JJ Harrison grew up in Okanogan, Wash., where his love for the rodeo began. It wasn’t until high school when JJ Harrison decided to actually get involved in the events at the rodeo.
He took his passion to college with him and joined the rodeo team as a bull and bronco rider at Washington State University. “I gradually realized that I was a wimp and I migrated to team roping.” Harrison said. “I had a lot of fun and success roping over the years, but it wasn’t a career I could have.”
Harrison really established himself in Walla Walla, but didn’t expect his move to further his career in rodeo. “I moved from Pullman to Walla Walla to follow a girl” Harrison said. “I lost the girl but kept the town.” Pat Beard of the Beard Rodeo Company was the first to recognize Harrison’s talents in Walla Walla, Wash., and hired him for a bull riding competition he put on in Vancouver, Wash.
Harrison taught science and social studies at a Walla Walla middle school for eight years. “I think I enjoyed that middle school humor almost more than the kids.” After a few years of balancing teaching and rodeo, Harrison was forced to choose between the two.
Though his love for the rodeo surpassed his passion for teaching, Harrison believes that his time in the classroom has influenced his witty and energetic act as a rodeo clown. “I’m a ball of energy that is quick witted and eager to find humor in every situation. I think it stems from natural ability and my experience in the classroom.”
What makes Harrison a good rodeo clown isn’t that scripted humor or set jokes most clowns use. It’s the off the cuff stuff and spur of the moment quick wit that are his best attributes. Ellensburg Rodeo has been on Harrison’s Dream List of Rodeos since he started and he is so excited to be something more than a spectator this year.
“I would say I’m just a ball of dancing energy that will be all over the arena in Ellensburg.” Harrison said. “I think comedy and comic relief are both a very important part of rodeo and its entertainment value, fans at this year’s Ellensburg Rodeo will hopefully agree! Come on out and check it out folks…you’ll lose 10 pounds just watchin’ me!”