Rylee Jo Maryman spends her summer days roping the dummy and tying goats. Sometimes she goes swimming, but practice comes first. “I practice to increase […]
ProFile: Austin Singley
Written by: Lily Landreth< Back to Articles
Steve Martin advises, “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” and 24-year-old barrelman, hypnotist, and professional stuntman, Austin Singley, took the advice to heart. Now in the middle of his second year as a PRCA barrelman, while also performing part time in Universal Studios’ WaterWorld, Austin has been developing and refining his panache since seventh grade. “I was pretty shy through elementary and kept to myself, but in seventh grade, I auditioned for the school musical, Grease, and that’s what really sparked the fire for performing,” Austin explains. His senior year of high school, Austin and several friends put together an illusion magic show, with all original illusions and routines, which they took on the road and performed in professional theatres around their home state of Utah.
Yet it was the dusty stage of rodeo that Austin wanted to command. Growing up a rodeo-goer rather than a competitor, he was in the audience of the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo in 2009 when Keith Isley performed his trick horse act. “That night, everyone kept telling me I had a similar personality to Keith’s and that I’d make a great rodeo clown, so two days later, I booked my first rodeo in Duchesne, Utah. I’m a guy who gets something in my mind and I don’t stop until I achieve it!” For the high school junior, the performing aspect was no difficulty, but he’d spent little time in the arena, let alone in a clown barrel. A family friend from Ogden Pioneer Days, Jackie Belnap, found out Austin was making his debut, and surprised him with an interview with Keith Isley before Austin left town. “It was a huge star struck moment for me,” Austin recalls. “He sat for 20 minutes and coached through some things to do and watch out for. To this day, I can call and ask him questions, and he and his wife, Melanie, have become good friends and are very supportive of me. Keith has helped me in more ways than he’ll ever know!”
Rodeo clown greats like Keith Isley and John Harrison, who endorsed Austin for his pro card, have inspired him. “I watch them and observe what makes them successful, in addition to being funny. I think it’s having acts that require some kind of talent that puts them above the rest,” says Austin. “Too many rodeo clowns nowadays go into the arena and make fools of themselves at the expense of a laugh, but these are genuinely hilarious guys that took years to put their acts together.” Austin uses his own strengths, such as creating illusions and training trick horses, and infuses them with comedy. “When I got into the industry, I promised myself to always bring fresh and new material to rodeo audiences. It’s hard to choose a favorite act – they’re like my children – but I have a horse appearing illusion act, and another with a custom inflatable version of me as a rodeo clown that are two of my favorites. With my acts, I want to be sure everyone, of any age, can see and enjoy them from any seat in the house.” His trick horse, Tess, is a half-Quarter Horse half-Arabian mare he rescued four years ago and trained. He’s copyrighted all of his acts, explaining how important branding is to success. “I always have the same costume and makeup and the same acts – I don’t want people confusing my acts and material with any other clown.
“If someone had asked me in high school what I thought I’d be doing in 2016, this would not be my answer, but I can’t think of anything better suited for me,” says Austin. “I love being on the road and meeting new people. The rodeo family is a very close knit community, and it’s nice to go almost anywhere and know the people there.” He’s performed as far east as Colorado, covering most of the western states, while he anticipates branching out to Oklahoma and South Dakota as his PRCA career takes root within the next year. Stops this summer have included the Tehachapi Mountain Rodeo in California, ten nights at the Cody Nite Rodeo in Wyoming, Flagstaff Pro Rodeo in Arizona, and many more.
His travels have even taken him to Hollywood, where he’s performed in Universal Studios’ WaterWorld Stunt Show since February. He plays one of the villains called the Smokers, shooting through a wall of fire on a stand up jet ski. The show, though only 20 minutes long, plays up to ten times a day, and actors may perform in a maximum of five shows a day since it is so physically demanding. “We have six people for a single part, for flexibility, which is nice for my rodeo schedule,” says Austin. The show has been running since 1995, and Austin was four when he saw it first. Jet skis dancing in his head, he came across a casting call for auditions for the Universal Studios in Japan several years ago. A few weeks before auditions, he bought a stand up jet ski and practiced on the lake, but wasn’t cast. Two years later, he auditioned for the show in Hollywood and made is as far as callbacks, but didn’t make the cut. “It was a long drive back to Utah,” Austin recalls. “I was teaching a stunt workshop at the University of Utah when I got a call saying they wanted me back for water callbacks that weekend. So I drove down for those, and the following Thursday they gave me the job and told me I started on Monday.” He’s made his home temporarily in Lake Elsinore, California, but will be moving back to Clearfield, Utah, this fall. “Being in the show was a bucket list thing for me, and my eyes are usually way bigger than my stomach, but somehow I’m always able to pull it off!”
He attributes that to the support of his family, including his mom, Sherie Reynolds, brother, Brayden, a dancer, teacher, and choreographer for the NBA’s dance teams, and their sister, McKenna, a sophomore at Oregon State University with a position on the gymnastics team. “There’s something in the water at the Singley household!” Austin jokes. “We were raised by an amazing woman, and my mom is my hero. I know I speak for myself and my siblings when I say we owe everything to her.”
Austin’s goals include marrying and raising a family of his own someday. “Until then, I’ll focus on building my rodeo career and earning as many buckles as I can. As long as I can keep audiences entertained, and bring in fresh material and acts, this is what I believe I’m meant to be doing with my time on this earth.