The Juggler's Little Instruction Book
by Dan Holzman
"Fire is cool! Heh, heh, heh." -- Beavis and Butthead
- Glass jars are fine for making Molotov cocktails, not for dipping torches.
- Juggling smoking black sticks isn't very impressive. Plan out your torch routine so that the torches remain burning until you are done using them.
- Old torches have been known to break in mid-air. Replace them before this happens. A blazing torch wick flying into your audience can add excitement to your show, but it is not recommended.
- Catching a knife by the blade or hitting a volunteer without any resulting bloodshed can greatly diminish the illusion that the knife is razor sharp.
- Attempting to mount a giraffe unicycle while wearing pants that bag in the crotch (i.e., sweatpants) can cause serious injury.
- If you have someone help you mount a giraffe unicycle, make sure they keep their fingers away from the chain.
- Use the traffic flow that results from the end of someone else's show to help gather a crowd, but don't step on the other performers' hat pass.
- Just because you are an artist doesn't mean you have to dress like a bum.
- For bigger tips, end with something the audience thinks is dangerous.
- Use the ship rocking to your advantage to add comedy to your routines, or make a trick seem more difficult to perform.
- Performers are often re-hired on the strength of the passenger's comment cards.
Practicing and Perfecting Your Routines
"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." -- John Wooden
- Run through your routines under simulated performance conditions. Wear your costume and use the props you'll be using during your performance.
- If a funny situation or line occurs spontaneously during a performance, figure out a way to repeat it every show.
- Put as much time and effort into the elements you add to your juggling routine (i.e., comedy or dance) as you do into the juggling itself.
- There is nothing wrong with a routine not being funny, unless of course it's supposed to be funny.
Before the Show
- Type out your introduction and your light and sound cues.
- If you use volunteers in your show make sure they will have easy access to the stage.
- Look backstage for unusual objects you can incorporate into your show.
- Try to watch any performers or speakers who are on before you. Be aware of anything that you might be able to use as a call-back.
- Make sure your fly is zipped up, your teeth are clean, and nothing is hanging out of your nose.
During the Show
- If something is obvious to the audience (i.e. you've split your pants) you might as well mention it and try to get some comedy out of the situation.
- If you pretend that a bad crowd is a good one, sometimes they are fooled into believing it themselves.
After the Show
- Accept compliments graciously whether you thought you did a good show or not.
- If any new comedy ideas occurred to you during the show, tape or write them down immediately afterwards.
- It doesn't matter how much someone says they are going to pay you if you never get paid.
- If you get every job you ask for, you are probably not asking for enough money.
- If someone asks you how much you charge, remember, you can always come down from a price you quote -- but it's hard to go up.
- Get professional photographs, including a headshot, in both black and white and color.
- Develop items that can be sold or used as promotional tools (t-shirts, videos, etc.)
- If you can't be original, at least use old ideas in a new and original way.
- Don't let the lack of an idea on how to present a skill prevent you from working on the skill itself.
- IF YOU BORROW SOMEONE ELSE'S "JUGGLERS' LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK," SEND $7.95 TO THE AUTHOR.
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