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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Spontaneity as a Street Performer (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Tim Friday
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One distinction I notice about the street performers who are the best at winning over their crowd is they perform with an air of spontaneity.

They might already know what lines they will use but they don't know if they will have a spectator in the audience that will fit that line. Example: when Gazzo looks at the old man who has shorts pulled up above his belly button, black shin high socks, and a ridiculous hat he says "there he is the woman hunter!, watch out ladies he's on the prowl picking up chicks!"

Or when a kid makes noise with his balloon and Bobby Maverick looks at the kid funny and everyone starts laughing.

Or when Kozmo says "hey rich guy with the hot chick!"

All these happen in the moment, and I believe the spontaneity is a big reason why it's funnier. In some cases they might already have the line planned out & memorized but because it is personal towards a certain type of audience member, they don't know if they will use it or not.

I have observed other performers (myself included) just recite the lines that I have planned out ahead of time, and it get's some laughs, but nowhere near as much when it is spontaneous and personal to a certain audience member.

It seems that the best street performers have a higher developed ability to be able to listen & observe each unique audience member, and then respond accordingly with appropriate humor that hits the audience hard. A distinct difference from just memorizing one-liners & reciting them in the right spot in the show.

Just my observation at my current stage of development, please discuss.
dmoses
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I'll only add that not only is spontaneity important-- but perceived spontaneity is just as important.

Like after watching a great comedian do several shows in a row-- it's quickly revealed how that brilliant apparent ad lib is, in fact, carefully scripted.

d
"You're a comedian. You wanna do mankind a service, tell funnier jokes."
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Chris Capstone
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Perceived spontaneity is a great way to describe what's going on. But in a way it actually is spontaneous, even though you didn't just think of it in that moment.

After years of performing you build up a mental file cabinet of reactions, lines, bits, facial expressions, comedic movements, etc... You get to the point where you have something to say or do in almost any situation.

Even though the line or bit may come from your mental file cabinet the act of quickly recalling it and using it in the moment is a spontaneous act. This comes through to the audience by the way you deliver the line or bit. It seems to them that you just thought of it. Actually you just remembered it but they can't tell the difference.

Sometimes other performers ask me "Where did you get all those funny things you said and did in your show?" They ask as if they think I just put this whole thing together last week after having read a book or watched a DVD. They are hoping for a short cut. There isn't one.

Their question should actually be "HOW LONG did it take for you to be able to say and do all those funny things?"

The sources of these lines and bits are are numerous. Sometimes they do come from a book or someone else (with permission of course.) But the best ones come from that flash of inspiration you have during a show. These kind are the best because they come from your unique personality. When this happens I make a mental note of it and use it the next time I have the opportunity.

After many years and thousands of performances you fill up that mental file cabinet. The challenge for me now that I'm getting older is managing my files! I've got more funny stuff to say and do than I can remember.
Chris Capstone
Tim Friday
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Quote:
On 2011-08-08 16:53, chriscapstone wrote:
Perceived spontaneity is a great way to describe what's going on. But in a way it actually is spontaneous, even though you didn't just think of it in that moment.

After years of performing you build up a mental file cabinet of reactions, lines, bits, facial expressions, comedic movements, etc... You get to the point where you have something to say or do in almost any situation.

Even though the line or bit may come from your mental file cabinet the act of quickly recalling it and using it in the moment is a spontaneous act. This comes through to the audience by the way you deliver the line or bit. It seems to them that you just thought of it. Actually you just remembered it but they can't tell the difference.

Sometimes other performers ask me "Where did you get all those funny things you said and did in your show?" They ask as if they think I just put this whole thing together last week after having read a book or watched a DVD. They are hoping for a short cut. There isn't one.

Their question should actually be "HOW LONG did it take for you to be able to say and do all those funny things?"

The sources of these lines and bits are are numerous. Sometimes they do come from a book or someone else (with permission of course.) But the best ones come from that flash of inspiration you have during a show. These kind are the best because they come from your unique personality. When this happens I make a mental note of it and use it the next time I have the opportunity.

After many years and thousands of performances you fill up that mental file cabinet. The challenge for me now that I'm getting older is managing my files! I've got more funny stuff to say and do than I can remember.


Very well said. Another way of saying it would be we have a contingency plan for every situation, and after years of performing, you come to know every situation that will come up. I think the contingency plan is often used for describing 'having an out' in case a trick goes wrong but I think it's just as or more important for the comedy.
EVILDAN
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Speaking from personal experience, our act has grown over the years mainly due to street performing. When you perform the same effects time and time again on the same day over a course of days, something spontaneous is going to jump out at you. It could be a line, a different approach to the overall effect, or perhaps a bit to make the effect funny or perhaps a new phase for your effect. When it happens, go with it and see how people react. Keep a notebook and write them down. In time people will be in awe at your originality and spontenaity.
by EVILDAN....
"The Coin Board Book" - moves and routines with the coin panel board. - http://www.lybrary.com/the-coin-board-book-p-827955.html
"SLASHER - A Horror Whodunnit" - a bizarre close-up routine based on Bob Neale's "Sole Survivor."
PM me for more info.
"Zombie Town" - a packet effect about how a small town turned into zombies. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nzJhcoJtyOM
Sammy the Kid
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Tim, I'm with Evil Dan on this.. write down anything you hear that is funny as soon as you possibly can. I've already made a note of the "Contributor" line I accidentally popped out with when you saw me last week. Of course, I have to be a bit choosy where to use it, I'm sure.
Ms. Merizing
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Think 'scored improv'.
Pleased to continue finding that all the world's a stage.
Devious
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One helpful hint is to always ask if they are visiting from out of the area. If so, how much more spontaneous can that be than to discuss the unique qualities of that particular part of the world from whence they came. If they are from the same community there's much humour in discussing local politics, yes?

"Friday" you summed it up with your last paragraph. To be observant of your audience shows that you care enough to notice them. Notice them in your patter whilst entertaining them alongside that.

R2
Devious Deceptions
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L'Chaim!
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