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A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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1980s racquetball legend coming home with a brand new comedy show


On stage, Andy Gross merges stand-up comedy, mind-bending magic and remarkable ventriloquism. It’s this unique brand of entertainment that Gross is bringing to the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville on March 2. Now, if that name, Andy Gross, sounds familiar it might be because you’re a fan of his act, or, it may be because you remember him as a young, rising athletic superstar and part of the last chapter of what was “Racquetball’s very Jewish St. Louis story” in the mid-1980s.

Andy Gross, Superstar

Gross, 55, grew up in St. Louis. As a young boy, he had two interests that would later define him: the magic of illusion and racquetball.

“I remember seeing the movie ‘Magic’ starring Anthony Hopkins and Ann Margaret. The film is about a deranged ventriloquist whose dummy comes to life,” said Gross. “I was hooked and began reading anything I could to uncover how to throw my voice.”

At the same time, Gross also spent his time chasing his older brother David to the racquetball courts at the Jewish Community Center.

“Racquetball was so popular and there was a group of kids up there that would play as much as possible,” remembered Gross, who now lives in Los Angeles. “There was only one court, court 5, that they would let young kids play on, so our parents would have to get up early to reserve the court so we could play on weekends. By the time I was 8-9 years old, I remember, you know, playing pretty good.”

One day, around that time, Gross says he was alone on the court hitting balls with a new racket when an older boy asked if he could see it.

“He was probably 18 and he just started hitting the ball so hard. I thought for sure this guy was going break my new racket,” said Gross. “That was the first time I met Marty Hogan.”

For Gross, the encounter with Marty Hogan, who was the face of the sport, ignited his passion for the game. He soon became a force to be reckoned with, making history as the youngest player to qualify for the professional tour at the age of 15 and changing the course of his young life.

Life in California

After graduating from Parkway Central High School, Gross followed Hogan out to California to continue his professional racquetball career. It was the time of his life.

“I mean, there were tons of tournaments out here. I’m doing all these endorsements. We’re doing clinics and exhibitions and seeing the world. I was great. Everything was great,” said Gross. “And then when I was about 24, racquetball as a sport started struggling.”

By 1994, Gross’ professional career ended. He soon began wondering what to do next.

“It was a little scary. I didn’t go to college because I was doing so great with racquetball,” said Gross. “So now I’m in California, the sports dead and I go, ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’ Wait a second, I got this ventriloquism thing.”

That Ventriloquism thing

So, that is just what he did. Gross rediscovered his skills and began signing up for open mic nights to hone his act.

“I learned my magic was good, but it wasn’t that funny,” said Gross. “I worked on it — made the act funnier and you know what? They kept having me come back and then all of a sudden I was becoming come middle act and then headlining.”

Now, with a career spanning over three decades, he’s never looked back. His viral videos, including the infamous “split man” prank, have garnered millions of views, propelling him to internet stardom and attracting the attention of celebrities like Snoop Dogg.

Coming Home

Gross is now bringing his show back home as part of his “Are You Kidding Me?” tour. He promises an evening filled with lots of laughter, magic and mind-bending illusions.

“I use a lot of audience participation so be ready to be a part of the show,” said Gross. “This is not like a serious magic show. I’m not coming out to pull rabbits out of a hat. It’s more like crazy goofy, silly stuff that I’m going to be doing. But at the same time, you know, people are still going to be like, what the heck just happened, you know?”

We know.

Andy Gross On Stage

What: Andy Gross: Are You Kidding Me?
Where: Lincoln Theatre, 103 East Main Street, Belleville IL, 62220
When: Saturday, March 2 2024 at 7:30 p.m.
Age: All ages
Tickets: General $30 / VIP $50. Order here:



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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.