Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Designing A Routine...With Me As The Guinee Pig... Part 1

For the last two and a half years I've been performing in a very elaborate immersive theatrical show called The Speakeasy. 

I play...Bosley The Magnificent.  A ne'er do well drunk magician that gets in lots of trouble.  you may notice the resemblance to my name Boswick...Bosley.  Get it. 

I have a number of stage routines I do in our cabaret. 

The show is going through a rewrite and Nick (the creator of the show) has me doing some other routines as he cuts actors.  At our high point we had 38 actors.  We are a mere 25 now. 

So he said for my new contract.  I can do my magic act, we'll expand it a bit to cover time, And he said, you do a juggling act. 

Now. I'm a good juggler.  By clown standards I'm good.  By juggler standards, I'm a beginner.  mediocre at best.

The question in my lap.  How do I create a 5 to 6 minute silent juggling routine?

I watched a few vaudeville comedy jugglers on youtube.  But I realized I can cobble together a few vaudeville routines using my strength as a clown and mediocre juggler.  Just doing one or two tricks but leading up to these tricks in a huge comic way. 

I did a very large show in Chinatown the other day for a group of about 200 plus kids and their families.  The timing was off, they had me waiting in a back banquet room for about 45 minutes.  So I started playing with comic movements.  There was a mirror for decoration I could play into. 

Using this blog.  I'm going to map out this routine and the progress or lack there of in writing.  I've been avoiding rehearsing.  Because that's more natural than actually rehearsing. 

On paper this is what I have.

Enter with cane.  Do some physical bits with cane ala Charlie Chaplin.

Do a hat trick.  Notice the audience likes it build to a fancier one.  Do a series.  The drummer in the band get ahead of me, I get mad at the drummer. 

List of hat tricks.
-flip to head
-high flip to head
-roll down back
-roll down arm
-hat balanced on top of cane, pull cane away hat lands on head
balance hat on nose
wipe sweat with arm, notice hat is gone grab hat in teeth flip it to head
flip hat to hand fully stretched up, let fall to low hand.

Tricks, I'd like to put in. 
flip hat from foot to head
throw hat to coat rack. 

These are tricks I can do but not consistently.

Here's what's happening in my head as i picture the combination. 

Speed of these tricks, how do they blend together so I can repeat but not right after each other. 

So. Enter stage. take a bow.  twirl cane.  hang up cane.  roll hat down arm, flip on head, roll down back.  start to walk off.  Elicit  audience to start applauding.  Enjoy, then do the same routine adding another element.  Then do a whole fast hat routine ending with a hat on top of a cane on my chin.  pull hat away, hat lands on head. 

This is part 1.  I'll try this tomorrow between gigs.  in the morning I am Santa, in the afternoon I have a show in a school.  The school will be a nice place to try this new routine.  The kids don't really notice if i mess up, they think it's funny and since I am in character, I'll have fun with it.  

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Getting More Laughs with the Same Joke...

There are ways of doing the same joke over and over and getting more laughs.  

Or put another way. 

There are ways of doing the same joke over and over and getting more laughs.  

Or said another way. 

There are ways of doing the same joke over and over and getting more laughs.  

From my show, I juggle clubs.  I juggle then out of the blue hit myself in the head with a blue juggling club and stop and look at the club.  The joke is that I hit myself with the juggling club.  I can do the same joke 3 or 4 times but then have to switch it up.

So I put the club in my left hand and it hits me without juggling. Then all the clubs hit me.

Then I try and ignore the juggling club and it randomly hits me each time I try and speak.

The joke is an inanimate object is hitting me.  I just have to use my imagination to find ways of doing the same joke in different ways.

Letting a balloon fly around a balloon is funny and is a strong laugh.  There are ways of doing that same joke in different ways.

-simply letting the balloon go

-handing it to someone and it flies away

-tying a balloon wrong and it flies away

-breaking a balloon and it flies away

-tying the top of the balloon then snapping off the nozzle and letting it fly away

-pretending you have a bow and arrow and loading the balloon into the mime bow and shooting it but letting it fly

-tie the balloon sit down tired and let the balloon fly why you sit down

-tie the balloon buy you hear your name called you turn that direction and let the balloon fly
This is an old promo picture but I love it. 

 Or said another way. 

There are ways of doing the same joke over and over and getting more laughs.  


The joke is letting the balloon go but the clowning part is the repetition.  The repetition can be repeated after the first mistake but only 2 or 3 times then you have to mix it up so it looks like a new joke.  You can return to the original just letting the balloon go if you put character on it and let the balloon fly.

This is a method I use often with great success.  I have two scarves and have the children each hold a scarf for me.  I can mix it up in a hundred ways.  I name the color wrong.  I call the children by opposite names.  I call the scarves the same color (this one is red, this one is red.  I mean this one is white and this one is white..) I call the children the same name (suzie hold the red, suzie hold the red...).  I can mix up my left and write.  I can call the children by my name.

It's the same joke.  I am just having the children hold two scarves.  You could do this with ropes, balloons, scarves, juggling balls.

Be confident as you do the joke.  The more certain you are the more laughs you'll get.

If you need help with your jokes, let me know.

Or said another way. 

There are ways of doing the same joke over and over and getting more laughs.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Doing More With The Balloon...

I was doing a gig the other day I saw a ferry princess do a bunch of comedy with a balloon. 

It's Christmas time so she was calling her balloon a reindeer.  It wasn't that great a balloon but I was very impressed with the comedy she was doing.  

Go back to the basics of the balloon.  Why is it so magical?  




  -people don't see them very often
  -they are brightly colored
  -they are long and skinny, this is just strange looking. 
  -a balloon goes quickly from a long skinny balloon to a dog nearly instantly.  That's magic
  -they stretch really far
  -they pop
  -if you don't tie them they fly all around the room
  -if you throw them they sort of float

When you are making kids laugh it's often imagination.  What I liked about the Ferry Princess, she took a balloon and called it a reindeer by taking out her pump and laying it across the nozzle like the balloon were the ears of the reindeer.  I was very impressed. 

Here is a little hint with improv.  What the Ferry Princess did, she told the kid what she was going to be makign up front.  This allows so much more.  I'm making a reindeer...

  -oh sorry it's still an egg (if you roll up the balloon a little) it's funny because it makes you think about an egg... a mammal. It reveals the balloon. 

  -blow up the balloon let it fly.  "I guess it heard Santa call and went flying that way"

  -snap it as you stretch.  "That's Santa telling the reindeer to hurry Christmas is here"  or Ouch it thinks I'm stealing presents..."

- make the farting noise. "Excuse me, eggnog does that to me"

-get the balloon stuck on your finger.  "It's biting, it's biting"  or "it thinks my finger is a carrot, get it off get it off"  

Jokes work within your character.  Fart jokes work for me because of the type of character I am, if you are a gentle character you can try and talk to the balloon and tell the balloon to be nice to the children.  If you're silly, there are many ways of accidentally

letting the balloon fly around the room. It's funny if it takes you by surprise. 

Let me know if you need to brainstorm.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

MyTruth About Real Bearded Santas...Meh

Most of my Santa gigs are through agents and I hear over and over.  "You get paid less because the agents (or family) really wants a real bearded Santa.



I don't know where this came from most real bearded Santas look scruffy.  I love the look of the big fluffy cottony white beard, mustache and hair.  It totally matches the old image of the traditional Coca Cola Santa. Which is where this whole Santa thing came from in the first place.

You may not have realized it but Christmas is a marketing scheme.  Santa is shill for imperialist dogs to keep us buying stuff.

But it's cute to have kids hug me.

I was in a mall the other day a kid walked by and said..."That's the real Santa.  Mommy he's the real Santa"  Because you know, I'm a real performer that takes the look, feel, the way I hold my body as a character.  The character happens to be Santa.

I had another lady that sat on my lap at a party at a real estate office look at me from one inch away and say..."You really are Santa..."  Yup I am.

There are some great real beard Santas but my rant is hiring some old guy that isn't a performer to perform just because he has a beard is lame.  I see a lot of Santas.  Create a physicality.  Go to a beard groomer get your beard properly groomed, dye your eyebrows. And remember Santa never stops smiling.

Be better Santas.  

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Santa and The Screaming Child...

It's that time of year and I'm taking lots of photos with kids.  I'm Santa

From my point of view I see a lot of very excited children and a lot that look at me and when their parents approach they start screaming and scrambling to keep their distance.



Your hear over and over "Children cry when they see Santa"  Or "It's the big beard"  Or the one I hate, "It's not the real Santa, it's someone dressed up..."  Ugh.  I'm very real. In the moment, I'd need gunshots ringing out to break character.

I had a revelation the other day.

Children aren't afraid.  They are overwhelmed.

Who is the person children start hearing about from the time they are babies?  Santa and grandma and grandpa.

Children probably see grandma and grandpa fairly often but it's a big deal to see these give away people.

Now Santa is on TV, ornaments on the tree, on cartoons, on pajamas, everyone is talking about Santa.

So when you get close, it's just too much.

The children that are afraid and scream are consistently around 2 to 3. They happily come up to me at 4 and up.  I think by 4 there is a lot in a child's life.  They've got school, they go to Disneyland, they see Toy Story on Ice so meeting a character come to life is not quite so huge. Plus Santa is up close.

I don't take the screaming children too seriously.  The cute thing is as they walk away, they wave to me.  What I'm present to is how I get to bring people together. I make people smile, I might make them laugh.  It's actually magical. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

What Is Your Goal Boswick?

I've been going through a life's crisis for

About 45 years....

I keep waiting to become famous.  And waiting and waiting.

In my thoughts last night, I was thinking about how much energy I put into the show/play I'm in The Speakeasy (http://www.thespeakeasysf.com check it out clowns ).  I have spent my life obsessing about my own performance.  My performance in circuses, in doing a commercial, filming my video blogs.  Writing.

I have put almost all my emotional energy completely into The Speakeasy.

We are coming up on two years.  And I'm wondering, what exactly is my goal. You know as a clown.

I dug out a book I had been working on Snotty Comebacks for kids.  I find it incredibly funny.  I began reading them and rewriting them. Then working on more jokes.

If I were to get this published my goal would be to become a character like Lemony Snicket. (A Series of Unfortunate Events).

My son and I went to see Davis Sedaris on Tuesday night. I loved it.  I could see how he managed the audience the interactions and how he read his stories and took questions from the audience.  Not only an incredible writer but adept and making each moment seem special to the audience of 2500.

It's a skill I have on stage.  It's the joking skill.

I'm lucky enough to have met Lemony Snicket.  He lives in San Francisco with his kids.  My kids used to go see him when they were little do talks.
Me and Lemony Snicket!

I'm writing and thinking. This is what I want to do/be.

I'd like to be the king of snotty comebacks.  To create a character for stage that talks to large groups.

Hmmm.

More to come.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My New Artist Friend...

My dad is an art dealer.


My dad circa 1985


Not a very good one or I wouldn't have a 2008 Toyota Yaris...I'd have a 2010 Yaris.

My sense of being an artist is way screwed up by my upbringing.  When I'm called an artist I have a fake smile and say thank you.

Art to me is about being better than others.  Knowing something others don't know, judging what's hanging on someone else's walls.

I don't like art galleries.  I don't like museums.  The thought of going into them makes my intestines. clench.

Yet, I love art.

When my kids were little I would go on the field trips and listen with rapt attention as the docents asked the children questions.  I chimed in all the time. (because I'm just excited to be asked my opinion)

Once I was inside the museum it was wonderful.  I love staring at a piece of art.  There is a piece in The San Francisco De Young Fine Arts Museum I couldn't break away from in the California collection.  It was art from the late 1800's from areas I grew up before they were suburbs.  I love it.  I want to steal it.

But the thought of going back in; once again the clench.

In the early 1970s my dad partnered up with other scoundrels and invested in artists doing etchings.  I was very young and I was dragged to fancy dinners.  Part of the deal of the printing was my dad got to own a few prints for himself.  He even had the artists dedicate some to me and my brothers.

There was one that hung at the foot of my bed.  My entire young life.

A piece by James Torlakson. An amazing water color of a jackknifed truck that had crashed on the interstate.  So realistic.  It looks like a photo from a distance.  When you come close you realize it's drawn.

I stared at that.

I have the painting.  My wife put it in a closet.  It's a very modern piece of art.

I met with Jim yesterday.  He had looked my dad up and ended up finding me.  He lives 20 minutes away.

I had a lot to deal with.  A lot to take in.

The idea that my dad had helped a young artist and changed his life.  That's quite something.  I hadn't thought about it but he took a big risk on Jim.

At the time, Jim was in his mid 20s.  It also turns out, the process for making the lithograph was incredibly complex and had never been done before.  I don't understand but Jim explained it to me.  My dad believed in him and spent a bunch of money for this to happen.

It's a puzzle to find out about your parents.  It's quite a journey to not look at them not as your parents.

Jim showed me his art.  His art studio.  His collections.  His toy collections.  His fascination with clowns (why he got in touch with me).

And we talked
And talked
And talked.

It turns out I may be an artist after all.

Jim talked about the gift we've been given.  I never see what I do as a gift, closer to a curse because I have no choice in this.  I have to perform or I die.  I feel that clenching again.

He talked about touching people and touching 3 generations away from us.

His art had done that to me.  His truck on it's side meant so much to me.  I dug it out of the closet and stared at it again last night.  Jim didn't know me till yesterday yet he had touched my essence.  Which had touched others through me.  Many many others.  Not only my family, all the people I perform for.  That may be approaching a million people by now.

Wow.  A million people.

As I think it out probably more.  The Speakeasy has performed for about 50,000 people.  When I was in the circus, I must have appeared before a quarter million people.  I've done thousands and thousands of shows.

Out of that.  I moved someone.  I must have.  Someone did something they might not have, thought a way they never have before, tried something they never thought they would try.

I'm clenching again.

Go see Jim's work  https://www.jamestorlakson.com