PBR’s Flint Rasmussen leaves crowds in stitches every time he steps on the dirt
By Kacie Albert EBS Contributor
CHOTEAU, Mont. – Fans attending Professional Bull Riders events are not only treated to the high-adrenaline, cowboy tough action courtesy of the world’s best bull riders and bucking bulls, they also see a captivating figure strutting about the arena leaving fans in fits of laughter—PBR’s official entertainer Flint Rasmussen.
“The goal of my job is to try and make a person’s day a little better,” Rasmussen says. “How great is that to do? I never take that for granted.”
His is a unique role duplicated in no other sport. Rasmussen uses a combination of one-line zingers and groovy dance moves, all the while dodging a 2,000-pound bovine upwards of 40 times per night. There is never a dull moment for the crowd.
“Flint Rasmussen is the consummate entertainer,” PBR CEO Sean Gleason said. “I would rate him with any top entertainer, in any other capacity, anywhere in the world.”
And Rasmussen has proven himself the consummate family man whether he’s performing in busy, crowded cities or towns surrounded by farms and ranches. He incites raucous laughs from sold-out crowds in arenas spanning from New York City’s Madison Square Garden to Billings, Montana’s Rimrock Arena.
“I wish I had a real deep, ‘Well here’s how I research material,’ but I just try to be completely open and clicking,” Rasmussen said. “I watch the people, I watch the bull riders, I listen to the announcers and I hope for something to set my mind in motion.”
Part of his success can be credited to his willingness to experiment.
“The great thing about my job is I can throw something out there and if it doesn’t work, I can screw up and make it look like it’s part of the job,” he said.
Others credit his lack of hesitation to improvise for his uncanny ability to leave fans in stitches.
“Flint is not a scripted guy,” PBR Live announcer Brandon Bates said. “He goes off whatever is happening in front of him. He may find something funny one week that isn’t funny for another eight months. You just never know.”
While he makes it look easy, it’s because he understands what is appealing to each market the PBR visits.
“You cannot use the same material you use in Billings, Montana, that you use in New York City,” Rasmussen said. “In Billings I’m using local humor and rural Montana humor. In New York City, it’s more about audience participation and high energy, making them feel like they are part of what’s going on.”
While cracking jokes and moonwalking atop the “shark cage,” Rasmussen never allows the center of his act to deviate from focusing the crowd’s attention on the riders.
Matt Merritt, entertainer for the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour, credits Rasmussen with breaking the mold of this important role in Western sports.
“It’s almost like he’s a late night television host or morning radio DJ with his own brand of comedy,” Merritt said.
In light of his natural ease in the arena, it comes to the surprise of many that Rasmussen’s career began as a result of a dare—albeit one that allowed him to pursue a career doing what he loved, entertaining.
From a young age, Rasmussen was always drawn to performing.
“As a kid I would dream about entertaining people,” he said. “I’d take a tennis racket and turn on some music and play it like a guitar.”
He remembers sneaking down the stairs as a child to listen to Johnny Carson while his parents watched on television, wanting nothing more than to be like Carson.
“I loved stand-up comedians,” he said. “I looked at people, believe it or not, like Howie Mandell. He used to do the greatest stand-up act ever, and I watched a lot of comedians.”
But it wasn’t until age 19, while attending a local rodeo with family, that he found his calling.
At the event, Rasmussen poked fun at the clowns non-stop, saying he could do a better job. He was given the opportunity to do just that and has been on the dirt ever since.
“Most people don’t get to do what they dreamed of doing as a child,” Rasmussen said. “I feel lucky that I grew up to live my dreams. This kind of work actually doesn’t feel like working at all.”
While he may not have come to the profession until his teens, Rasmussen already had a deep understanding for the Western lifestyle.
“People may not realize that, but I grew up a cowboy in a cowboy family so I’ve been able to take the comedy I love and the entertainment I love, the dancing ability that I love and combine it,” he said.
Through his parents’ involvement in the Western and ranching communities, Rasmussen grew up behind the chutes, constantly surrounded by livestock, developing an in-depth knowledge for the timing of the sport.
“I understand livestock,” he said. “I understand when a guy is ready to nod and come out of the chutes, and I understand when they’re not.”
Now, more than 30 years into his career, Rasmussen still has the same zest for the work he did as a child, establishing himself as a legend along the way.
“Hey, I’m 49 years old and still get introduced with the starting lineup.”
Throughout his career, Rasmussen has had one of the best seats in the house to see the evolution of bull riding. Bull riding was part of the rodeo when he began. It’s now a standalone sport that just wrapped up one of its most successful seasons in history, setting 13 local event attendance records and experiencing a 12-percent increase in TV viewership on CBS Sports.
“In 1996 we were an extension of rodeo,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve seen is the PBR has its own identity.”
His act may be all jokes, but Rasmussen hopes that his wealth of experiences can make him someone the younger guys can turn to for advice in areas such as media and sponsors.
“I want to be a mentor for the younger guys,” he said. “I hope they respect me enough to do that.”
Despite all of the hours spent dodging bulls, telling jokes and leading the crowd in song, Rasmussen still gets nervous before each performance. Yet he believes some butterflies are necessary.
And when the PBR visits Billings, Montana, April 7-9, those nerves will be heightened because he will be performing to a hometown crowd.
“If you don’t have a little nervousness or excitement, you should be doing something else,” Rasmussen said. “If that goes away, it just becomes like a normal job.”
Kacie Albert is on the corporate communications team at WME ||IMG, a leading global sports, entertainment and fashion agency. Prior to attending the University of North Carolina, she showed horses in a variety of disciplines across the country.