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Swingler takes clown act seriously

The Bounce



When Mark Swingler got the call to perform as the rodeo clown at this year’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, he compared it to a golfer getting the opportunity to play at “The Masters.”

“When we got the call . . . it was another milestone to my career,” Swingler said. “Tucson is it.”

During his 18-year career, Swingler has worked at many prestigious rodeos and was the opening act of the National Finals Rodeo in 2001.

“The barrel man and the comedy stuff have gotten so much more precise,” he said. “You get shoved out here in front of 10,000, 15,000 people or in Houston where it’s 70,000 people and all eyes are on you . . . you’re an entertainer and that’s what you really need to be.”

Swingler has been nominated for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s clown of the year three times, and his YMCA comedy act has been nominated for the PRCA’s comedy act of the year for six times.

“We only have six or eight (clowns) in the business that are just really good at what they do and he’s one of them,” rodeo announcer Wayne Brooks said.

Part of Swingler’s success as a comedian has been his ability to do research to get to know some of the issues that are affecting the town he’s visiting, which has included taking stabs at the ongoing Interstate 10 widening project.

His victims have included the president of the United States.

“I told an Obama joke the other day and a couple of guys were saying, ‘You can’t go there’ because that’s crossing the line.

“Why? He’s president. I do a Bill Clinton; I do a George Bush, it doesn’t matter. He’s president,” Swingler said. “Everybody’s so tense now. There’s no reason to be. Put a little shiny side to it. That’s the way it needs to be.”

As Swingler finishes his first Tucson rodeo, he’s doing so in the shadows of those who have come before him, such as Tucson’s Chuck Henson, Flint Rasmussen and Jim Bob Feller.

“I have a God-given gifted ability to go and entertain people,” Swingler said.

“If I can go out there for 2 1/2 hours and let those people just relax and, especially today with the economy – get them away from their day jobs and their worries, and let them soak in the Tucson rodeo, have fun and leave with a smile on their face – my job is done.”

L.A. looking for NFL team?

LOS ANGELES – City Council members in the City of Industry unanimously approved a proposal Thursday for a pro football stadium intended to lure a team back to the Los Angeles area.

The vote helped clear the way for developers of the $800 million venue to begin talks with NFL teams about a possible move to the industrial and warehousing city 15 miles east of Los Angeles.

Majestic Real Estate Co. managing partner John Semcken said the company would begin shopping for a team on April 1, the deadline for opponents of the project to file a lawsuit.

At least eight franchises, including the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, have been identified as possible targets for relocation, he said.

The Associated Press

Home confinement for Vick

RICHMOND, Va. – Imprisoned NFL star Michael Vick will be allowed to serve the last two months of his sentence under home confinement because there is no room at a halfway house for him, a government official told The Associated Press Thursday.

Vick is serving a 23-month sentence at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., after pleading guilty to bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in eastern Virginia’s Surry County. He also admitted to participating in the killing of several underperforming dogs.

Vick’s lawyers have said they expected him to be moved any day into a halfway house in Newport News. But because of a lack of space, Vick will be released instead to his home in nearby Hampton at some point on or after May 21.

The Associated Press

Beckham losing patience

MILAN – Just over a week before his scheduled return to the Los Angeles Galaxy, David Beckham is becoming frustrated by the delay in his possible transfer to AC Milan.

Beckham’s loan to Milan from Major League Soccer is scheduled to end March 8.

Milan offered $3 million, but Los Angeles said it wanted at least $10 million.

Milan vice president Adriano Galliani responded by saying that the club was not prepared to go any higher for the 33-year-old midfielder, who can terminate his MLS contract in November.

“There’s a lot going on and a lot being said, and every day someone is asking me questions about what’s happening,” Beckham said Thursday night after Milan was eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Germany’s Werder Bremen. “It needn’t be said every day, but so far I am trying to concentrate on the football.

“At the moment, we’ll have to see what happens. At the moment it is being discussed and negotiated.”

The Associated Press

UA women’s swimming

The Arizona women’s swim team is in first place after the second day of the Pac-10 meet in Federal Way, Wash.

UA has 510 1/2 points, while California is second at 448 1/2. The meet runs through Saturday.

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