Distinguished Daredevils shock with sword swallowing act


Photo by: Julia Fulmer

World record holder Bill Berry swallows a sword in front of a live audience of FMU students.

Julia Fulmer, Co-Editor

Three-time Guinness World Record holder Bill Berry and former America’s Got Talent contestant Noah Royak took to the stage in Chapman Auditorium to deliver a variety act to Francis Marion University (FMU) students.  

Taking place on Aug. 23, the duo “Distinguished Daredevils” performed a series of activities such as stunts, juggling and comedy. One of the stunts was a sword swallowing demonstration by Berry with the assistance of a volunteer from the audience.   

Morgan O’Melia, a sophomore psychology major, said she attended the event on a whim when her roommate suggested she take a stress-free break for the night.    

“I think probably the sword swallowing was when everybody was like, ‘Oh, okay, this is legit and awesome,’” O’Melia said.  

To Berry, sword swallowing is more than just a stunt; it was his claim to fame, as all three of his world records involve the act. While on stage, Berry said that, while many performers claim to be “sword swallowers,” the majority of them use trick props. According to an ABC News report, there were around 110 living sword swallowers worldwide in 2006, a number which Berry said has dwindled over the years.  

Berry said the overall comedic angle of the show played on the generational differences between him and Royak. Berry said they accomplished this by intentionally exaggerating his younger partner’s simple performance after his own complex trick.   

“I would say that we’re in kind of a transitional state right now,” Berry said. “We’ve been doing classic variety entertainment for a long time, and we want to do new things. We had a really good time playing with how I’m gen x, and he’s a millennial, so we hope to develop that into something really funny and really good over the next year or two.”  

According to Royak, the duo joined forces six years ago after meeting online as they were both studying clowning.   

“I think it just kind of happened organically,” Royak said. “We were friends on Facebook, and we talked a little bit. We decided to meet up, and we’ve been friends and performance partners ever since.”   

According to Berry, the duo took a break from the entertainment industry during the pandemic due to the lack of performance jobs. Despite the unplanned break from practicing, the pair said they are excited to book more shows and look forward to creating more material for the future.   

“The way I think of it is we’re good enough that we’re getting these contracts,” Berry said. “But give us six months to a year when we’ve really had a chance to dial everything in, and I think that’s when our act is going to get really tight.”  

Based in Tampa, FL, the Distinguished Daredevils said they plan on adding finishing touches to their show and traveling the country. So far, they have bookings in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania along with a trip aboard a Princess Cruise Lines ship in January of 2023.