I just wrapped up performing at my first fair of 2022 and this fair has reminded me that to be successful performing at a fair you need a lot more than a good act. You need to be flexible as there are soo many unexpected variables.
The fair I was at has soo many challenges. One of the biggest ones was that it way very windy. By windy, I mean it would blow my table over. I’ve had to deal with that before sometimes the solution is simply to unscrew the top off my table and set it on the floor.
The stage was mostly in the Arizona sun all day, which bakes your props. I do a trick with keys and by the time I got to that routine they were physically uncomfortable to touch. The solution was to put strings on the end of the keys, so people could hold them by the string.
Then there was the blowing dust. Unfortunately there really wasn’t a solution to that. All that really can be done is to either pause until it stops or power through it.
Having performed at many fairs in the past, I’m aware of the challenges and while I’d prefer to not have the wind blow over my table, I’m equipped to handle them. Fairs will make you a better performer because you’ll have to deal with pretty much everything from weather, to people, to venue challenges. If you can figure out how to adapt, you can figure out how to work your show virtually anywhere.
When I was first starting out performing and I had a gig, that would literally eat up my whole day. From packing for it, to travel and performing, even for a local gig. Then as I got more confident in my show, it got much faster, I knew everything was in my case, and didn’t need to double check anything. I was also a lot more confident and had more experience as a performer, so that if a prop was missing or whatever, I could still make it happen.
I’m heading out to my first fair contract in about 18 months and it’s an out of town 10 day contract. Another challenge on top of not having performed at a fair in a year and a half is the scope of work I’m doing. I’m pretty much doing whatever they want me to do. I know I’m doing some stage shows, stage MCing and some roving. Once again, this wouldn’t have been an issue in 2019, but it’s a lot of stuff to figure out how to pack.
So why not do it how I did it a couple of summers ago?
Well, every summer I work on a lot of new material at fairs, so the packing of the show will be different than it was before. Also I’m not sure the level of contact, or social distancing that people will be comfortable with. One of my routines a couple summers ago was an 8 minute bit where someone fed me marshmallows, and that’s something I probably can’t do for a little while. Sure I could get someone on stage and ask them to do it, and they probably would…but I’m worried it would be “cringy” for people watching it. I don’t want that.
I’m going to spend a day stressing out on how I’m going to pack the show, then hopefully the next contract will be much easier!!!