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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rescued pets are the stars of Popovich Comedy Pet Theater
2011-01-13 By Michelle Knight knight@theacorn.com
TO THE RESCUE—Circus performer Gregory Popovich rescues animals from shelters and trains them to perform in his Comedy Pet Theater. Based in Las Vegas, Popovich is taking his pets on the road and will perform at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 14, at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Popovich studies his pets’ personalities in order to incorporate them into the skits that they perform. The show features trained cats, dogs, geese and doves. Photo courtesy of Popovich Comedy Pet Theate
Gregory Popovich lives a dog’s life, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
For the past 15 years, Popovich has performed with dozens of his trained dogs and cats. His show, Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, comes to the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza at 7 p.m. Fri., Jan. 14—his only Ventura County appearance this year.
Popovich and his pets have performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “America’s Got Talent.” Except for a few weeks out of the year when the show goes on the road, Popovich Comedy Pet Theater performs six days a week at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
A true child of the circus, Popovich, 47, grew up surrounded by pets. His parents trained dogs for a Russian circus, and he formed a deep attachment and respect for animals.
Popovich took up the art of juggling, and in 1990 he moved to the United States to perform in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth.
About two years later, he left Barnum & Bailey to perform as a juggler at Circus Circus in Las Vegas.
But Popovich wanted more satisfaction from his work than juggling could provide. Returning to what he knew and loved— animal training—he developed an act with a dog and cat he found at a shelter.
He wasn’t going to settle for the usual dog-jumping through-a-hoop performance. Popovich wanted a creative, unique show for American audiences. He designed a show that his pets would want to perform, studying the activities his animals enjoy and incorporating them into the show.

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