Musical juggler-comedian Chris Bliss had originally intended to take the summer off but got a phone call to open one concert in Chicago for Asia, 1982's first new supergroup. Six weeks later, he stepped off the tour after having performed for more than 250,000 people in 33 cities. "So much for my summer off," says the Bethesda native.
Tonight, he'll be in more intimate surroundings than the large halls on the tour, performing and hosting the open-mike show at Garvin's Laugh-Inn after a three-night run with another former Washingtonian, comedian Charles Fleischer (best known as Carvelli on "Welcome Back Kotter"). Fleischer went to Wilson High, Bliss to Walt Whitman, but they'd never met until Garvin's. Bliss, who does his intricate juggling to rock tapes, has also opened for Peter Tosh, Spyro Gyra, Robet Klein and Eric Clapton, but does most of his work on the college circuit.
He's begun to expand the stand-up comedy aspect of his show "because I'm a pretty verbal person. But I'll never get the juggling and comedy mixed up, or use juggling as a prop for mediocre comedy." Bliss used to try to sell himself as an opening act for concerts because his show didn't require a set change or much equipment. "And comics require even less props than I do. But you throw a comic out in front of your average rock audience and it's not the right place, because it's such a nonverbal audience." Asia fans liked the jugglying, though, and he's already been invited to open the band's European tour and to sign up for next summer's American tour.