Comedy is serious business for Eagle County Rodeo clown |

Comedy is serious business for Eagle County Rodeo clown

Randy Wyrickrwyrick@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

Brian Maloney | Special to the DailyTroy "The Wild Child" Lerwill is a funny guy in a serious business. He's the motorcycle jumping/bull fighting rodeo clown at this week's Eagle County Fair & Rodeo.

EAGLE, Colorado – It’s not every day you see a motorcycle fly through flames in a rodeo arena, just every day this week.Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill is the rodeo clown for this week’s Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, and is one of the top specialty acts in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.So, we have a motorcycle jumping/bullfighting rodeo clown who flies a couple hundred feet over a truck and trailer on his motorcycle, through flames and safely onto the arena floor on the other side. Safely most of the time.There were those two knee injuries, but they’re not the norm. The largest scar is the trophy of a childhood bet gone bad. Some buddies double dog dared him he couldn’t jump a fence on his motorcycle. They were wrong; he could have, he just didn’t that time.”That trailer jump looks so cool in our arena that the fans are just going to flip,” said Brad Higgins, the fair manager. “Troy is just one of those things that bring your rodeo up so many notches.”

When he’s in Eagle, Lerwill works with Les Ohlhauser, who’s back as the rodeo announcer/auctioneer. Their comic banter keeps the crowd engaged between cowboys. They only worked together a few times a year, but you’d never know it.”Most of the material is off-the-cuff. We make it up as the events unfold,” Lerwill says. “There are a couple bits that have to work and I tell him about those, but most of it’s spontaneous.”Six times Lerwill has been named the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year; three times he’s been selected as the barrel man at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the rodeo season’s grand finale. He started bullfighting in 1994, one of those guys dressed in a clown outfit smacking bucking bulls in the nose to draw their attention away from the cowboy they’ve just pitched into the dirt. Before that he spent six years as a professional motocross racer.He’s always been funny.”I found myself more often as ‘the man in the can,’ making people laugh as the barrel man,” Lerwill says.He loves motorcycles and loves to hear people laugh. He figured out ways to combine two of his favorite sounds, and in 1998 The Wild Child was born. Since then, Lerwill’s act has been seen by more than a million spectators. He was the opening act at the National Finals Rodeo in 2001, ’03 and ’05. “Troy is one of the greatest acts in our sport, and I want to make sure as many fans as possible see him in action,” aid Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, the stock contractor for this year’s rodeo. “There’s a very good reason I like having him at the rodeos we do.”