Combination Trick #2 

Three Balls, One Ring, and a Balance. All While Thinking About Something Else!  

This blog is a month old. That (according to an email from Word Press) is about when the average blogger gives up…

Challenge accepted. It’s been interesting writing the blog so far and as long as it continues to be interesting I will keep doing it. I have a lot more to say and I’m excited to expand the site. One of the things I want this site to be a community. I want to encourage comedy jugglers to talk about and debate our craft. This month we managed to get a really interesting thread going on Facebook about audience volunteers. I’d love to have more of that but I am unsure how. Which brings me to the first real part of this Combination Trick…

Thinking About Something Else! 

I want to make sure that I do not neglect the community part of this site but it is the only thing I don’t know how to do. It’s like they say “Blogs are just like assholes…every body has one”. I know how to use a blog and do so three times a week (that’s a healthy amount right? Some people do it everyday…crazy!) but what I don’t know how to do is blog and have people come over and talk about it before I flush it. 

Would you, the reader, be more inclined to: 

  1. Have conversations in the comments section of the blog? 
  2. Over an email list serv? 
  3. On a private FB page? 

Would you, the reader, prefer to be conacted about new posts…

  1. Via email? 
  2. By being tagged on Facebook? 
  3. Not at all? 

Finally, which of these weekly features is most interesting to you? 

  1. An interview about comedy juggling? 
  2. A product review? 
  3. A challenge or experiment to try in your show?

You can email your answers/alternatives to Balls & Jokes at ballsandjokes@gmail.com  

A Balance

I was told in circus school that the best place to PERFORM a balance was on the forehead. Their main reason was so that your face was still visible to the audience. After I graduated I added these reasons to list:

  • It makes it easier to talk while performing the balance. 
  • If you talk with a chin balance many audience members will think the balance is fake. 
  • Depending on the distance from you chin to your forehead you can add a couple of visual inches to the balance without having to have a bigger prop. It looks like the balance is more difficult because it appears to be a bigger object or higher up.   

I was also taught that the chin was for balancing WHILE juggling, the nose was for light objects, and the forehead for large objects. I would learn any balance you do on all three positions and choose which ever works best for the act. 

One Ring

You don’t see a lot of comedy ring juggling routines. I’ve never understood why. They are easy to pack, super visual, and they look impressive. Additionally the color changing rings is legitimately a crowd pleaser. One theory is that because most  comedy juggling routines evolved from street performing where rings are pretty much impossible. Another theory is that no one wanted to be confused with Dan Bennet.

Three Balls…err Pro Tips. 

My framework for the post is collapsing a bit…

Pro Tip#4

When working with an international cast take the time to learn “Hello”and “Thanks” in everyone’s native language. Just that simple act of kindness and consideration can make a world of difference. 

Pro Tip#5

Keep a notebook. You’ll see this advice everywhere but that’s because it is fantastic advice. Take notes after every show and try to write everyday. I’ve been doing it for almost 9 years and I regularly go back to old notebooks where I find ideas I wasn’t able to execute at the time but now have the experience and skills to try. It’s a great feeling to steal ideas from yourself. 

Pro Tip#6 

You’ve probably heard “The audience is always right” or “Never blame the audience”. Both are true and I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a “bad” audience only an entertainer who wasn’t able to meet the audience where they were at. This isn’t the Pro Tip though. 

“Never talk about how good or bad the audience was for you”. 

That’s the Pro Tip. Chances are you will work in a show with other people. Chances are that not all of those people will be equally loved by the audience. It’s bad form to talk about how the audience was after you’ve finished because it makes the OTHER people in the show who haven’t gone on think they will get the same treatment. Or the people who have already performed and didn’t receive that treatment will question why they didn’t. It’s just uncomfortable all around. Try to stick to observations about things that you did and not how the audience was when people ask you the inevitable: “How were they?” 

And Finally…

From the Field 

I am currently performing in a German Variete Theatre. This is the 4th year I’ve been in this particular show and in the show I perform the first two original acts I ever created. I’ve been performing these two numbers for 11 years. I actually retired them both about 6 years ago. However, I had already signed contracts with the German company to perform them and so I have to dust them off once a year for a run of about 100 shows. We are a little over half way done and I just found a new joke in one of the routines. It blew me away. If you take all of the permutations of the routine and all of the jokes that have come and gone it would be probably take about 30 minutes to complete. I thought I had razed, plundered, and salted the earth of that routine but to quote my favorite movie “Life finds a way”. The lesson: there is always another joke. For the first time ever I understood why an act would perform the same 7 minute act for her entire career. If you let it, the routine will surprise you with the occasional gift. 

I’d tell you the joke but it’s in German and it’s a Portmanteau. Which is hard to do because the German language has no rules for combining words. 

The Take-Away 

Help me create an online community of comedy jugglers by answering my easy Q’s 

Balance stuff on your forehead! 

Ring juggling is under-utilized as a vehicle for comedy juggling. 

When working internationally, make an effort to learn the languages around you. Learning to say please & thank you or hello goes a long way. My willingness to learn German is one of the reasons I keep being hired back at the G.O.P Variety Theater. 

Keep a notebook. Write down all of your ideas and journal after every show. 

Never blame the audience or talk about how good or bad they were to your colleagues. 

There is always the possibility of one more joke. Never stop working. 

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