I’ve never had a good story for how and why I got into street performing.
My stock interview answer is simply that I had a craptacular part-time job at Starbucks while persuing my undergraduate degree in film production, kinda sorta decided I hated that job, quit dramatically after suffering some cheap shots at the hands of a large corporation and as I was being dragged out by security, said, “I’d make more money and have more dignity working on a street corner!” Which was most likely followed by a string of profanity.
Who knew I was actually correct in that assumption?
The year I graduated from film, I was invited to perform in Kuala Lumpur and had to back out because I was finishing my thesis film. Giving up a great opportunity sucked and I vowed to never do it again after that. I suppose it made me resent film, a subject that while I was particularly inclined towards, was one that started to burn me out. Upon graduation, it didn’t make sense for me to wrap cables or get sandwiches on set, so I sort of just opted to continue along a path I had already been walking down.
As I type, it’s pretty evident that dignity is the crux of the issue here, which is kind of funny, considering how many people believe street performing to be the lowest art on the totem pole of respectable careers in the arts. But to me, street performing is the ultimate example of freedom. I love the fact that my self-esteem is not wrapped up in whatever figure I may earn in a year, something I’ve noticed in many people around me who have steady employment. Often people ask me what my ‘day job’ is. I’m actually quite flattered by that question because it pretty much assumes I’m capable of having one. I love the spontaneity of performing in a public space, how it affects the passersby who stop to watch a show.
I’ve been lucky in my travels. I’ve had some amazing experiences in all sorts of countries and met some equally amazing and interesting people. I’ve hitchhiked with gypsies; gotten into fights that nearly came to blows; been kicked out of a city; gave some really amazing shows; gave some really shitty shows; been detained by kids with guns on festival grounds; and now, heading off to Africa to teach ex-child soldiers to laugh.
I never expected to end up in a fringe industry. It sort of just happened. I have no rational explanation for it: I suppose it just makes the most sense for how I want to live my life. I can’t think of a better job right now, truthfully.
So there you have it.
The true history, in all of its entirety.