5 Crazy Street Performers (Who Happened to be Geniuses)

#2. Guy Laliberte

Like most Canadians, Guy Laliberte loves two things in life: the accordion and the streets. So it was no wonder that, like most Canadians, Laliberte followed high school with the traditional post-academic ritual known as "play your accordion for spare change" on the streets of Quebec. Whether he was awesome at it or sucked, we'll never know. Not because there's no record, but because we seriously can't tell when someone is good on the accordion.

You could play this at the Grammys and we'd still be none the wiser.

At any rate, Laliberte left Canada for Europe, where he picked up two more skills and added them to his repertoire: fire eating and stilt walking (presumably because he was determined to make his rise to fame and fortune as fucking hard for himself as possible). Yet mastering the two most Godzilla-esque skills he could imagine turned out to be a great move, because when he got back to Canada, he had the chops to put together his own troupe. That troupe was so fucking good that in 1983 they earned a $1.5 million grant from the Canadian government to organize an event for the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier discovering the place.

We don't know what the stilt walkers and fire breathers look like where you come from, but around here, these are not the people anyone would give a million dollars to. So you know they were good.

Maybe even this good.

That little show was what later became Cirque du Soleil, and today Soleil is a multibillion dollar enterprise with 45 running shows scattered around the world. Over the years, Laliberte's personal fortune has grown to $2.5 billion, and he got to go to space. Looking like this:

Via cnet
His fire-breathing kit is in his other spacesuit.

Holy shit, how do you top that?

#1. Adam Winrich and His Flaming Whips

Via Frank Kovalchek

The nickname "whipmaster" is most often reserved for sexual deviants and rogue archaeologists searching for mystical treasures. But don't tell that to Adam Winrich, who can do things with a whip that are usually relegated to hip-hop artists and Satan. First of all, there's the fact that Winrich can crack his whips so fast that they sound like they're beat boxing. Check it out:

Eh, that's pretty cool. But that would not be enough for us to declare this man to be our new hero. No, it's the fact that he wasn't satisfied with all that, and chose to set his goddamned whips on fire and swirl that shit around like Balrog. All without somehow accidentally disfiguring both himself and the Renaissance Faire patrons who primarily make up his audience. BEHOLD:

We'd like to see a single other person on this list do that shit. Guy Laliberte, give this man your $2.5 billion. This might be a good place to mention what it actually takes to crack a whip. It might look like it only takes a snappy flick of the wrist to make the popping sound, but whip crackers are actually flicking their leather faster than the speed of sound, and that "CRACK" you hear is a miniature sonic boom.


So when we say Winrich is the fastest whip cracker on the planet and that he holds seven world records for his skills, we're also calling him the fastest sonic-boom maker on the planet. In other words, this guy is making a living by manipulating the forces of physics for the entertainment of others. And then he sets it all on fire.

Via winrichwhips
"It's a living."

For more impressive feats from unexpected sources, check out 5 Homeless Guys Who Accomplished Amazing Things and 5 People Who Changed the World From Inside of Prison.

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