Word famous entertainer Gregory Popovich and his cast of 30 animals performed their internationally acclaimed Popovich Comedy Pet Theater at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Russian-born Popovich is a fourth generation circus performer and the first in his family of entertainers to take his act to America.
“My mother worked with dogs, so animals in my show was very normal to me,” Popovich said.
Popovich came to America as a juggler and slowly incorporated animals into his comedy routines.
“The audience had a good reaction to the kitties. We had one kitty, then two, then one dog, then two. The audience gave me the idea,” Popovich said.
Saturday’s performance was Popovich’s second time performing at Luhrs.
The performance opened up with a skit involving cats and dogs in a burning building. Firefighter dogs climbed ladders and jumped in windows to save the animals. The skit was narrated with comedic voiceovers to create the illusion of talking animals.
After the firefighter skit, the routine took off to follow the story of Popovich’s rise to fame. Each skit followed Popovich as he tried his hand at the circus, was fired from the circus, befriends animals, tries his hand at being a veterinarian until finally combining his love for animals with his love for the circus and finding his “big break.”
The skits included his famous cats and dogs but also geese, mice and Captain Green Feather the parrot.
The audience’s participation and interaction livened up the show. The animals were not in every skit. Some acts were just Popovich performing his infamous tricks, like his balancing acts on ladders and juggling large quantities of items at a time.
Toward the end of the performance a video highlighting Popovich’s actual rise to fame was shown.
This included clips from him being introduced by various talk show hosts including Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson. The video included background information on the animals, all of whom are adopted from animal shelters.
“I wish to adopt more,” Popovich said. All 30 of his animals live with him on his estate in Las Vegas, where his show is a full-time permanent fixture at Planet Hollywood.
“I [grew] up in Soviet Union. The United States was [my] No. 1 enemy, but Las Vegas was always my dream,” Popovich said.
Aside from performing, Popovich also has released several books and DVDs on how to train animals. However, Popovich prefers the term “building communication.”
“Building communication is very important. You have to respect the pet and watch their body language,” he said.
The message of respect and communication with animals is the driving force behind his shows. “I want the audience to remember from the show, if not anything else, that animals are people, too.”