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Evan Young 11-15-02 04:14 AM

Encouraging personal style
This relates to the "fair cuts $"
My two young partners need to develop themselves as performers, find out who they are and what their personal style is (I am also working on this).
A lot of people here in LA are quick to offer advice to performers whether they know what they're talking about or not, and it's very important to them that you hear them for some reason. I get a lot of, "look at what that other performer is doing, that's what you need to do". A couple people here have told me all about Chad Taylor and how I should do his tricks and his jokes and use his style. A lot of them tell me things that are true, and would be helpfull, but arn't any news to me. Most of this is b/c I'm young and my show sucks right now due to the fact that LA is completly different to what I'm used to.
Anyway, my point is that the hollywood philosophy of only trying to promote what is proven to sell to the mindless masses is rampant. There is value in following guidlines for structure, but there should also be encouragment to artistic endevor, whatever that means. It takes a lot of time to develope yourself as a performer and I wish I could explain that to people, but I especially want my two young partners to understand it.
So, I'm looking for ways to encourage real creativity.

Steven Ragatz 11-15-02 04:48 PM


You're a juggler, right? From a juggling stand point, if you want to promote creativity, then the first step is the throw away all of your props and start again.

You do a routine with juggling clubs? Well, so do they. You do fire? So do they. Unicycles? Knives? Yep. Yep. CHAINSAWS? Oh yeah... You want to be original? Start from the start. Don't try to beat everyone else at the game - play a different game all together. LDR says "There are no rules", instead I say "Make your own rules."

This commitment is in direct opposition to your apparent need to make money. Sorry, but them's the breaks. If you want the cash, then do what the guy next to you does, but a little better, and with a twist. Too much variance, and you risk alienating the crowd's expectations, too little, and it's plagiarism. But if you want to look to the horizon, then embrace your desire to be unique and be ruthless about it. Will it pay off in the long run? Who knows, but the journey will probably be much more interesting.

As far as getting someone else to "be creative", the only suggestion that I can make is to try to teach by example. Other people are going to do what they are going to do in spite of what you think or say. Hopefully, if you provide a good example, then they will become inspired by that, and follow in due course.

When in doubt, seek out education. Always strive to keep learning in either a formal, or informal environment. Only through seeing what the world has to offer can you be creative. I don't think anyone can create something from nothing. The spark of inspiration has to have knowledge to fuel the fire or else there is no flame.

Steven Ragatz

Evan Young 11-15-02 09:13 PM

Steve, thanks for your advise and insight.
My problem is that a lot of people who come and talk to me while I'm doing street show think the only solution to a problem lies in the way Chad Taylor does it. The way Chad Taylor makes it work isn't nessisarily going to work for me. My partner Eric keeps trying to use lines that Two's a Croud use and get big reactions with just down the street. Two shows using the exact same lines within two hundred yards of eachother makes us both look bad.

I use stolen gags, jokes, tricks, methods etc. just like everyone else. Some of it is origional, but it's still a juggling show; and I understand what that means. I still want to stand out at least a little, at least from the people next to me.
I'm just frustrated with people who keep trying to push their agenda on me. I don't understand why it's so important to the spray paint artist that I use a fake bowling ball and drop it on my head while clicking the other two together. Get over it Malibu, it's my show, leave me alone cuz I'm sick of pretending to listen to you; I don't care if it's one of chad taylor's best gags.

Does this make any sence? Can anyone esle out there relate to this?

Steven Ragatz 11-15-02 10:51 PM

If "it" is Chad Taylor's gag, then why do it at all? Is it for lack of ideas, or lack of faith in those ideas?

Here is my point of view:

Let's assume that you, like most of us, decide that you like juggling/variety performing, and that you continue to be more and more successful with it. It's a typical scenario, we all start out just to try it, begin to gain notoriety, and then very soon discover that we are able to make a living with it. But then what? Do you want to be stuck always having to apologies for being a Chad Taylor clone? Or have reviews written about your show labeling you "Chad-lite?" At the moment, if you are hungry because you simply are not making much money, the prospect of doing anything to bring in an extra couple of bucks in each hat has got to look good. But, I put in front of you the following challenge: have faith in yourself. Know that you will succeed and that you don't need to ride on anyone's tailcoat - at any point. Consider adopting the mantra "If someone else does it, run like hell away from it."

If I remember correctly, you gave up your job as a cook with the sole intent of hitting the road to embrace street performing as a career. This shows amazing guts and fortitude. I'm really impressed with that kind of determination (that's why I'm taking the time to write this). Take that same approach to creating your act. You probably didn't listen to the nay-sayers who told you leaving home was a bad idea. On the contrary, you decided to take your future into your own hands and keep it under your own control. Again, I say take that same approach to creating your act.

Case in point, consider the fact that many people appear to be associating you with Chad. By itself, this could very well be an indication that the look and style that you have chosen for your act is so similar that your would always be pigeon holed into his category. I assume that Chad is more experienced and has a more developed act than you? If you let yourself mirror him, you will always have to play second fiddle. Why allow that at all? You're just starting out, so let your inhibitions go and discover new territory that the Chad Taylor's of the world are too afraid to go because they are established! You are at a very important, and powerful position, because you have nothing to loose.

When you say that two shows with exactly the same lines within two hundred yards of each other makes you both look bad, you clearly tell me where you are and what sort of model you are using to build your career. Unfortunately, it is a model with which I am very familiar.

Lines aren't it. Single lines and jokes aren't enough. It also has to do with your look, style, character, act structure, and most importantly, the premise of your show. At MotionFest last week, Scott Meltzer claimed that "Hey kids, don't try this at home - do it at your neighbor's" and "Hey kids, don't try this at home - unless your parents aren't there" is the same joke. Just because a couple of the words have changed, doesn't make it a new joke. He didn't go so far as to clarify why, but I think that since the premise is the same, it is therefore the same joke. I would take that notion a step further and claim that if an entire routine has the same premise/structure, and even uses the same props, that it is the same routine! Consider the prospect of having to perform your act in a show that Chad has been booked for as well. Imagine him going on first. How would your act fare? Even if you had completely different jokes, do you think that the audience would react as strongly after seeing a juggling act like Chad's just in front of yours?

I've gotten tired of the ongoing argument about stealing. Stealing isn't the problem - it's lack of faith. There are an infinite number of ideas out there, and yet, it is so easy to get warped into the ones that you feel familiar with. You see something work, so you copy it, and begin to try to modify it bit by bit in an attempt to make it part of you. Lots of guys will go on about how you are hurting the guy to took the idea from, but in reality, you are hurting yourself. Not because of the modified material that you are doing, but because of the material that you missed doing because you were going down the same route that the other guy did.

And here's the catch! Nobody, myself included, can tell you what is "right"! Isn't that funny? I can wax on for pages, pointing my finger and shaking it at you, in hopes that you will become enlightened, yet it is impossible for me to actually give you any concrete ideas that you can use.

Shit this stuff is scary, and if it doesn't scare you, then it should. Of course it's a kick in your ass to have someone get on line and ask you to rethink everything you thought you were trying to master about your act, but I want you to really convince yourself to have faith in your own abilities. Make your act your own so that you can simply smile politely to all the other acts whether they be good or bad because you know that you are blazing your own trail.

Steven Ragatz

the amazing beaumanz 11-16-02 09:23 AM

very well put!

Doctor Eric 11-16-02 12:58 PM

Here's just a bit of an addendum to Steven's great advice evan...
You are now a part of the "busker community" (it's a little like prison..) I wish to take this chance to give you my full encouragement for your originality... Because it is one of the few times you are going to get it. Street guys are going to constantly tell you to rip off this or that, until you persevere long enough to write your own show that works, then they will tell the new strugglers to rip off your bits. Just remain true to what you want to do and get used to hearing it. I haven't even seen what you are doing now, and I'm in full support. Good luck.

Evan Young 11-16-02 11:50 PM

Thanks guys. You made my day.

Mark Wessels 11-20-02 08:58 PM

This is inspiring to me and I'm sure it would help other performers. Library? If you would be willing to edit a bit Steven it might be an invaluable resource.

Struggler, I like that.

Mark (struggler)

Steven Ragatz 11-20-02 10:19 PM

[quote]Mark Wessels wrote:
If you would be willing to edit a bit Steven it might be an invaluable resource.

Are you implying that I didn't check my speling or that my grammar wasn't done good?


Mark Wessels 11-22-02 11:41 PM

I know that was a joke but I hate sounding like a jerk, I meant more like taking out the parts that refered to specific situations and making it a bit more general. (I would never imply)

mark (struggling)

BlahBlah 01-08-08 05:41 PM

Wow, there was great advice floating about even way back in 2002!

This is just what I needed.

Devinthejuggler 09-23-09 03:40 PM

awesome shit to read! just consider yourselves lucky that there are other buskers just 200m down the road...

yeah, a juggling act with all new props...battling to wrap my mind around that one after 10 years of slogging at the standard props... i think the way to get an entirely new original juggling act would be to not juggle at all.

Storm Surge 09-27-09 04:01 PM

try random $hit.

Originally Posted by Devinthejuggler (Post 55008)
awesome shit to read! just consider yourselves lucky that there are other buskers just 200m down the road...

yeah, a juggling act with all new props...battling to wrap my mind around that one after 10 years of slogging at the standard props... i think the way to get an entirely new original juggling act would be to not juggle at all.

Or you could make a list of everything in your house that you can currently lift and roll dice every day to find out which of the items get packed to go out with you.

I think a taco, a plunger and a bottle of pepto would have a lot of great material available to it.

Rex Boyd 09-30-09 03:49 AM

Using juggling or magic or whatever other established routines are out there is an easy trap to fall into because it works well to get you started in an interaction with the audience, especially on the street. Ultimately though the audiences don't really care at all about any of those tricks when it comes to presenting a whole show. Think about how it works in the circus. Any one routine is only going to last for a few minutes before the audience gets bored and they want to move on to see what's next. By the time the next routine starts they have already forgotten about the previous amazing tricks. The original channel surfing I suppose.

If you want to really win over the audience you've got to stop hiding behind the tricks and routines. Lay yourself or indeed some sort of character of yourself out bare for the audience to be interested in, fascinated or charmed by. People are interested in other people because there is an endless supply of different personalities and points of view to discover. And when your show is focused upon your character rather than the tricks then it will be nearly impossible for someone else to steal your show. Even if they are doing exactly the same tricks they still won't be doing your show if the show is about your character and interaction with the audience.

Be confident, bold, arrogant, rude, flirty, childish, scared, scary, proud, baffling, charming, but most of all BE something. Don't just DO something.

Steven Ragatz 09-30-09 11:42 AM

"BE something, don't just DO something."

I like this. I believe in this. I understand this. I'm not sure I can DO this!

It gets right down to the core of the matter of performing versus demonstrating. Engage, Enlighten, Entertain (and other 'E' words.) An ongoing struggle.

Steven Ragatz

Rex Boyd 09-30-09 07:25 PM

Quite right Steven, "an ongoing struggle" for us all.

Doctor Eric 10-17-09 05:39 AM

"BE something, don't just DO something."

That's a good way t put it, the way I've always said it is

"Whatever you do, doesn't really matter, it should always be secondary to who you are."

So maybe I would change your statement to say "be SOMEBODY, don't just do some THING."

Being a full time comic, and a full time street performer is odd, the comics I hang out with are full of hate, especially when it comes to variety acts, quite often I am much happier hanging out with street performers, and variety acts, who at least know how to have a good time... but, on the other hand, comics, in general, seem to get this concept a little more than variety performers (trust me, I'm not say MUCH more, I know hundreds of crap stand ups, too), but hanging out at open mics, or showcases, just telling jokes, or doing whatever, can be really good for your head in this aspect. At the end of the day, think about what you like. Do you want to see a trick, or do you want to make a connection with someone? If, like I suspect, you would rather make a connection, and get a sense of some thing deeper, then, in order to offer that as a performer, you have to do things, in performance, that are scary. Like exposing yourself. Give it a try, peel back the armor a little bit, and do it until you get a favorable reaction. Let me know how it feels, once you get it.

Doctor Eric 10-17-09 05:41 AM

Wow, I'm not even going to spell check that, or try to make it make sense. Obviously, I'm a bit drunk, and have been holed up in the house without talking to humans for too long. Whatever, hopefully there's something useful in all that babble.

Devinthejuggler 10-17-09 03:18 PM

jesus. ok. ill give you guys a shout in couple of years when i find the character that lurkes at the bottom of my bag, at the moment i seem to pull a different one out each show.

thanks for the advice.

jeep caillouet 10-18-09 11:43 AM

You know what Sonny Holiday said...
In Key West we have a juggler next to a juggler next to another juggler and so on. There is little creativity in the jugglers here. If fact we have one juggler here who thinks you stole his show, you can't use my lines etc... Tom From NOLA was here once and was doing his show on a 6ft unicycle, fixing to juggle 3 flaming clubs when he looked over and saw Alex juggling ,3 flaming clubs riding his6 ft. unicycle,so he told his crowd ,''you wanna see some juggling then watch him '', pointing to Alex!!!! got off his unicycle and passed his hat.
The juggling mentality in Key West is "juggle,juggle,juggle,watch me I'm better,pass the hat. The space between our shows in Key West is about 10 ft. We have 9 spaces and 3 that are in the weeds, you might say, for large acts, and we have5 jugglers that work daily. Me, Rondini ,Dr.Juice, Casy and Will Dark.Rondini and Casy both do straight jackets. We are the only acts that don't juggle. and it's not uncommon for there to be more than one show at going once.There will by more jugglers and straight jackets when season starts ..."once you've seen one juggler you seen them all, they all do the same thing,juggle'' :D

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