Over the weekend I performed at a busker’s festival, and shared the stage (aka bank parking lot) with Hillia Hula. She does a hula hoop show.
Hillia has great costuming and is very likable onstage. Being likeable is 90% of the game. Personally, in my show I’m a slow burn, you really don’t like me until about 10 minutes into the show.
As for the tricks, they are pretty standard hoop tricks, and she does them well. There was nothing in the show that I hadn’t seen before. If she had a couple of original routines, I think she’d really blow up.
In hooping, I don’t think there’s a lot of innovation in new tricks that I’ve seen. Pretty much every does a very similar show. Dizzy Hips is the only act I’ve seen that has a couple of original (as far as I know) hula hoop tricks. I will say my knowledge of hula hoop tricks is very limited, so Hillia may be doing some original stuff that to my untrained eye looks like something I’ve seen before.
If you get a chance to see Hillia’s show, check it out, it’s a solid street show. You can learn a lot by watching it.
When I was a kid starting out, I used to take a bus into downtown and street perform. I still ocassionally street perform, but not usually in the normal context of plunking a table down on a street corner. When I perform at fairs, sometimes I will do a “found space” show. These shows happen on the fairgrounds and are pretty much street shows. The main difference is that the show doesn’t end with a hat pitch. I don’t ask for money.
Yesterday I performed at a busker festival, and I was one of the paid acts, so I didn’t have to ask for money. I did after my first show, but the second show I couldn’t because there was a presentation after me and they wanted me to hold the crowd and introduce the guy that was going to talk.
From the one show I did where I did a hat pitch, I remembered how important it is to actually have a hat pitch. My non existent hat pitch didn’t really work. There are essentially two elements to a good hat pitch. First is the plea, you tell them why they should tip you. Usually these start with, “This is my job…” and then tell about how tips are your income. You then do your final big trick and go into the call to action, where you tell people to put money in your hat. There are a million stock lines for this, like “Remember Tipping isn’t just a city in China…” Things like that. It’s the running lines of patter during the hat that fill the awkward, empty silence and while people are digging out their wallets.
In my opinion, having a strong hat pitch and a good show will make you more money street performing than having a good hat pitch and a strong show. If you’re thinking about street performing, be sure to work on the hat pitch!