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Old 12-09-04, 05:28 AM   #1
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Default STREET COMEDY

Does any one have any information on street comedy. Have you seen any street comedians perform. I've been performing stand up in clubs for almost three years and I've been considering taking it to the streets so that I can take my performance skills to the next level. Any tips?

Thanks
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Old 12-09-04, 08:55 AM   #2
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Default The windy city

Chicago has a few street buskers - jugglers & mimes - but if your material is family-friendly you can contact:

1) Navy Pier. They hire roving & stage performers year round.

2) Mayor's Office of Special Events. They're always looking for new performers for Taste of Chicago, Kids & Kites Festival, etc.

3) Neighborhood summer street/park festivals. They don't have big budgets, but they need anything fresh.

See you at The Billy Goat.
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Old 12-09-04, 11:58 AM   #3
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Thumbs Up I've seen quite a few ...

The best (by far) I believe was Michael Colyar who does a lot of bit parts on TV and film now ... he is kind of a dick (personally) but his charisma on the street was undeniable.

P.S. don't let the fact that he donated half of his $100,000 winnings on Star Search to the homeless on Venice Beach change your opinion about him ... he is still a prick (albeit a generous one).
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Old 12-09-04, 07:32 PM   #4
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Talking Still performing?

Check out Hot Nuts and Popcorn (although I think they stick to clubs, now) and Mike Wood. Two of the funniest acts I've ever seen.
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Old 12-10-04, 06:19 AM   #5
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Albert Owen used to do excellent stand-up shows in Washington Square park. Anyone know if he is still around.

There was also another legendary New Yorker who I once saw in a comedy club but I heard he was a master on the street as well. Unfortunately my old brain can't remember his name right now. I know this guy has passed away unfortunately.

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Old 12-10-04, 11:31 AM   #6
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Love one of the best

That would be the legendary Charlie Barnett ... although I am not the authority on this matter, I rate him as one of the top three street acts of my generation ... he was simply the funniest act I saw to come out of the city (NY) ... strangely enough (like Tic n' Tac) he got his first big break on a music venue (Don Kirschner's Rock Concert) and his meteoric rise (via the movie DC Cab) led him to become a regular on Miami Vice ... he was a shooting star that burnt out way too soon. I loved him ... so did everyone who knew him ... I can still hear them calling out his name as they gathered 'round the fountain in Washington Square Park ...

Charlie ... Charlie ... Charlie ...
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Old 12-11-04, 06:14 AM   #7
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thanks for filling us in Robert.

I'd love to hear more about Charlie or any other street comedians if anyone can help us out.

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Old 12-11-04, 11:35 AM   #8
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Thumbs Up The legend of Charlie Barnett

Interestingly enough, Charlie was revered by many of the more mainstream comics as well ... among them were Dave Chappelle (who also had some street experience early on) and Robert Townsand (who actually had a TV memorial tribute to Charlie BEFORE he died ... the general public never got the joke).

Albert Owens, who you mentioned before, is (as far as I know) still keeping Charlie's memory alive through his street comedy. In Charlie’s final days, he helped wheel him down to the Square once a year to perform ... amazingly, Charlie's oxygen masked, emaciated framecould still rock the crowds.

What a talent! He will be missed but never forgotten ... especially if Chappelle's dream of making a movie about him comes to fruition.
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Old 12-13-04, 05:31 AM   #9
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I found an interveiw with Chappelle where he mentions Barnett a couple of times.

It's at: http://www.deathvalleydriver.com/mul...Chappelle.html


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Old 12-13-04, 05:42 AM   #10
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Here's a bit more I found from some website but it's out of date so it had to come from the cache on Google

Rex




Chappelle and Brennan both said they’d consider writing another movie. Chappelle said he’d like to do a movie about one of his mentors, comedian Charlie Barnett.

“I first saw him on cable. He used to be on Miami Vice,” Chappelle said. “In his heyday as an artist, the only other really famous black comedian was Eddie Murphy so I noticed this guy. The dude is really funny. Then after a while I just stopped hearing about him.

“When I moved to New York, in ’91, I walked into a comedy club, and he was just standing at the top of the steps. I had heard that his life had changed, he’s addicted to crack, he had AIDS, all this crazy stuff had happened to him. But he used to watch me. At that time he was trying to kick drugs. He had learned that when you’re a drug addict you pick your friends by your addiction. ... [H]e liked hanging out with me, because I wasn’t doing drugs, so he felt like I‘d keep him clean. I was only 18 at the time.”


The basic Chappelle.Chappelle said he spent summer 1992 doing street comedy with Barnett in Washington Square Park in New York City. Barnett taught him how to appeal to people and capture their attention.

“As far as personal growth, and also artistic growth, that was a real pivotal summer in my life, and the movie that I want to do about Charlie deals more with the strength of what he gave me. It was like a gift to my life,” Chappelle said. “I had to watch him deal with a lot of hard things in his life, which I can draw from today when I’ve got to deal with things that are hard to me, but not that hard.”

Chappelle said there are now three drafts of a script for a movie about Barnett. He said he anticipates that the hardest part of the project will be finding someone to play Barnett in the movie. The ideal actor or comedian would be able to both portray Barnett’s character and his humor.

Chappelle said he’s not in any rush to make the movie because “I can only do it once so I just want to do it right.”
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Old 12-13-04, 08:45 AM   #11
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Talking Charlie & Chapelle

Hey Rex,
Thanks for that ... anytime I read about Charlie I remember the "old" days ... early eighties ... I'll never forget how Charlie "pulled" my crowd away from me ... and how I actually left all my equipment unattended (in Washington Square Park for gawdsakes!) to go watch him for the first time ... I was mesmerized ... his only prop a paper bagged wine bottle (with water in it) ... damn ... that was so funny the way he passed the hat (the bag really) then stuffed all the cash down the front of his pants and did another 5 minutes ...
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Old 12-13-04, 10:23 AM   #12
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I've been doing some more searching...

This article on the net is from 1992. I don't know how it's still around, but the performers are still around so why not the article. It's more about Washington Square Park in general but it mentions Albert Owens.


http://www.fee.org/vnews.php?nid=2570



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Old 12-13-04, 10:43 AM   #13
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Another good article about Barnett....

http://twodrinkmin.com/issue10/pages/monologue1.php


The article also mentions several other stand-ups who deserve to be better known. One of them was Rick Aviles who I was also lucky enough to see once in a comedy club in NY and I agree he was phenomenally good. Like Richard Pryor he managed to find comedy out of life's great pains and carried the show from riotous laughter to thrilled silence and the audience close to tears. Like Barnett, I think he has also passed away and I think it may have also been down to drugs and AIDS.


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Old 12-13-04, 12:16 PM   #14
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Hat the unknown greats

Wow ... great articles Rex, thanks for taking the time ...

I was just wondering (and we can start another thread here if you like) if you or others feel the same about former street performers like Leo Bassi, Phillipe Petit or Jango Edwards ... haven't they also "changed the face of street performing" forever?

I might want to also include Chris Lyman and KeanO but (unlike the others) I hear they are still pumping out street shows now and then.
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Old 12-14-04, 05:10 AM   #15
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I occasionally come across Lynam's name around the comedy circuit in England but I don't think he's doing a lot of gigs here. His website seems to be focused on Germany and I know he has done some gigs in Spain in the past few years although I haven't seen him perform for more than 10 years I think.

I saw Keeno in September when I last went down to Covent Garden. He was in great spirits and pumping out some team shows with little Johnny. Keeno really seemed to be enjoying himself.

I have never seen Jango although his name still pops up. I just saw that his website is in the process of being redone and is a bit under construction still but he seems to be doing a lot all over Europe and gives workshops which I have looked into taking but haven't been able to arrange it yet. One day I hope.

Leo Bassi I have seen, but not for a quite a few years either. His website has accounts of his untoppable street stunts which seem to verge on political revolution.

Just looking up now at that list of names above and I think the main connection between them all is the willingness to push their performance and the audience right out to the limit. Doing things you shouldn't do. Things no one else would do. Things no one else could get away with. I think it's all about the feeling Chappelle mentioned in one of his interviews: lack of fear. Bring it on. Let's see what happens.

Here's to pushing the limits everyone. And yes anyone else who has some storie about these guys working indoors or out please let us know. Nick Nickolas must know some good stories about Keano and Lynam. In fact I can remember at my first ever buskers festival in Key West 1987 that Gazzo was entertaining the party with stories about the legendary exploits of Chris the Piss (aka Lynam).

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Old 12-14-04, 06:18 AM   #16
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Chris played the Prince Patrick Hotel during the Melb. Comedy Festival circa 1993. Bev and I went with Phee Broadway to see him. He was brilliant and manic but the stage seem to restrict the show, intensifying it without doing much for it. None the less, he was the "must see" show that year.
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Old 12-14-04, 09:58 AM   #17
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Embarrassed I don't want to live in fear

Rex,
Yes, you understood exactly what I meant ... pushing the envelope beyond a typical audience members expectations (balloon doggies?) ... the above subject "I don't want to live in fear" was, I believe, coined by Jango years ago and relates directly to his early days as a street performer (pre-Friends Roadshow?) where he would do just about anything (a la KeaneO/Lynam) to get a laugh/tear.

The reason I include Philippe Petit into that illustrious group is well, hmmm, I guess he deserves some credit for walking between the twin towers ... though I could understand an argument that that was "fear" of a different kind. He was an innovator, nonetheless, and hats off to him for that.

Leo Bassi, to me anyway, stands almost alone as a provocateur extraordinaire ... the tales I was told as I traveled through Italy & Europe ('80's) were nothing less than, well, unbelievable ... when I finally did see him in person, I was not disappointed ... though I didn't expect this "legend" to be so, uh, ordinary looking ... he should've at least had 6 toes or something.

KeaneO ... well, I have a bit of a problem with him (who doesn't) but mine includes a kind of hero worship ... I have shared a pitch with him and even done duo shows with this magnificent performer ... he is, in my eyes, (along with Charlie Barnett), one of the true kings of the street of the last 25 years ... he might have been born as an illegitimate protégé of Chris the Piss but KeaneO has (in some ways) outdone his master.
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Old 12-14-04, 11:47 PM   #18
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Robin Williams did street and so did The guy that played Earnest in all those earnest movies.

Doing standup in the streets is the hardest. Keep in mind it's not about getting through your material. It's about connecting with the crowd. Alot about your energy is the same, but at the beginning, everything will seem different. Change with it. Be docile to the changes and stringent with your character.
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Old 12-15-04, 07:32 AM   #19
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Default True and False

What scot says about doing street I believe also to be true ... especially what he says about the importance of crowd connection. I also like what he says about "being docile to the changes and stringent with your character", though I'm not sure exactly sure what he means by that.

However, to my knowledge, Robin Williams and Jim Varney (Earnest P. Worrell) were never street performers (in the true sense of the word).

Robin sometimes came down to the Cannery to see comic Frank Kidder and magician Harry Anderson ... but that was his only real street connection. Sometimes he would do some funny Shakespeare shit, but it was only once in a blue moon when the weather was perfect.

Jim Varney, on the other hand, never did any street performing. He was a very private person and would never do stuff like that in public. He did, however, have some variety skills (like ball spinning and nun chucks).
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Old 12-15-04, 11:23 AM   #20
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Default Robin in a restaurant

I live in Milwaukee WI where the legendary restaurant Kalt's (now closed) used to host ComedySportz - an "audience participation" improv group that is now national. Robin Williams (whose wife is from Milwaukee) was having dinner with family one night at Kalt's in the 80's while ComedySportz was performing, and he got up & joined the act. Although this was not a street performance, it was pretty close.
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