Live Variety show Tonight!

Once a month my buddy Matt Baker and I put on a variety show on Zoom. The show is at 5pm (pst) today! We host the show and bring in three amazing acts. This month we have:

Here’s what went down last month:

Tickets for tonight’s show are $7 and available at www.oddandoffbeat.com/tickets

Let the Kid Win!

Last weekend I went out and saw a variety show that had a magician in it. The magician did a “quiz show” type bit between a kid and his mom. In the bit one personal always get the easy question and the other always gets the hard question. In the version I saw the kid … Continue reading “Let the Kid Win!”

Last weekend I went out and saw a variety show that had a magician in it. The magician did a “quiz show” type bit between a kid and his mom. In the bit one personal always get the easy question and the other always gets the hard question. In the version I saw the kid got the hard question and in my opinion because of that the bit didn’t play as well as it could have.


There were a few factors that needed to be taken into consideration. First while he was in a variety show and your opener doesn’t have the same requirement as in a solo show, this was his opening bit. That means our first introduction to the magician was him picking on a kid. The second factor was that the kid was enthusiastic about coming onstage, until he got there, then he looked like he didn’t want to be there.


When you combine those two things, you are going to have a rough time with the bit. If you always plan for the kid to win, the bit will do well the majority of the time as you’ve removed the variables from the bit. If the kid onstage isn’t into it, but he still wins, that’s a win for you. It’s also easier for an audience to like you when you are nice to a kid.

Best Show I’ve Seen…

After all of these years, I’ve finally seen Esther’s Follies in Austin TX. I’ve heard about it for years, and a friend of mine was the variety act in the show early on. This show has been running for 40 years, and there’s a simple secret to it’s long run…aside from talented performers and that … Continue reading “Best Show I’ve Seen…”

After all of these years, I’ve finally seen Esther’s Follies in Austin TX. I’ve heard about it for years, and a friend of mine was the variety act in the show early on. This show has been running for 40 years, and there’s a simple secret to it’s long run…aside from talented performers and that secret is that the show is stays fresh!


The show is full of jokes and sketches around current events. After the show I was chatting with Ray Anderson who is the magician in the show. He mentioned that every week they have a scheduled writing meeting.

The show keeps changing, and this goes against the “advice” I as given when I was a kid, which was to put together a show/act that you can do the rest of your life. I think that doing one thing and not changing it, is very antiquated advice. Times change and what was once edgy material eventually becomes either cheesy or offensive.

I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with the times, but I’m always evaluating my show looking for things to cut.

Amazing Package!

Unique acts are something that I always love seeing. They can be good, bad, or whatever, if it’s something I’ve never seen before, I’m in! Earlier this week I performed with the Marshall Shore the Hip Historian. He does an act based on Arizona’s history, and it’s run like a game show. His show has … Continue reading “Amazing Package!”

Unique acts are something that I always love seeing. They can be good, bad, or whatever, if it’s something I’ve never seen before, I’m in! Earlier this week I performed with the Marshall Shore the Hip Historian. He does an act based on Arizona’s history, and it’s run like a game show.
His show has amazing “curb appeal”. The look of the show looks fun and exciting.

Let’s start with his costume. He wears boots with the Arizona flag on them, and his jacket also has the Arizona flag on the back of it. He’s looks like a cool version of Colonel Sanders. One of his props is a chicken bucket with his face in place of the Colonel’s face.


His show is a game show where people try to be the first to correctly answer Arizona trivia. I think this is something that could be expanded into a much bigger show. He could use some video elements, and different types of games, not just head to head trivia. This is something that would play really well in a hipster bar or black box theater. I also think this is something that if he packaged it right, he could get a ton of bookings in middle and high schools!

The Whole World Isn’t a Stage…

Variety shows are a blast to perform in, and whenever possible I try to be in them. Earlier this week I was in a show in Phoenix and got to work with a physical comedian, a hula hooper, a sideshow clown and a historian! What I love about these shows is how diverse the range … Continue reading “The Whole World Isn’t a Stage…”

Variety shows are a blast to perform in, and whenever possible I try to be in them. Earlier this week I was in a show in Phoenix and got to work with a physical comedian, a hula hooper, a sideshow clown and a historian! What I love about these shows is how diverse the range of skills the performers have.




One thing that I’m hyper aware of is when you’re not performing on a raised stage. Anything that happens below the armpit disappears for people beyond the second row. I’m aware of this because years ago when I used to do cups and balls in my show I noticed everyone that wasn’t in front having trouble seeing.


In the variety show the majority of the hula hooper’s first set was done with her on the floor, or lower to the ground. Her act was good, but not visible to the whole audience. Sure, artistically doing stuff on the floor makes sense, however moving it up higher in general will make it play better and bigger! This is why juggler’s build larger crowds than a magician, and usually end on something high up like a unicycle.


Play With Others…

Quite often I’ll be performing at an event with other acts. We’re all booked at the same venue, quite often we’re all doing separate things. A couple weeks ago there was a ton of great entertainers at a fair I was performing at. I decided to get everyone together and put on a variety show! … Continue reading “Play With Others…”

Quite often I’ll be performing at an event with other acts. We’re all booked at the same venue, quite often we’re all doing separate things. A couple weeks ago there was a ton of great entertainers at a fair I was performing at. I decided to get everyone together and put on a variety show!


This was a real “fly by the seat of our pants” kinda show, but it was a ton of fun for the performers and the audience!

After doing this, I’m amazed that more fairs don’t have a variety show, or split bill show. It’s great for an audience to watch, and it’s something different. It also breaks up the “monotony” of doing your show three times a day. If you work with other acts, I highly recommend putting together a variety show!

Be Unusual…

One of the types of shows I really like performing in are variety shows. Where I’m an act working with a lot of other acts of all different skills. I’m very fortunate that in Seattle we have the Moisture Festival. This is a variety arts festival that runs for about a month and brings in … Continue reading “Be Unusual…”

One of the types of shows I really like performing in are variety shows. Where I’m an act working with a lot of other acts of all different skills. I’m very fortunate that in Seattle we have the Moisture Festival. This is a variety arts festival that runs for about a month and brings in acts from around the world.


Here’s last night’s line up:

Frequently I’m asked by performers to “get them into the festival” as an act. I tell them they have to get themselves into the festival, I can’t do it for them. What I mean by that is that they need to go out and put the work in on their act.


Any producer of a variety show doesn’t want to deal with duplicate material. If you do standard stuff in the standard way, it’s hard for a producer to put you in an show with another act of the same skill.


Once you start having something unique, or at least unusual now it’s much easier to get into better variety shows. A couple times a year I write out my set list and next to each routine I put a “C”, a “U”, or an “O”. Here’s what they mean:

C: Common – so the trick is a common trick. An example of this would be Linking Rings


U: Unusual – The trick is less common. An example of this would be a trick you found buried in a book no one remembers. Unusual tricks can become common, so this designation may change.


O: Original – The trick is an original routine. A good example of this would be my marshmallow card trick.


The long term goal with this is to have a show that is all U’s and O’s. How you get there is by knowing where the C’s are and trying to eliminate them.

Be Easy To Work With…

One of the things I started doing this years is not letting other acts take advantage of me. What I mean by that is when I’m sharing a stage with another act, I’m very flexible…until they get demanding. In the past when I would share a stage with another act, I would assume we’re all … Continue reading “Be Easy To Work With…”

One of the things I started doing this years is not letting other acts take advantage of me. What I mean by that is when I’m sharing a stage with another act, I’m very flexible…until they get demanding.


In the past when I would share a stage with another act, I would assume we’re all professionals and you wouldn’t ask for things not necessary. I just worked in a show with an act where we both were doing three shows each alternating every hour, with 15 mins change over time.


I asked if I could keep my gear off stage in a small wing unseen by the audience and in a space they weren’t using. They said, “NO”. That’s fine with me if you need that space, I have no problem keeping my gear in a less convenient place. This particular stage has stairs across the entire front of the stage. They started laying out props on the stairs. I asked if they were going to strike them between their shows. They said, “NO”. I told them they would have to as I use the stairs and I don’t want to dodge their props, and have to worry about stepping on them. They said they didn’t have time to move them, and I told them that “it’s not my problem“.


Now could I have dodged their props as I used the stairs? Yes. Should I have to? NO. In a show like this one I’m entitled to backstage space to store my gear, and in a space that was vacant the whole show. By them not being easy to work with, I instantly became less flexible, while still within what my show was entitled. I didn’t ask for anything more, I simply took what I needed.


Guess what, my show was better than it would have been with me or someone from the audience tripping on their props in the dark. They learned a lesson, that when you are working with other acts, you need to be able to do a full strike in between shows unless you’ve discussed it before with the other act.


It’s being a professional


The moral of the story is be flexible, but don’t let anyone take advantage of you.