If you’ve seen the viral YouTube video of a man (split in half!) carrying around his lower body and naturally eliciting high-pitched reactions from onlookers, then you’ve likely seen Andy Gross performing his “split man” trick.
Gross’ “split man” trick, born several years ago with the idea to “jump out from behind trees and just scare people at the park like I’m cut in half,” turned into a viral video with over 1 million views the morning after Gross uploaded it. It now has nearly 8 million views. It completely changed his life, he said.
“I remember CNN called and they asked — 4 in the morning, it was — ‘Is this split man?’ and I go, ‘Who?’ I felt like Tony Stark from ‘Iron Man.’ They wanted to play it on CNN, it was just surreal,” he said.
If you’re hoping to see the “split man” trick in person when the Los Angeles-based Gross comes to Seattle Aug. 7 for a show at the Funhouse, well, “we’ll just have to see when we get there,” Gross said. His show will have comedy, crazy magic tricks, audience participation and ventriloquism, he added.
Gross’ “split man” trick launched his magician-and-comedian career overnight. He knew he had done something special because “I was getting calls from — and what’s neat about the internet — different countries!” soon allowing him to have the opportunity to travel to Barcelona, Paris and London to perform, all because of the viral YouTube video, he said.
But Gross was not always a world-traveling comedian, magician and “skilled ventriloquist.”
Gross’ passion for magic began at the age of 9 with the movie “Magic,” about a ventriloquist dummy that comes to life and murders people, to which Gross thought at the time (about the ventriloquism, that is): ” ‘Wow, this could come in handy sometime later in life, so I should learn this.’ “
Gross got so good at throwing his voice that “I could actually page myself out of class.”
After learning the tricks of the trade, Gross grew up playing professional racquetball in St. Louis, “the mecca of racquetball playing … and that’s what seemed like what I was going to do all my life. I played racquetball, racquetball, racquetball, got on the pro tour, touring around making big money, and I thought this was going to last forever.”
After the sport “just completely died,” Gross found himself in Los Angeles looking for a new career. With his passion for magic in the back of his mind, he decided to do a few open mics at local comedy stores, “and then they asked me to come back and open the show for them, and then middle of the show, and before long, I never looked back,” he said.
“Now I’m happy to say I’ve never had a real job. It’s pretty much a natural progression, you go from racquetball to ventriloquism, doesn’t everybody do that?” Gross said.