From Jugglers World magazine published by IJA in Winter 1994-95 Letters
Remembering Yvonne Wetherell
Yvonne Wetherell was a friend of ours. The following story is how we will always remember her wacky sense of humor.
We were having dinner in Atlanta during the Groundhog Day Juggler's Festival with Yvonne, her husband, Jack, and her partners, Mike and John, and wondered how they could win the coveted "Grand Prix du Phil," Atlanta's highest juggling honor. Yvonne was sick and tired of the Jongleur Juggler's goody-two-shoes image and we urged her to do something about it.
We all decided that Mike and John should begin their regular club passing routine and a "drunken" Yvonne should interrupt and offer them a swig from her bottle. From there they would light a fake joint and pass it to the chant of "self, self, pass."
Now that the Jongleur Jugglers were feeling liberated, they could tackle the final taboo subject. Yvonne thought they were the perfect spokespeople for a public service announcement on "safe club passing," a frank discussion of certain precautions that should be taken when passing with an unfamiliar partner.
The routine began when Mike asked Yvonne to pass clubs. She wondered if he had any protection. He responded by producing a condom from his wallet and sliding it over the knob of his club. Yvonne, noting that Mike was having problems, offered some assistance. They finished the routine by saying, "You're not just juggling with one person, you're juggling with everyone they've ever juggled with."
We were missing a key prop for the act. So we met Jack and Yvonne at an all-night drugstore to go condom shopping. After reviewing the vast assortment, we ruled out the ribbed condoms (too much grip), the lubricated condoms (not enough grip) and selected the "Condoms for the Complete Klutz."
We retuned to our seedy hotel room for testing. Do we open one to test? No, we each open one to test! By the time we were finished, there were condom-covered clubs from one end of the room to the other. We wondered what the maid would think, and decided to give her a show. We draped elongated condoms over the mirror, the headboard and the floor lamp. To top it all off, we blew one up, twisted it into a cute little poodle and left it standing on the TV set.
At this point, even if the routine bombed on stage we had spent five hours laughing ourselves silly. But this act was destined for greatness. As the show ended, a standing ovation like none the Jongleurs had ever seen erupted from the crowd. A dumbfounded Rodger French awarded the coveted "Grand Prix du Phil," to the now-legendary Jongleur Jugglers.
This story is how we remember Yvonne, through her unpredictable humor and her ability to translate it on stage for everyone to enjoy.
Susan Kirby and Joe Murray, Stony Creek, Connecticut
From Jugglers World magazine published by IJA in Fall 1994
Yvonne Wetherell, a member of the Jongleur Jugglers from 1983 to 1990, died in Gainesville, Fla., on June 30 at age 44.
Born in Tampa, Yvonne move to Gainesville in 1970. She graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College with an associate's degree in dental hygiene, and later from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in philosophy.
Yvonne first came on the juggling scene with the Jongleur Jugglers at the 1983 Atlanta Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival. Later that year she played an instrumental part in the Jongleurs as they placed second in the team championships at the IJA festival at Purchase, N.Y. Yvonne also competed at IJA festivals in Las Vegas in 1984, Atlanta in 1985 and Baltimore in 1989. In 1986 in San Jose, the Jongleurs won the bronze medal.
Yvonne and the Jongleurs also won several "Phils" in regional competition at the Atlanta Groundhog Day Festivals. In 1988 at the 10th annual Groundhog Festival, the Jongleurs won the special "Grand Prix du Phil" for a late-night risque routine, "Safe Juggling," which was largely Yvonne's creation. In it, the normally squeaky-clean group parodied themselves with a routine in which they smoked, drank and stretched condoms over club handles because "You're not just juggling with one person, you're juggling with everyone they've ever juggled with!"
Yvonne's solo juggling included a children's routine based on the Dr. Seuss book, "Scrambled Eggs Super", and performing a juggling routine as part of the play, "The Servant of Two Masters" at the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Fla.
After retiring from the Jongleur Jugglers in 1990, Yvonne turned her artistic talents to fiber arts, creating beauty in quilts and woven fabric. She also dedicated much of her time to helping lost and abandoned pets at the local animal shelter. Yvonne kept in touch with her many friends in the juggling community throughout the country and had planned a visit to this year's festival in Burlington with her husband and fellow juggler, Jack Schudel.
Other survivors include her parents, O. Daniel and Sally Perry Wetherell, both of Tampa; a brother, Daniel C. Wetherell of Tampa; and two sisters, Patricia Cantrell and Sandra Faust, both of Tampa.