A few years ago I watched the juggler Wally Eastwood's DVD. It had two shows and a little biography piece with clips from his youth. It was really good, but the thing that struck me was how much overlap there was in the shows. Even in the clips from his youth he was using the same props and the same songs. It seemed like he came up with a 20 minute show when he was 18 and just stopped. This seemed sad to me, but actually, it was probably the key to his success. Instead of always trying to come up with something new each year, he took what he already had and improved it a little bit each year, and eventually those little incremental improvements added up to a world class show that he could take to Vegas and tour the world with. Despite the effectiveness of this method, only having 20 minutes still feels crazy. However, we have about an hour and half of stuff, so think I am ok if we take a little bit of time to focus on making tiny improvements to make routines 1% better. Below is a list of all our routines and ways to improve them. In my mind, this will be a living document that I will update with ideas to improve routines, and occasionally add a "check" beside something. This probably won't be very interesting for anyone else, and it is mostly just for me (in that way, it is just like most of K Anything). However, if you leave any ideas in the comments, I will try and add them to the list.
In light of Darren's responses in part 4, I think it is safe to say that this bit has begun to wear out its welcome, so I have decided to make Part 5 the summary. Don't worry I still have something for part 6.
I don't think a new show is coming in the foreseeable future. I am defining the foreseeable future as the next 4 years. Also to my relief, Darren is less interested in professionalizing things(costumes, merch, etc.) than he was a few years ago.
The one idea from all this that Darren actually liked was the idea of a show where we disagreed because we were both wrong, so I'll try to remember that. The other thing to remember is that I said the show should be no more than 40 minutes, and Darren wants it be no less than 40 minutes, so I guess we will try and shoot for 40 minutes on the nose. I still like the idea of having a message or idea early on, but I don't think that will happen, We will probably just come up with random bits and figure out a way to fit them all together in the end.
Also, I think I know what we will actually be doing for the next few years, but I will save that for part 6
I have answers, but I am just putting up questions for now, so Darren has a chance to respond to the questions instead of my answers.
Question 1: What should the structure of the show be?
A) Like Themes; some sort of gimmick that lets you go through some sort of list
I see this all the time. Brett Meyers' show is like this, most of the shows at Sesame Place are like this, lots of kid's books are like this. (I am sure there are lots of other examples, but that is most of the media that I consume right now). There are endless ways to do this. Olympics, each event is a routine, Awards show, each category is a routine, I don't want to be a juggler anymore each replacement job is a routine(this is PJ Funnybunny)
B) Like Prodigal, we narrate a Bible Story. This is pretty self expanatory.
C) Something else,
I don't know what the something else would be. I imagine that we would think of a thing we wanted to say or do, and make up a story that allowed us to say or do that thing. Example: Back in college I did a short show with my friend Nate. He said he wanted to write his number on a ball and give it to a girl in the audience, so the whole show built up to that.
I really enjoyed making Prodigal Fun, and that style of show would be fun and natural for me to write again. That being said I don't think we should do that again, I think it works better if we are the characters of the story instead of the narrators. Between A and B, I would pick A. However as always, my preference is something new. I don't know what the something else would be. I imagine that we would think of a thing we wanted to say or do, and make a story that allowed us to say or do that thing. Example: Back in college I did a short show with my friend Nate. He said he wanted to write his number on a ball and give it to a girl in the audience, so the whole show built up to that. Trying to think of a thing I would like to say, led my to Question 2
I have no thoughts.
Question 2: Any idea on what the message of the show should be?
I don't think this is actually a good idea for the show, but the point of K Anything is basically to have a place to put ideas that don't really have a place to go. A thing I like to talk about with Darren is Professional vs. Amateur. Here are prior posts on this: Professional and Lower Case K (I might be missing one). The thing I like about this idea is that Darren and I can actually disagree, and the audience could pick sides. We could each pick Bible stories to go with our points. I don't know what the pro-professional would be, probably something like run the race to win the prize kind of a thing. My first thought on the anti-professional is Jesus washing the disciples feet. I like the idea of retelling it and having Peter's response be rolling his eyes and yelling, "Come on! Can't we keep this thing professional" I could go on, but I don't see this actually being a juggling show.
I have no thoughts
Question 3: Do you have any interest in having more merchandise? (Juggling props, kits, coloring pages, etc?)
People have asked about us selling juggling props or kits. I don't really want to do this, we already have too much stuff to transport and keep track of. I am sure I would get into making a instructional video to go along with a kit, but there are other things I'd rather do. Some of the stands at the Creation Kid's Tent have coloring pages. It would be fine to make some of those, but I can't really see us using them for very many events.
I have no thoughts
I am writing three questions today. I assume the first two will be quickly dismissed, but I think they are interesting thoughts.
Another year in the books. Although we only had around 25 shows(update from D 26), I would say it was definitely our busyest year ever. I think rather than judging busyness on what we did, we should judge it on what we didn't do. We definitely turned down more shows this year (because we were too busy) than ever before. We are getting a lot of repeat shows now. We even made returns to Intercourse Heritage Fest and Cherry Crest Farm after a few years off. Also, we did 6.5 Christmas shows. The half show was a practice at Hinkletown that was viewed by a group that was renting the gym. (Show number 6 was a Christmas show at Creation) Our most notable new show was probably a show at Kitchen Kettle.
We have performed our new devilstick routine "Forever" a bunch this year, and it is on its way to becoming a normal routine instead of just a new thing we are trying. We haven't really done the II Corinthians routine all year, but we haven't given up on it yet. We did a highly modified version of it for a Sunday morning show where they wanted us to do something on David and Jonathan. It was fun to try something a little different, but I don't think we will be doing a David and Jonathan routine again.
I broke Darren's two year winning streak and won D vs K this year. The first round was three three ball finishes. I won this round decisively. I don't think Darren really practiced for this, but he did do a butt grab a la Jason Garfield. I did a neck catch, a spin move, and a foot catch. Round 2 was expanding a existing routine. I added a magic high five to our foundation routine, and Darren knocked a carrot out of his mom's mouth while we were passing around her. I thought this could have gone either way, but the judges gave this to me as well. We have used both these things in other shows since then, so I view this as a win for the whole D vs K concept. The final round was most extreme trick. I did three big balls on my back sort of. Darren balanced his son Cameron on his hand. Even though I had already won the judges gave me this round as well.
One final thing new thing from this year, we made a promotional video for Creation this year. I don't think a lot of people saw it, but I liked how it turned out, and I feel like I am finally figuring out how to make/edit videos.
By the way, Darren had a son this year, and he is healthy and crawling around. Kevin's daughter is now running around and his son spent a lot of the year pretending to be Darren.
In light of part 1, there is a good chance that Show 3 will not be happening in the foreseeable future. However, I will press on with these questions because I think they are interesting. Going forward, I will ask two questions in each of these posts; the first will be about the hypothetical Show 3 and the second will be about what's next in a more general way.
We premiered Prodigal Fun in the February of 2015. Approximately a week later, I said that we should do our next new show in 2024 to celebrate 25 years. If that's actually going to happen we need to start thinking about it now. I am not saying we have to do anything now; we just have to start thinking about doing something. With that in mind, I have come up with some questions about show #3 . Anyone can respond to these questions, but I am basically assuming Darren is the only one who reads this. If Darren responds to the questions I'll put his answers here too. His answers will be in orange; mine are in blue
Once again, I am back with our year end letter. We had a few less
shows this year than the last couple. My count is at 28 shows for
2018. However, it feels like we have done a lot more Sunday morning
shows this year. I don’t know if that means we are becoming more
respectable, or that churches are lowering their standards.
As far as new juggling stuff, we are still working on “Forever” (our
new devilstick routine) and our II Corinthians 12 routine. Looking
back at Christmas letters, I can see that we were working on these
back in 2016. We did make real progress on both routines and have even performed each of them for audiences. I really think the latest
version of the II Corinthians routine (version 6) is going to work.
Hopefully by the end of next year, these should both be in the show,
and we will have some new goals. We did come up with a lot of new
intros these year. We have intros for Father Abraham, Frisbees, and
Bye Bye Bye now. This might not seem like a huge accomplishment, but we have been juggling clubs for nearly 20 years and still haven’t
thought of a way to introduce them.
We performed at Creation again this year, and we even made them a promo video. https://youtu.be/9Y8v7KD_OqI In addition to juggling, Darren also performed as the “Hobo Devil” with the Donut Man. Our biggest new event was probably the Kids’ Cookie Break Fest. We also performed at the Ephrata Christmas Tree Lighting. We made it through the show even though it was cold and dark. Also, I got a chance to try snow meteors instead of water meteors.
I think D vs K turned out really well this year. We did balancing(D)
vs twirling(K). The first round was dancing; Darren’s Hokey Pokey
ladder balance beat my Electric Slide with water meteors. The second round was “Take My Trick” I won by juggling while twirling and Darren balanced a stick while getting squirted by a volunteer. The final round was the fire round. I got Darren to be my unwitting volunteer and hold a box of matches with tongs. I smacked the box of matches with my poi and two matches lit up. That is not a lot of fire, but I liked it and it worked just the way I wanted it to. However,
once again Darren won. He balanced a torch on his hand and did some flips and tosses. I really liked have balancing and twirling go
together. Hopefully, something will come of this.
Finally, it is time for the personal sentence. My wife and I had a baby
girl, Lindsey Marie, and Darren and his wife are expecting their first
child next year.
We made it through another year. Life is still busy but we managed to do 35 shows again this year. Honestly, I’m busy enough that I am not sure how many shows we did, but 35 sounds right to me. Darren will probably correct me if I am wrong. I just read last year’s letter and saw that I put 35, but I remember finding out later that it should have been 34.
We started off by premiering the whipped cream version of Father Abraham at the HMS Winter Carnival. I have really enjoyed doing this routine through the year. I like having a finale that doesn’t even try and look big and dangerous. We haven’t done any other new acts, but we are still working on our new devilstick routine and our II Cor 12 “dropping the ball” routine.
Most people would say the most notable show we did this year was Creation. We performed all three days in the kids’ tent. We had fun doing some collaborations with This Way Up, and got the whole kids’ tent lineup to sing Father Abraham with us. We have even been asked to come back for 2018. However, I would still say the most exciting show we did was the Saucon Hymn Sing. They actually let us “lead” a hymn sing with juggling. It was basically exactly what I like doing: getting to do something new, limited practicing, no acting, and me transitioning between things by clumsily explaining songs. The most amazing part of all this is that it really worked well. We didn't have any solo shows this year, but Darren did sing a solo in Kids Praise!
Sadly my two year streak of D vs K victories ended this year. Round one was diabolo routines. I tried singing “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” with my routine. That was a mistake, but I am still glad I tried it. Darren crushed me that round with a routine set to The Breaker's Commission. I should really encourage Darren to make more music selections. In round two, Darren did a cigar box routine with grapefruits and I did a devilstick routine with a tennis racket. I won this round with some help from a volunteer. Round three was close. Darren did the water bottle flip challenge and added a flip to his forehead. I tried doing slinky tricks with a giant slinky. It was ok, but not enough. Darren won, but I still enjoy having a giant slinky in my bag of props. As the winner, he has set the rules for next year. We are basically doing Balancing(D) vs Twirling(K), but the three rounds aren’t quite finalized yet.
Finally, here is the personal sentence. Darren got a new job pouring concrete, and my wife and I are expecting our second child.
For the last three years, we have performed at my church’s picnic. This year I said that we should do something different so instead of doing the picnic, we will be juggling at a hymn sing. My church has hymn sings the first Sunday of each month, and sometimes there is a guest artist. However, this artist has always been a musician in the past. The idea of juggling at a hymn sing may seem weird, but from my perspective this will be the greatest juggling led hymn sing anyone has ever been to. Winning by default has always been the key to my successes.
The K in the DKers