Talk about a side hustle! A WBUR presenter makes his mark in the wild world of circus performance.
Jack Lepiarz, also known as Jack the Whipper, stunned the audience and judges with impressive whip-cracking skills on “America’s Got Talent” on Tuesday night. The audience watched in amazement as Lepiarz deftly smashed a thin wooden target between judge Simon Cowell’s knees.
“I almost got my what’s new taken off, and they were in hysterical laughter,” Cowell joked to The sun.
But how does a local radio host end up breaking whips on primetime television? It starts in a circus tent.
“I grew up in the circus,” Lepiarz, 34, told NBC Boston. “My dad was a performer in the Big Apple circus when I was born.”
Lepiarz spent her childhood and adolescence in the entertainment world, dividing her time between school and traveling with the circus where her father performed as a clown. The duo also performed at Renaissance fairs across Massachusetts. But as a teenager, Lepiarz nearly quit the business.
“I was six years old playing with my dad at King Richard’s Faire, which is in Massachusetts,” Lepiarz told WRKF Baton Rouge. “I was working at an ice cream shop, I think it was $6.25 an hour, and my dad called me and said, ‘I need help with the show.’ I’ll pay you $50 an hour. And I said, ‘Wow! I’m in the wrong company.
Lepiarz ended up at Emerson College, where he graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism in 2010. He began his work at WBUR the same year and has worked as a production assistant, generalist reporter, and currently a noon radio presenter. . During his AGT hearing, he told Judge Sofia Vergara that WBUR was “very well aware” of his second job.
Lepiarz balances her career with her love for whip tricks and has set 4 Guinness World Records with the instrument. In 2020, he set the record for “most Bullwhip cracks in one minute”, with 298 cracks.
Lepiarz found unexpected success on video-sharing platform TikTok when a fan shared a clip of his performance at King Richard’s Renaissance Faire in Carver. The 2021 video, which shows Lepiarz wielding a flaming whip, has nearly two million views.
“It did really well really quickly,” Lepiarz told Input Magazine, explaining that the success of the video inspired him to start his own TikTok account, @jacqueszewhipper. Today, the account has two million followers and over 41 million likes.
@realsolarrays The stage is on fire #krfaire #jackthewhipper ♬ original sound – RealSolarRays
Lepiarz told Input Magazine that he hopes his platform on TikTok will inspire the next generation of circus performers.
“Young people contact me to ask me how to get into the circus without having circus training. I always rewrite a fairly long answer,” he said.
It was this very fame of TikTok that led Lepiarz to “America’s Got Talent.” His viral videos caught the attention of the show’s producers who invited him to audition.
“Around January, America’s Got Talent contacted me and said, ‘Hey, we’re interested in having you come, because you look like you’re different,'” Lepiarz told NBC Boston.
In anticipation of the show, Lepiarz formulated an entirely new act.
“The big thing I did on stage – I never did it in front of a live audience or in front of any type of audience. [It was] the first time that I [did it] on stage and I was very nervous,” Lepiarz said.
Lepiarz passed the first round of auditions, charming even an unimpressed Cowell with his whipping skills.
” For memory, @SimonCowell still terrifies me,” Lepiarz tweeted after his audition aired.
As viewers await Lepiarz’s next performance on the show, episodes of “America’s Got Talent” air Tuesdays, 8/7c on NBC.
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