“Ima shove that f#%k’n wand up yo’ ass” is apparently what he was yelling from the steps behind my crowd, according to the drink vendor next to me. I couldn’t tell during the show because I had completely blocked him out, treated him like the brass band by shouting to drown him out and keep my crowd focused on me. By the end of the show the police had arrived to escort the drunken thugs threatening tourists in front of the St. Louis cathedral.
Just another lovely New Orleans Sunday.
As I settle back into the South I reflect on the differences between my summer and winter locations. I knew I was spoiled in Seattle — occasional shade, kids out every day, sober crowds.. I knew it would be rough returning to New Orleans. I began my busking career in the Big Easy because I knew it was not easy at all. The attention spans are shorter, the hecklers fiercer, the peripheral dangers of the streets raising the defensive walls of pedestrians. Fortunately, I love a good challenge.
My character had become goofier over the summer, more family friendly. This lighter shade is a great tool to add to my repertoire, but it is not enough to survive in New Orleans. Throughout the first couple of shows back in Jackson Square many of the edgier jokes in my show resurfaced, the ones that are region-specific and only really work in a place as crazy as New Orleans.
In the NW I could draw a significant amount of attention simply by being weird. But in New Orleans, weird is normal — it’s not enough to stand out. People are accustomed to seeing crazies in these streets, and when you’re walking through a zoo it’s easy to assume everyone’s an animal. I’m aiming for a balance of crazy and class. Think tailored suit with a clown nose. Calculated crazy.
Most of my concerns about performing once again in New Orleans ended up being much like any other worrying I’ve ever done: The fear of the pain ended up being worse than the pain itself. After I got my first false start out of the way, I drew a big enthusiastic and well-paying crowd that reminded me I know how to work this city. I chose this place because it will make me strong. Wanna learn how to keep your cool on stage? Try performing with a real physical threat floating behind you backstage shouting at you and your crowd. That’ll give you chops alright.
One thing that has stood out the most to me is how many times I’ve heard “Welcome back” or “Welcome home”. It’s those little things that add up to make me realize that, against my will, this city has claimed me and made itself my home. I still itch for the road, but after a few years of migrating it’s nice to have a place to leave from and return to. For the first time in my life I have my very own house with a yard and a carport to store the bike. It’s the closest I’ve come to stability in my experience making a living as a magician, and though I’m very grateful for the chance to rest, I am also wary of falling into a sedentary lifestyle. Before long it’ll be time to ramble on again. Til then…
Thanks for reading =)