WBUR anchor Jack Lepiarz moonlights as a circus performer, and his showmanship took the global stage Tuesday night.
Lepiarz, who goes by the stage name Jack the Whipper, appeared on “America’s Got Talent” where he stunned all three judges, including Simon Cowell, with his whip-cracking prowess.
Lepiarz arrived on stage wearing classic circus attire (”He looks like a prince!” Sofía Vergara quipped), and held a long traditional-looking whip. He introduced himself by his stage name to the audience, as well as to judges Cowell, Vergara, and Heidi Klum.
“So, this is your day job?” Vergara asked.
“I am a news anchor for Boston’s NPR news station,” Lepiarz said, adding amplified news anchor-like inflection.
Lepiarz then segued into a seriously impressive performance, talking viewers through the art of whip-cracking, drawing thunderous applause from the crowd. He showcased his precision using the whip to slice tiny targets in half. He even got Cowell on stage for one stunt where he placed a target in between his legs.
“It was all a blur,” Lepiarz told the Globe on Wednesday, looking back at the experience. “After I got off stage, one of the producers said ‘I don’t think that could have gone better,’ and I think that’s the way to put it.”
So how did this Boston-based broadcast journalist get into cracking whips?
“I grew up in the circus,” Lepiarz said, describing how his father was a performer with Big Apple Circus, and how his mother was a college anthropology professor. “I’ve been splitting my time between the real world and the circus world since I was 6 years old,” Lepiarz said.
Fittingly, Lepiarz performed in his first show at King Richard’s Faire in Carver — a gig he still does 26 or so years later. Lepiarz moved to Boston to study broadcast journalism at Emerson College, graduating in 2010. He began his work at WBUR the same year and has worked as a production assistant, reporter, and now a radio anchor.
Lepiarz was recruited by “America’s Got Talent” producers through his TikTok account.
“I started a TikTok account in October and it kind of blew up,” Lepiarz said, adding that he currently has 1.9 million followers. Lepiarz said “America’s Got Talent” producers reached out to him in January. Filming was in April.
So will Lepiarz appear on another round of “America’s Got Talent”?
“I don’t think I’ll be able to do the live round, because I have shows coming that will conflict,” Lepiarz said. You can catch him at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in August, and an eight-week run at King Richard’s Faire starting in September.