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Street Performer Acts You Like

Discussion in 'Variety and Street Performance' started by Chance Marmalade, May 19, 2008.

  1. I thought I would start a thread where we can talk about street performances we've seen ourselves in person. No fair using YouTube!

    Tell us what the performer did, why you liked it or whatever else you'd like to comment about!

    I went to the University District Street Fair today and saw four street performer acts. 3 were pretty bland and 1 was fantastic and fun.

    First the bland:

    I don't enjoy a straight forward juggling act. There has got to be some funny patter or interesting story going on in this sort of performance. Today I saw a guy just continuously add more balls (up to 7 which is impressive to be sure!) but the act was pretty darn dull. He had very few jokes and dropped his equipment a lot without offering a funny retort. He also had a hard time getting volunteers from the audience. However he did have one great gem.

    He had some water in a bottle which he poured on the cement in a pretty big circle to outline his performing area. He then asked the audience to move right up to the circle, once we were in position he said something like "OK, let's get this show started!" and took out a lighter and blazed it on the circle. I laughed at that. Of course it was just water. That was pretty darn funny though.

    The next act I couldn't spare much time on cause I was hungry and the Salmon Burgers were calling. But to gather a crowd the guy turned on some music I could barely hear and just sort of danced around for a bit. Not doing anything to fancy or interesting. I began losing interest right away but wanted to give him a chance. So I stuck it out and finally he got started on his show and announced at the end he would be doing a hand stand on a bar and he would take something out of a small bear trap with his teeth while teetering upside down. That sounded interesting at least. But instead of doing something to keep our interest he just sort of prepared to get his act rolling. At least that is how it appeared. It was dull and my friend the Salmon Burger smothered in cajun mayo could wait no longer.

    The third act was more of a freak show deal. I know the guy who was doing all the talking. He does a lot of variety stuff but his stuff has a darker tint to it than I generally like. He and a couple other guys were stapling dollar bills to themselves while a heavy set sun burned fellow in a utilikilt put a nail into his nose and tapped it in with a hammer. While I know this sort of stuff is old school I didn't really enjoy it. I suppose most of my laughter from pain goes to the Jackass movies which can be quite funny and occasionally too much for me.

    Now for the winner!

    Mama Lou, Strong Woman.

    This act was great. I wasn't able to catch the whole thing but I caught a great deal. She had excellent crowd working skills, a great personality, a professional looking costume and some really funny patter. She does all sorts of feats of strength all the while wise cracking, nabbing hesitant audience members and involving them in the show a great deal. She does a hilarious chin up bit where she has two guys hold a chin up bar for her. She also chooses an "Arch Nemesis" out of the audience and puts them into a unitard (the kind pro wrestlers wear) and then challenges them to tear a phone book in half amongst other things. She flirts, she jokes, she's funny! I really wish I could have caught the entire act.

    Check out her website and MySpace and watch her two videos and you'll get an idea on the kind of show she did today. Great stuff!
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
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  2. Pobo the Hobo

    Pobo the Hobo New Member

    I have led a pretty sheltered life in Abilene TX so the only time I really have seen quality street performance live was when I went to Key West Florida when I was thriteen. The only two acts I remember watching were a fire blower, who was great, and a mediocer magician.
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  3. Christopher Clown

    Christopher Clown What the Seuss??!

    When I went to London (Spring 2007) we saw several street performers and musicians in Covenant Gardens (a great shopping district)

    There were two in particular that I really enjoied.

    One was a quartet of violinists and they set up in a corner of a little outdoor cafe. They played many well known classical pieces ... at one point a ladys cell phone rang and she started talking on it ... so they all surrounded her and played even louder than they had been ... getting right up in her face... I'm sure she didn't find it as funny as everyone else did... one of the volinists actually took her phone and placed it in the open violin case that they had for collecting tips.

    The second was a man who had tied a length of rope between two collums ... he would walk the rope, telling jokes, juggling balls, clubs, knives, and balloon sculpting...
  4. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Something which I saw in a street act a couple of years ago which I didn't care for....

    A juggler was doing a decent show, building up to his "big number." he started to make his pitch, promising the payoff, when a beggar nearby began to heckle. This stole his focus of attention. Now, given, hecklers are something which any street performer has to deal with. But how they accomplish such will be better or worse. In this case, it was (I thought) overly negative, failing to work improvisationally with what was thrown at him.

    Here's what occurred: The performer was pitching for something more than "pocket change" or "just a buck." He commented that he might as well stand on the street and beg if that was all he could earn. Fair enough thus far. But then the beggar standing nearby shouted, how he would happily take the change and not spite it. When some people laughed, it threw the performer off and he turned to see what was so funny. The beggar repeated it, now more loudly. The juggler's response was something like, "10,000 sperm and the one which had find the egg made YOU!" It seemed in a bit of bad taste. Instead, I thought that he could have used the heckle to his advantage. Something like: "See, even the REAL beggars agree. So, ladies and gentlemen please, pocket change to him and $20 bills to me!"
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  5. I heard a good heckler response yesterday. Someone in the audience yelled at the performer and the performer responded:

    "Get your own show dude! I don't come into your job and take the fries out of your hands!"
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  6. Ichabod

    Ichabod New Member

    I've also heard: "Listen, I don't come down to your job, knock the gas pump out of your hand, and tell you how to do your job."
  7. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    See, I find that kind of condescending humor to just be cheap laughs. I'd rather see the performer co-opt the heckler somehow and find a more creative outlet of improvisation than declining to silly insults.

    So, for example,

    Heckler yells: "You suck!"

    Street Performer: "Popsickles! You're absolutely right. Won't you help me buy a few? I'll even let you lick mine."
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  8. Plywood

    Plywood New Member

    In New Orleans, I saw a seedy looking semi-clown doing balloon sculpture. I was hesitant to stand near him with my children. Couldn't he have at least worn a shirt?!

    The second act was a man and woman making some very neat sounding music...sorry, I don't know exactly how to describe it. I loved the sound, but they both looked like they were jamming in their own psychedelic world. Oh well.

    The third performer I liked. This man was dressed Uncle Sam-style, standing in the middle of the street, absolutely stock-still. Walking down the block, I really couldn't tell if he was a real man, or simply a mannequin. The impressive part of it, was that he was standing motionless in mid-stride. I can't even imagine the physical stamina it takes to do that. My three-year-old was a bit scared of him, but I thought he was great.

    And the final performance, was by an a capella group. They sounded great, but since we were on our way back to the hotel to put our boys to bed, I couldn't stop and enjoy their music. I just had to tip them, though!
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  9. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    We tend to get a lot of kids in Chicago rhythmically banging on turned over plastic buckets. They do quite well with tips.
  10. gman

    gman New Member

    I've seen George Gilbert, Eric Evans and Kris Benz perform in Ocean City, MD a couple of years ago. I also saw Jimmy Talksalot but that was when he performed in a lecture in Baltimore, MD.

    I swear these guys make it look really easy to draw a crowd, get them to stay and then pay!
  11. Squiggles

    Squiggles New Member

    Squiggles and Smaxy were hired as street performers I think last weekend or two weekends ago. We were not in clown tho...they did not want us dressed in clown. We wore our PMO tuxedo aprons and top hats and did some easy magic stuff and plate juggling.
    They had fire jugglers, fire spinners who had something that looked like numchucks but had fire on the ends, a fire spitter, some painters, a guy who let people paint him,,,that was sooo gross..they even painted his teeth with acrylic paints, a close up magician, a piano that people could play and a kid singer, and that was all that I got to see. o yea they had a hypnotist too.
  12. V

    V Well-Known Member

    James James (aka The Tartan Trickster) - many in the magic world give him grief, but let's face the facts. Many in the magic world are complete bags still living in the past when any Tom, Dick, or Harry couldn't google their illusion and either find the secret (or just as often; buy it for a bargain @ one of the many illusion depots online these days). James is a funny guy who shares his craft and brings mirth to the masses - which is a better indicator of a real entertainer, than the current gig's paycheck; don't tell the members over at the cafe that though...

    Hilby the skinny German juggling boy - funny act that never gets old. Granted accents get cheap laughs and he plays that up a lot; but still puts out an entertaining show time and time again.

    The late Perry (the hobo) Rickman - Maybe because he wasn't your run of the mill entertainer, or because he's from just up the road from me (Michael Ammar as well actually). You wouldn't find any of the award winning clown nonsense pushed so hard these days by various groups (and honestly, we all know how liberal that tag is used right?); unless you count model inmate awards or the like. Druggie, Drunk, Liar, Scoundrel - all of those things and more; but the guy was a good street performer and wasn't afraid to push buttons and challenge norms - Barry would've loved him likely.

    Abby the spoon lady is amazing. We're not limiting this to clowns or variety acts are we? I have a list of buskers a mile long that becomes significantly truncated if so...
    I'll stop there for now..
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  13. The NORMAL One

    The NORMAL One Active Member

    One of the funniest bit I do is I don't juggle but I imated juggling of course my audience realize what is going on . When the bit is finish they are laughing because of how I have work to juggle those imaginary balls. The best street performers are the ones who have nothing but what the audience give them and then make it work. Always have a goal to provide laughs and smiles and it will be a good day.

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