Friday, September 21, 2007


Applause is one of the most satisfying things a performer can receive from their audience. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, because once you hear that sound, you know you've done something right. Although it can give a false sense how good you are at what you do.

In a Sideshow, applause is very rare and I feel honored to have received some in that venue. Now, when I type Sideshow, I mean a real Sideshow, in a tent on a carnival, I don't mean club shows or even the Sideshow in Coney Island. People that come to a real Sideshow are promised things that they won't get on the inside. They are misled by the artful spin of the outside talker, and hit with a "steep" admission price, around three to five dollars. Now I know that isn't a lot of money to see someone swallow swords, a contortionist prance on and off stage or a stuffed spider body with an ugly human head, but to the average fair goer, a price that large is highway robbery. They don't like shitty stolen jokes, bad performers and they don't like being taken advantage of. When they walk in and see a fake ten foot tall mummy with a snatch that could swallow you whole, they are not happy, especially since just a few seconds before they walk into the tent they expect it to be alive.
Fair goers hate the Sideshows, yet they still come in.
They are against you from the get go, and it is your job as a performer, good or bad, to win them over. More often than not the audience boos you, they call out and then walk out. They demand their money back, and the little old man in the ticket box looks at them, smiles a yellow and brown toothy smile and gleefully shouts "Naw!".

The outside talkers never get applause, not like you and I would think of. Their applause is the number of folks they convince to part with their money. Their applause come in the form of angry people demanding their money back and being yelled back at at by an angry old hillbilly, that is largely in charge of the shows well being, and the only person on the show that will drive you to the laundry mat. The outside talker is lucky, they get to see what comes into the show before the cast does, they know what will happen before the cast does, some can even tell who will want their money back. They are also almost never held responsible for what they say. The inside cast is, if the outside talker Say's "Folks, you're gonna see Spidora, a beautiful girl with the body of an ugly spider!" and then they go into the show and see a stuffed animal with a tired old head that wags it's tongue at them, it isn't the outside talker's fault that they didn't see a real spider girl, it's the tired old head's fault. Outside talkers take great joy in that.

I miss the Sideshow, the real Sideshow.


D.B. Echo said...

I saw a Spidora once, at the Bloomsburg Fair. It wasn't even a spider body, just a black piece of cloth or carpet with a pretty girl's head sticking through a hole in the floor. I looked in and said, "Oh, come on, you're not even trying."

Anonymous said...

Then why did you only last two weeks in a real sideshow? I guess you rather be associated with celebrities than carnies.