The International Clown Encyclopedia, 6th Edition

Juggerigeur refers to an obscure juggling tradition from Eastern Europe. Meaning literally “strict jester” (from joculatorem rigeur), the tradition dates back to 900 A.D.

Performed in small groups (usually 3 to 6) – the juggerigeur performance commenced when the first performer ( or “lead”) began throwing live fish – traditionally a type of carp – as fast as possible at the next performer. The next performer then threw the fish on to the next. At the last performer ( or “anchor”), the fish is thrown as hard as possible at the head of the lead. The key was to hit the lead hard enough to elicit the intended jocularity from the crowd without causing incapacitation.

The practice fell into disfavor after several performances in the early 14th century ended with the lead attacking and killing the anchor – often with the same fish that the anchor had just thrown. Apparently the acceptable velocity of the “head” fish was difficult to gauge.

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