The Great Zucchini is a stage name that could refer to performers, Robert Wilkinson, an Orlando-based magician, or Eric Knaus, a Washington, DC-based children's entertainer.
Robert Wilkinson is a magician and illusionist who owns Zucchini Productions and has registered the trademark for "The Great Zucchini". Wilkinson, a master illusionist for over 30 years, currently performs in the Orlando, Florida area. Orlando residents know Wilkinson for his street shows performed next to his vintage orange truck.
In Washington, DC, The Great Zucchini is the alias used by Eric Knaus (born around 1970), a professional children's entertainer specialized in performing for children aged 2 to 6 in the Washington Metropolitan Area. According to the Washington Post he is "Washington's top preschool entertainer" and "just stupendously great with kids."
Eric attended Community College, but did not graduate. He worked at Washington area preschools and day-care centers for more than a decade. Since 2004 he practices solo as an entertainer. He has performed, among others, at the US vice president's residence for a granddaughter of Dick and Lynne Cheney and at the 2003 White House Easter Egg Roll.
Eric's parents, Rodger Knaus and Jane Cohen, split up when Eric was 13 after "there was phyiscal violence to Eric" according to his mother. According to her, the mistreatment that Eric suffered at the hands of his father influenced his life.
On October 24, 1983, an 18-month old boy named Laurence for whom Eric had baby-sat and who lived in an apartment across the hall from his mother's apartment was shot dead by his father Laurence Mann, a former Guyanese ambassador to the United States. Laurence Mann also shot the baby's mother, Paula Adams, and himself that same night. According to Eric's mother, Eric was "really attached" to little Laurence. She said he was devastated to realize that a child can be unsafe in his own home and that he "never really got over it".