By Steve Hubrecht 

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When self-described professional “zaniac” Alex Zerbe arrives in Invermere in a few weeks, residents should brace themselves for a storm of high-octane comedy. Not just any old comedy, mind you, but old-fashioned variety show physical comedy, complete with beatboxing, juggling (of flaming torches and bowling balls no less), jokes, dancing, stunts, singing, music, absurd ideas, random odd skills, and just for good measure a little bit of magic too.

Zerbe will tell you he moves on stage like a rubber band with the energy of 1,000 suns. It’s easy to believe him, because when the Pioneer spoke with him on the phone last week, he talked like a rubber band with the energy of 1,000 suns. He pinged from topic to topic at manic speed (Jim Carey is tame in comparison). In between explaining his background, his love of foot bag (more commonly known as hacky sack), his appearance on Chinese television and his Guinness world record titles (he held two), Zerbe managed to give the Pioneer a running commentary on the dinner prep he was simultaneously doing (avocados deftly diced, cheese supremely shredded), and at one point burst into an impromptu rap about the tomatoes he was slicing. It was hard to keep up, even just listening by phone. No doubt the zaniness is ramped up even more when watching Zerbe perform in person.

“It’s a family show, for the whole family. Yes, of course kids love it. But so do the adults. Even teenagers love it,” Zerbe told the Pioneer last week.

Zerbe’s zaniac comedy show comes to Invermere on Wednesday, March 6 at the Columbia Valley Centre and will offer a taste of everything mentioned above and more. If that sounds like a lot to pull off, it is. But Zerbe honed his craft for 25 years and has it down to a fine art.

He grew up in Seattle, graduated high school and quickly decided that the path his parents had trod as academics was not for him. Zerbe met a professional street performer and juggler who watched Zerbe for a bit before declaring that he had the talent to go professional.

“I said ‘what? That’s a job? I can make a career of this? Sign me up.’ So he trained me,” recalled Zerbe.

Alex Zerbe is a real ‘Zaniac’ and will prove it in Invermere on March 6.
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As a teenager he’d gotten into freestyle foot bag. Most of the world knows freestyle foot bag as hacky sack, but Zerbe is quick to point out that ‘Hacky Sack’ is the brand name of a foot bag maker. Foot bagging became a passion for him, then an obsession, and eventually Zerbe got his first Guinness world record for performing an ‘eclipse’ (a specific foot bag trick) 26 times in a row. (Zerbe set the record back in 2002, and it stood until 2020).

The physical dexterity developed during his foot bagging youth came in handy for physical comedy routines. Zerbe started out doing shows in schools, three times a day, five days a week. Eventually he and another comedian formed a duo, Brother from Different Mothers. The pair went on to win awards for their shows (and together set a Guinness world record for juggling) before Zerbe branched out on his own. His solo career has landed him on America’s Got Talent and a nationally broadcast variety show in China.

“I make a living doing what I love. It’s really fun. It’s fantastic,” he said.

Asked to pick the highlight from two and a half decades of performing, Zerbe was quick to reply “the show in Invermere, obviously. That’s going to be the one. Make sure you get a ticket.”

Zerbe has toured B.C. before, and even driven past Invermere several times, but the March 6 show will be the first time he’ll turn west at the crossroads and actually make it into town.

The 70-minute all-ages show begins a 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickers are $15 plus service fees and can be purchased online at ?www.eventbrite.ca.