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In Jest was co-founded by Andrew Sears Barden and Nels Ross Cremean in 1992, and incorporated as In Jest, Inc. in 2000. Nels currently works solo and with others to provide laugh-out-loud services and support life-giving causes, defying gravity and spreading joy around the world… And other places.

Nels headshotNels Ross, CEO

Nels Ross is The Inspirational Oddball™ and CEO of In Jest, Inc. ( Working solo and with others, he defies gravity and spreads joy throughout the known universe.

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; teaching workshops on juggling and life skills; and presenting for companies, conferences, schools, ministries, and others.

Fun fact… Nels uses his first and middle names for performing and speaking. “It’s easier for me to remember,” he explains, “Plus, it helps me avoid creditors and crazy relatives.”

Nels is a husband and proud father of five oddballs.*

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*Meet Nels’ family. Learn about In Jest’s vision and mission.

In Jest works with a growing network of talents. Bios of co-presenters can be provided as needed.

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The Rest of the Story

For more than you really need to know, here are highlights from In Jest’s timeline…

1972… Nels was born in Corning, New York, after a major flood, in a makeshift maternity ward, on a conference room table. His mother quips he was destined to be a CEO. (His official title is Chief Executive Oddball.) Andrew, his “brother from another mother,” was born soon after.

1980… From an early age, Andrew and Nels explored juggling, clowning, mime, acting, and other arts, everywhere from summer camps to national workshops. That’s not surprising when you consider both their parents were involved in performing arts ministry.

1992… Andrew and Nels toured the Northeast U.S. with The Circus Kingdom, a nonprofit devoted to spreading joy and good will. They co-founded “In Jest: The Antic Arts Company” that summer.

1996+… Upon completing degrees in mathematics and education, Nels began to pursue performing and speaking “fool time.” When Andrew moved on to other pursuits and to the west coast, Nels continued working with him as well as other partners.

2000+… In Jest, Inc. was incorporated, with a mission to help people “live, laugh, love, and learn wholeheartedly.” Nels took intensive workshops with acclaimed artists and instructors from varied traditions.

Currently… Nels aspires to “practice joy on the path of service,” in honor of Andrew (12/18/72–10/8/17). He now works with a growing network of entertainers and speakers to defy gravity and spread joy.

Nels, with Andrew (’92), solo (’07), and with son Noah (’14)

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