Mark Hayward was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. His childhood was no more or less eventful than other children, except, perhaps, being told at around age 10 that he would grow up to be a baton twirler. Once Mark got over the trauma of the suggestion that he might grow up to be a girl (as he perceived it), he was well on his way to becoming a professional comedy juggler, yo-yo performer, and all-around funny guy. In high school Mark was given a Hummingbird Hol-Yo-Gram yo-yo in his stocking at Christmas. The same day, a friend received a copy of the book The Complete Juggler. Soon a high school juggling club was formed, and the journey toward skill toy mastery went into high gear. Mark’s first juggling performance was a year later at the end of his senior year at West High School, with a troupe of five guys cleverly named “The West High Jugglers.” Later, the West High Jugglers performed on State Street in Madison, and at the Farmer’s Market, but now with a slightly different roster and a new name: the “Gemini Jugglers” was born.
In college Mark was an Art major, but continued to perform with a high school cohort as the Gemini Jugglers. After a summer of street performing in New York City and two years of working in the Madison area, the Gemini Jugglers disbanded and Mark continued his studies at UW Madison. Intending on a career in art, Mark began a degree in Metalsmithing in the Graduate program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At some point during his graduate studies Mark was offered actual money to do two yo-yo shows. The choice was easy: Mark left school and became a professional juggler and yo-yo guy.