The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Flea Circus (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page 1~2~3 [Next]
Todd Robbins
View Profile
V.I.P.
New York
2907 Posts

Profile of Todd Robbins
I posted this in another forum, but I will repeat it here, since the subject came up. Also, this will help in my quest to out post the Joeys in Carnival of Fun.

There are a bunch of people glomming on to the Flea Circus idea as of late. Most make the mistake of having the gimmick do all the work. They will do a big spiel about the fleas and then the audience see a small parasol cross a wire or some water splash in a tank. I'm sorry, but the elaborate and EXPENSIVE Flea Circuses I've seen lately are as dull as can be. A complex bit of gear work or electronics is NOT the secret to making the Flea Act successful entertainment.

The secret is TALKING FLEAS! Now, let me explain. I'm not as crazy as you think.

Johnny Meah used to do a ten minute flea act in the center ring of a real circus before an audience of several hundred people. The only prop he used was a small paper bag. He would open the bag and take out the flea. He would talk to the flea and repeat to audience what the flea said back to him. It was a ventriloquism act without the dummy! And he didn't have to worry about his lips moving! At the end of the whole thing, the flea did a triple back somersault into the bag. There was a small thud in the bag (the old finger snapping bit). The audience went nuts.

Red Skelton did a similar bit.

Almost any two person comedy routine could be done this way. It adds soooo much character to the act and makes the mechanical side of it a glorious payoff.

Let me just at that I have not seen what the Doc does with his Flea Circus, so my initial critizism was not directed at him.
Harley Newman
View Profile
Inner circle
5110 Posts

Profile of Harley Newman
AND...you can get one of the marks to blow the flea out of a straw, into the bag! So it's audience interaction, too.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
Harry Murphy
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
5348 Posts

Profile of Harry Murphy
Thanks for starting this thread and thanks for the great flea-bit (pun intended?).

I agree with you that many of the flea show that are hitting the bricks (classrooms, street fairs, etc) are wonders of mechanical puppetry but have little entertainment value.

In the past year and a half I have seen three flea circuses. One was very good, and the other two were flat (at best). All three were basically the same thing (trapeze, high-wire, strong flea, high dive, and shot from cannon) with maybe one to three stunts different.

The best was Jim Franks (Maryland Renaissance Fair). Jim puts life and personality into his “fleas”. The show is more about his histrionics, his interaction with the fleas and crowd, and much less about the puppetry.

The worst of the bunch was a guy that dressed as his version of a “medicine show pitch man” and simply named each flea and did the thing. He didn’t involve the crowd or suck them into the fantasy of the world of fleas! No one in the crowd believed that there were, in fact, fleas doing tricks for them. They watched a lame puppet show.

This is another act proves that owning the props does not necessarily make a good show. Heck, you have demonstrated that it only takes a paper bag (and maybe a drinking straw – thanks for that one Harley!) to do a flea circus (and some acting skill and a little audience management skill).

Talk about creating an illusion!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
drwilson
View Profile
Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson
Dear Todd,

No offense taken...it was clear to me at the outset that this was all about the script and the performer. What attracted me to this act was the banners, the overblown spiel, the whole triumph-of-skill over gravity of the daring perfomers, and at the end of all of this, a few tiny props move slightly. I can't understand the performers who want to buy an all-electronic version with a remote control for $6,000. This act is about the talker painting a word picture, describing the life histories and personalities of each of the performers, the music, the color and the flash, and at the end...very little.

But what a great time to sell stuff, after the show...

Yours,

Paul
Todd Robbins
View Profile
V.I.P.
New York
2907 Posts

Profile of Todd Robbins
Paul,
I had a feeling that you were on the right path with the Flea Circus idea. I look forward to seeing what you do with it all.

By the way, one of these days I'm going to find a jeweler that can make the props and a source for human fleas and do a real flea circus.
Harley Newman
View Profile
Inner circle
5110 Posts

Profile of Harley Newman
Aw, c'mon, Todd, I've seen you bleed for your art!

And vice versa, come to think of it.

And there are so many other things that can be done with a bag and a straw, individually, or together. Pack light, eh? (He says, as contemplating another big prop to build.)
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
drwilson
View Profile
Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson
Dear Todd,

The first flea circus that I saw was real. It was created by performance artist Maria Fernanda Cardosa. I saw this performed in Atlanta during the Olympics, as part of the associated arts festival. You can read about it here, here, and in an article in Salon here. Cardosa moves in the high-class world of museum art installations, NEA funding, etc.

I guess that leaves the rest of us to scratch out a living among the common folk...

Yours,

Paul
Todd Robbins
View Profile
V.I.P.
New York
2907 Posts

Profile of Todd Robbins
As I understand it, Maria has now moved on to other projects. I guess the bite from the show business bug wasn't big enough.
drwilson
View Profile
Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson
Dear Todd,

Well, seeing her performance has made me go over my act with a fine-toothed comb.

Yours,

Paul
Doug Higley
View Profile
V.I.P.
Here and There
7173 Posts

Profile of Doug Higley
How else does one find Fleas? Easier than 'picking' them off. Smile
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
Slim Price
View Profile
Inner circle
1935 - 2006
1326 Posts

Profile of Slim Price
Some might not know that human fleas are different from animal fleas. Seems to me I remember they could be bought from some lab. I suppose a "flea market" is out of the question...
Slim
sanscan@tds.net



"I will never bitter be, as long as I can laugh at me!"



"The people who were dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music"
Harley Newman
View Profile
Inner circle
5110 Posts

Profile of Harley Newman
Flea, I'm flea at last!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
Todd Robbins
View Profile
V.I.P.
New York
2907 Posts

Profile of Todd Robbins
Somewhere I read the ordeal about Mimi Garneau trying to put together a flea circus for a sideshow season in Canada, but I don't remember where I saw it. If anyone can help on this, please let me know.
drwilson
View Profile
Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson
Mimi's ordeal is described here.

Yours,

Paul
Kondini
View Profile
Inner circle
3612 Posts

Profile of Kondini
Had the option to purchase the last Flea circus (Testo`s) Here in the UK some time ago now.
I applied for shows with it in advance of the season, word got out and within 14 days received a letter from Health & Safety, Wiltshire County Hall Debt,the letter based on the fact that should I decide to present a "live animal" show within their County borders I would be liable to prosecution under the Public Health & Safety act of 1958, also how irresponsible it would be for me to travel Human pestulence around the UK.

I did not purchase Testo`s show !!!!

But have managed to scratch up a living in other ways !!!
Harley Newman
View Profile
Inner circle
5110 Posts

Profile of Harley Newman
There's also:

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were trapped, so what could they do?
Said the flea, "Let us fly"
Said the fly, "Let us flea"
So they flew through a hole in the flue.

Jim Franks does a good job.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
Todd Robbins
View Profile
V.I.P.
New York
2907 Posts

Profile of Todd Robbins
What ever happened to the Testo show?
Doug Higley
View Profile
V.I.P.
Here and There
7173 Posts

Profile of Doug Higley
Ken (Kondini)...since you are 'stepping off' tomorrow down that long seasonal road...I hope I speak for everybody here that we are with you on this tour...may you gain a lot of POUNDS! See ya down the road...

Doug
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
MattTheKnife
View Profile
Veteran user
356 Posts

Profile of MattTheKnife
Todd
Just out of curiosity, what precisely would the jeweler have to make? (To be frank, until this string I had no idea that there ever was a REAL flea circus.)

-Matt (TK)
Doug Higley
View Profile
V.I.P.
Here and There
7173 Posts

Profile of Doug Higley
I know a jeweler who is eminently qualified to make what you seek.

(He once took a gold Wedding Ring that I was discarding (heh heh heh) and turned it into a teeny tiny beautifully detailed 'Shrunken Head'.

Which I promptly lost! (crap)

Matt: Look up Hubert's Museum

Doug
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Flea Circus (0 Likes)
 Go to page 1~2~3 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2020 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.26 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL