you been to?

Chris Smith: Probably 20.

CNN: Best country/destination for juggling?

Chris Smith: That's tough to say.

Iceland is obviously up there because of the response to the video, but I'd probably have to say Nepal is the best/most memorable juggling location for me.

I went trekking there for a month in 2010 with a couple friends and brought five juggling beanbags along.

I pulled them out on occasion and performed at various villages up in the Himalayas -- it was pretty clear that most of the locals had never seen anything like it.

One time that sticks out in particular, was when our bus from Kathmandu to Duerali [a village in the mountains] got a flat tire and we had to pull off while they fashioned some sort of janky, quick-fix to keep the bus from falling apart.

The bus was packed inside, and there were about twenty people sitting on the roof.

While we were waiting, I stepped outside and did an impromptu juggling show. More people crammed on top to watch, and after the bus was fixed, they stayed sitting up there.

A few miles down the road, blood started to drip down the front windshield. Which, we later found out was because too many people were on the roof and someone sat on a chicken cage.

I still carry a little bit of guilt for my association with that chicken's death.

Although, they cooked it up in the next village and all was right again.

CNN: Where can people see more of your work?

Chris Smith: My juggling persona is That Juggler Guy. You can see some of my juggling videos here. You can see some of my sketch videos here.

And check out the Blue Man Group. You never know, I might be in the show you're watching!

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