performers' library
Rex Boyd
How To Become A Street Performer
Rex Boyd

My main advice about becoming a street performer is this: Only do it if you enjoy it. Don't do it because you think you'll find a way to make some easy cash. You won't. There is nothing worse for a street performer than to be doing a show because he needs the money. The audience will sense this. Then, not only will they not enjoy the show, they will be even less likely to give you any money!

Being a street performer means you can decide not to do a show if you are not in the mood. On the other hand, if you really want to, you can do a street show almost anywhere that you can find a group of people who will sit/stand still long enough to watch you for 10 minutes or more. It doesn't even have to be outdoors. On that note, the best places to practice your show in the beginning days are not even on the street; do some free shows for friends or co-workers at a picnic or party or any other kind of get together. If that sounds too embarrassing, then you really don't want to be taking abuse and being ignored by complete strangers on the street, and you should forget about being any good at street performing.

You will need a lot of courage mixed with confidence and self respect to be able to do a good street show. When you have that confidence, you may find it a great joy and challenge to perform in a place where no one else would have thought it possible. The only limit to finding a good place to perform is your timing, luck, and imagination.

So, what should I do in my show?
This is a very obvious question to ask. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. More importantly though, you must know that what you do is utterly insignificant in comparison to *how* you do it. Skillful tricks, dangerous stunts, and fancy props are BORING. Yes, boring! On the street (even more than any other type of performance) people want to see personality, charisma, charm, excitement, and especially humor. These traits can not be bought, stolen, copied or easily acquired. You find them through a mixture of natural ability, experience, and inspiration from watching other performers. You should watch as many other performers as you can. Learn different techniques from all of them, but don't even bother trying to copy someone else. It won't work.

Should I quit my day job?
A lot of people do support themselves with very enjoyable lifestyles as street performers. You are your own boss, you travel to exciting events and exotic locations and you have a holiday when you feel like it. You also have an enormous amount of uncertainty and insecurity-- "How much money will I make this month?" --some months, maybe nothing.

Most performers who are good enough to earn a steady supply of money in the hat are also good enough to get paid gigs as well. In fact, let's put it this way, extremely few performers make all their money solely from the street. Some are good enough to do that, but you will most likely have a real job as well, or you will be offered paid work as a performer. Whether you continue doing the street as well, or give it up for other things, is answered differently by each individual.

In conclusion, I'll go back to my original point and say that the only reason to become a street performer is because you are desperate for a stage to try out your talents. You will know when it is time to give up the day job. Good luck, and most of all, have fun.

Rex Boyd

Rex Boyd is a variety entertainer who has spent the past 10 years street performing professionally all over Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and Europe. Originally from Kansas, USA, Rex currently lives in London, England.

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