Nels Ross is a performer, speaker, and “Chief Executive Oddball” of In Jest Inc. (www.injest.com). Working solo and with others, he provides gravity-defying shows, keynotes, and more for organizations and events in North America and abroad.
His diverse background includes: studying mathematics, education, and theater at the University at Buffalo; touring with a nonprofit circus; training with instructors from Broadway and Cirque du Soleil; writing for Juggle magazine; teaching performing arts and life skills workshops; and performing and speaking for companies and conferences as well as schools, ministries, and other nonprofits.
When he is not uplifting others, Nels enjoys life with his wife and five kids in western New York.*
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That’s the short version. If you care to know more, keep reading.
Who’s to Blame?
Starting at eight years old, Nels pursued interests in physical comedy, juggling, acting, and other arts, applying his talents everywhere from street festivals to theatrical productions. His mother actually encouraged him. That’s not surprising when you consider she was a mime and fire eater among other things.
In 1992 Nels and his long-time friend Andrew Barden toured with The Circus Kingdom, a nonprofit which was devoted to spreading compassion and good will. They co-founded In Jest soon after. Upon completing degrees in mathematics and education, Nels took the next logical step and became a “fool-time” performer and speaker in 1996. Since then he has worked with several partners.
Despite his confessed lack of business acumen, Nels maintains a busy schedule and considers himself blessed: “Somehow I manage to pay my bills and feed my kids at least once a week.” He credits grace as well as supportive family and friends, and pays it forward in part by doing reduced fee and volunteer work for special causes.
New Name, Same Mission
Though his full name is Nels Ross Cremean, he uses Nels Ross for his stage name. “It’s easier to pronounce and remember,” he explains, “Plus it confuses creditors and relatives I’d rather avoid.”
Nels envisions a world where people everywhere enjoy life and do good. He strives to spread joy and help others live, laugh, love, and learn. Thus, armed with his contagious sense of humor and playfulness, he continues to defy gravity – both the physical force and undue graveness – because, he quips: “Too many people suffer from terminal seriousness.”
* Meet Nels’ family.