Some “A”s for your imaginary “Q”s

When will there be posts?

You can expect posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The post topics will cover all aspects of comedy juggling including theory, how to get and keep work, money, prop reviews, and interviews with top professionals.

Who is this for? 

This blog is for comedy jugglers and for anyone interested in comedy juggling or the variety arts. Though I have a hard time imagining that there is anyone interested in comedy juggling besides comedy jugglers…

This blog is not meant for street performers. Though I hope many of the ideas workshopped here will be useful to everyone I don’t think street performing works with the same rules as what I am broadly calling “theatrical” (read: indoor) work.

In my opinion street performing is a long con built not just to entertain but to get money out of pockets. Sure it can sometimes do both but the primary purpose of busking is to pass the hat*.

I think when you are trying to make money from the people at your show you are forced to make different decisions than when you are just trying to entertain them.

*fairs and festivals excluded.

What is Comedy Juggling?

And should it be capitalized? This is a huge question and one I intend to tackle more thoughtfully this summer…When Jay Gilligan and Erik <Impossible To Type On A North American Keyboard> release their lecture/essay defining juggling. Emil Dahl writes about that impending confusion on his blog.

Comedy juggling is a little easier and hopefully a lot less controversial to define. It is a simple equation:

Comedy + Whatever Jay and his European buddies define as Juggling = Comedy juggling.

So until this summer at the I.J.A. when we finally learn what juggling is this simple definition will have to do:

Comedy Juggling is the act of using juggling as a vehicle for comedy.

As opposed to Juggling Comedy which is using comedy as a vehicle for juggling. Or Talking While Juggling which is what most “comedy jugglers” are doing.

One Last Thing.

Finally, you may be unaware but there is a growing discussion in the juggling world about standardizing terms. What does “Qualify” mean? What is an “Isolation”? The most recent term of contention is “Cigar Boxes”.

The argument goes as follows: We no longer call them Indian Clubs or Chinese Diablos…

Pretty hard to argue against that logic. I want Balls & Jokes to be a safe space so call them whatever you want. It’d be funny to start calling them Fat Cancer Stick Boxes but that’s not likely to happen. On the site, to make the language as clear and clean as possible, I will be calling them boxes. See you later cigar. I will also be dropping the shaker from cups, the devil from sticks, and poi from the discussion at all.

See you on Wednesday with an attempt to pick the perfect length of time for a new act…

4 thoughts on “Some “A”s for your imaginary “Q”s

Add yours

  1. “I don’t think street performing works with the same rules as what I am broadly calling “theatrical” (read: indoor) work.

    In my opinion street performing is a long con built not just to entertain but to get money out of pockets. Sure it can sometimes do both but the primary purpose of busking is to pass the hat”

    YES YES YES!!! An argument I often involve myself in is that street performing is not the best way to make yourself a better performer. It makes you a better street performer. Sure there are some things you can get from street shows that carry into “real entertainment” but there are many more that can hold you back from anything other than more streets or cruise ships.

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  2. It is very difficult to transition successfully from the street as evidenced by the number of street performers still working the street. I think a part of the problem is that no one talks about it. What good lessons are there to be learned on the street? What bad habits do performers tend to pick up? Et cetera.

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    1. “What bad habits do performers tend to pick up?”

      I think one of the worst is thinking of an audience as an adversary as opposed to your friends. The desperation of the streets to work the “marks” like a stripper works their audience doesn’t transfer to the paid stage gig as well as many performers think it does. Even in the streets the confrontational character that worked for a charismatic performer like Robert Nelson just doesn’t work for me as well when done by the average hack. Using a more friendly character may negatively influence your hats in the short term but it allows you to work inside and without yelling the entire show.

      A lesser bad habit is yelling into headset mics. Less prevalent today as many street acts are mic’ed and they don’t have to yell.

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  3. “What good lessons are there to be learned on the street?”

    Flexibility and improv. The shear number of shows you can do on the street combined with the constant changes in temperature, sunlight, crowd size, and drunkenness can teach you to conform your show to your audience and how to read them and decide what changes to make. This is much harder to learn onstage where you often can’t see or hear the audience well so you get less feedback.

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