October 26, 2007

Things I Say-- The Banter

*Banter [Good-humored, playful conversation]

The Fun and Function of Mime and Balloon Art Performing

Costumes, Performance Tips-- and a Bit of Banter-- Enjoy!

[Go to the first post in this series]

The street act mentioned in my last blog has been the foundation of my performing in Japan for nearly four years. However, I first used balloon art starting about 10 years ago by helping with mission project fund-raising activities and paid performances at parties and restaurants.

None of this happened in one day-- in fact, it started one day when I dropped off supplies to a volunteer clown (now a missionary in Chile) who, motioning to the long line of kids waiting, told me to inflate and tie balloons for him. Well, sounds simple, but in a short time I'd broken two of his pumps (my present identical pump has lasted two years) and I struggled with the concept of tying the knot for hours-- oh, well.

But I enjoyed the reactions of the kids-- the parents too-- so I agreed to volunteer to do the same and plugged along learning how to make the various shapes. However, to do this well, I also needed a spiel, banter or lines to keep people entertained while I made the balloons.

'What's the bravest animal in the jungle?' ('A lion?') 'No, he has big teeth; he doesn't have to be brave.' (Slight pause as I finish the animal) 'A giraffe... because he really sticks his neck out!'

I heard this and many others from other clowns or ballooners, made up my own, and some I got from the people I meet, for if you tell some people a joke, they try to top yours with another. Getting the audience involved is helpful.

"Guess what I'm making.'

--or having them count the number of bubbles as I make a lion's mane.

Some things I've tried have worked, others flopped. One story developed from making a heart-shape with two kissing birds-- Next: 'A Love Story with Balloons'.

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