For most of his recent adult life, John Cockroft, 53, has been hopping around from job to job.
Earlier this year, Cockroft created the Funny Bunny Business, where he dresses up in a life-sized bunny suit to do events, pranks, bachelorette parties, deliver rejection letters and bunny grams.
Cockroft said he had no intention of creating the business —the idea was completely random.
In February of this year, Cockroft happened upon a $100 bunny suit while in Walmart. When he initially saw the suit, Cockroft said he had no plan or strategy for what he would do with it. Nonetheless, he was determined to buy it.
“I had no money, so my son, 18 years old, had a hundred dollars, so I borrowed it from him,” Cockroft said. “I said ‘I’ll pay you back in a week, $125.’ And I knew what I was going to do with the suit.”
Cockroft and his wife, Andrea, had plans to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras the next week.
“I was going to get in a bunny suit and collect tips on the street with the bunny, and I did,” Cockroft said.
They had enough money to get down to New Orleans, Cockroft said, but at the time they didn’t have the money to get back home.
“We just knew on faith that this bunny suit was going to get us enough money to get back home,” Cockroft said. “That’s how close we were on money, and we did. I stayed in the suit until I got heat exhaustion.”
He said the bunny got a lot of attraction at Mardi Gras.
“It makes people laugh, and it’s all about that,” Cockroft said.
The couple calculated that they made just under $400 in four days during the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. This was enough to get back home from Mardi Gras and pay back his son in full — with interest.
“You can’t risk not having fun,” Cockroft said. “If you find a way to do that and get paid for it, that’s a good goal to achieve. Some people never achieve that.”
About 30 years before starting the Funny Bunny Business, Cockroft graduated from Evangel University with a degree in journalism and started a 12-year career working at a weekly newspaper.
Around the year 2000, the news industry went digital, something Cockroft said he wasn’t trained in. So, he quit his job at the newspaper. Since then, he’s done a variety of jobs around the Springfield area.
He’s been a substitute teacher, a waiter at the Dixie Stampede and Branson Showboat, a door-to-door salesperson, a photographer and more.
“I don’t like working at a place year after year, so I move on in a few months,” Cockroft said. “I’m like an angel that shows up, helps them out really well and then takes off.”
He said variety is what he thrives on, which is why he started the Funny Bunny Business.
Since his debut at Mardi Gras, the Funny Bunny has mainly done public events like Easter egg hunts and pub crawls around the Springfield area.
Marti Mowery, president of the Tom Watkins Neighborhood Association, planned an Easter egg hunt with the Funny Bunny in attendance.
“The Funny Bunny made the kids’ day,” Mowery said. “He gave hugs and took pictures with the kiddos. He even went on the playground area and played with the kids and brought smiles to their faces.”
Cockroft said the best part about doing an event is getting to see the kids’ excitement.
“I’m literally smiling in the outfit even though I don’t have to,” he said.
His mission, Cockroft said, is to have fun and bring people joy.
“That’s what’s really fun about this bunny idea — it’s not about the money, and it’s not about anything other than having fun and getting away with it,” Cockroft said. “You have to have fun, and you have to get away with having fun every day otherwise you get old.”
Andrea Cockroft chuckles jovially before she describes her husband. She said he’s changing all the time.
“I never know what to expect from one minute, one hour,” Andrea Cockroft said. “It’s a fun life. We have a 24-hour marriage.”
John Cockroft said he’s not eccentric or bizarre, but that many of his peers don’t understand his energy.
“You have to take this unbridled joy for life and let it loose and be okay with it,” he said.