Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Paulos Circus

I look forward to seeing Paulos Circus every time they come to town. Me and my wife have been attending for 3 years now and this year was quite special as I got to take my little lad Tommy who is 11 months old.
I think this is one of their best shows to date the effort that has gone into the lighting and sound alone is impressive. I think coming from a performing background I can appreciate it more but the visuals and audio engaged Tommy which kept his interest. All this was before we had the first act on. The show started with the wheel of death! As you might have guessed I am a fan of variety performances. I had seen this before but as a finale not the first act so I was thinking how were they going to top this?

Miss Aurelia did an aerial hoop routine which was very smooth I imagine this was a tricky task. Vision yourself trying to be elegant and keep a smile on your face while you are hanging above an audience spinning around holding on with one foot.

The clown has always been my favourite part of the circus Mr N has taken over the role since I last saw Paulos Circus. When you look at his costume he is smartly dressed with a little facepaint on the eye brows. No red nose here making me think the persona is more of a Buster Keaton or Chaplin character. Yes he is a clown but this is how he sees it and you are invited to come into his world. As the show went on I could see the crowd growing more affectionate towards him every time he came on. Talking about Buster Keaton one of Mr N’s routines was a silent / mime act as he tryed to get onto an imaginary motorcycle with the girl and ride into the sun set. You had to be there.

Laser Man was a nice addition to this show because it takes mime to the next level. It starts off very simple one laser beam which is manipulated causing the illusion it is being bent and broken only to be fixed from there it goes crazy. All in all this is a show you can take the family to and I recommend you do. 
Paulos Circus are in York until Sunday the 29th of April at Rocko Health Club, Stirling Road, York, YO30 4TU performance times are
Thursdays and Fridays 5pm & 7.15pm
Saturdays and Sundays 2pm & 4.30pm
All seats are £7
For more information click here now go and make some memories.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Big Kids

It was my 26th birthday on Thursday the 1st of February 2018 and I was not sure what to do so I didn’t plan anything out the ordinary, go out for food and have a few drinks, simple adult things. But I am lazy when it comes to organizing get together's so I asked Vicki to sort it out. It was not really going to plan no one was interested and some friends were off to a restaurant in Hull as they have some discount vouchers so me and the wife decided to join them. I remember saying on the drive down “they decide to meet up, but they won’t do anything for me.” We get to Hull and end up at an industrial estate I ask Vicki what’s the name of this place? She said Big Fun play center. Turns out we are not meeting for food it was a surprise party.
Let me take you back to when I was a kid my mum would ask me what I wanted to do for my birthday? I would always say “Wacky Warehouse.” So every party would be at one of them places where you let the kids go crazy climbing, going down slides and ball pools etcetera while all the parents relax. Unfortunately for me I grew up and was too big for them places, a hard reality I had to face. Over the years I have performed at these venues and I would think to myself I remember how awesome this all was.
A while ago Vicki came across a video on YouTube a play center for adults and me saying “imagine how awesome that would be.” After a quick google she found one nearby but I said not to bother as no one will come and that was the last I remembered of it. But secretly she had this planned all along and invited a few friends. Turns out this was quite stressful for her making sure I didn’t find out, I did read a text from her phone saying “so what’s the plan?” but I didn’t take any notice of it.
On the night we ended up spending two hours there and had a great time and I conquered my fear of heights and went on (the drop) which is a very big steep slide. When you are sitting on the edge of this thing for the first time it feels like you are jumping to your death. Something in my head was saying this is not natural jumping off a high building frame but I did it despite what the wife said as she knows how accident prone I am. The experience reminded me why I loved these places and if you are a big kid like me I recommend you go.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

May Fayre 2017 Part 3

When I am performing at my own bookings I like to take a photo for my archive and over the years it developed into a hobby. It’s a great way to kill time in between shows and something nice to look back on as years go by. As I am taking photos of the event I am performing at I get to know other entertainers/ stall people who have also attended the event it’s a nice way to make new friends in similar business to me as well as networking. So when I go to may fayre I do the same thing in between my performances I go round snapping photos of other professors shows. There are always plenty of nice photo opportunities in London and this year was no different.

A view of the audience watching a show behind a stall.

The conversation at may fayre this year was mainly congratulations on the birth of my son. Which I found strange as he was only 12 days old and I had not told them, news travels fast in the Punch and Judy world. One of the mums of a young performer came over to say hi, she was on Facebook and showed me a post from the wife. “Not going to be one of them parents that constantly talks about their kid and posts lots of pictures but these few taken this morning amused me so couldn't resist. One is trapped wind but I'm counting it as a smile the other is his poo face lol annoyingly daddy has gone to play with toys in London so mummy has a nice surprise in that nappy waiting for her.” Even when I’m 205 miles away she’s still having a go at me.

One moment I enjoyed in the day was talking with the younger generation behind a booth looking at the new puppets they have and talking about politics and styles of performing. It made me realize I’m not one of the young ones anymore it feels like it was only yesterday I was given the title of most promising young professor. Oh well it was still nice to know Punch is safe once I have gone. It was time for my second show and I felt a little more comfortable performing as the audience were more livelier, I had no sound problems and I got some kind words from the audience afterwards. I watched a few shows around the field and it refreshed my memory of why I like particular professors, some just have a way of connecting with the audience and that’s one of the important things you must learn.

After show picture time with audience members.

It was time to pack up and I really did not want to go but I cannot say the same for everyone else it has been a long day for them so some were more eager to leave. There was a gathering at a venue near by so some of us had a drink there was then an AGM but I had a train to catch so once that started I left. I looked through the photos I got from the day and got back to York safely although I had this drunk football fan talking to me which was … well interesting, I’m not a sports person. On arriving home I see the wife and child sitting comfortably watching TV and I thought to myself that’s a nice sight to come home to.  

Thursday, 5 October 2017

May Fayre 2017 Part 2

Sunday 14th May 2017

Every time it’s a show day I wake up enthusiastic and eager to go. Which is a good thing as it’s early and I have a bit of travelling to do before I can do any performing, my enthusiasm and eagerness is what gets me through the long journey. I have always gone by train to London as I cannot be bothered with all that traffic on the road and then there is the parking to think about. But as I mentioned in the last blog everything is compact so there is no bother on the train and tubes. Lucky for me we live close to the train station the 10 minute walk helps me get the gist of pushing this trolley and to my surprise it’s not that heavy. On the journey down even though I am eager i am still not awake so strong coffee is my friend as I sit staring into space. On arrival to King’s Cross I am a little more awake and prepared for the crowds of people. It’s so busy here but I’ve got used to it over the years so onwards to Covent Garden.
We made it yay! there was a few magicians doing street shows and being a fan of magic I watched one of the acts, I find the psychology behind a busking show fascinating. From a magician’s point of view you have to watch your angles, get the audience hyped up and keep the plot simple. From a busker’s point of view you have to gather a crowd, keep their attention and make sure they pay at the end. There is so much to think about. Anyway onwards to St Pauls Church garden.
There are so many booths many of them would have arrived early in the morning one to get a car park space and to get a pitch on the grass. Lucky for me I see a space so start setting up. Usually I keep myself to myself set up the equipment and wait for show. But whilst setting up my booth it seems to be getting some attention as you might remember it was specifically made so I would be able to perform here. I got chatting to people mostly puppet enthusiast’s and hobbyist’s asking questions about the booth which would lead to other subjects. My first show of the day I thought went well but I was told afterwards a band started up drowning out the sound in my show making it difficult to hear. Not a lot I can do about that as I had already started. So I planned to do another performance but with my speaker in a different position, it’s all a learning curve.

Monday, 18 September 2017

May Fayre 2017 Part 1

Date: 3rd May 2017
Time: 6:15pm
Location: York Hospital

Vicki has been induced for health reasons and after waiting for three days the decision was to have a C section. It was my job to keep her occupied as the doctors did the operation. We knew the baby would arrive during the month of May the unpredictable part was when? For 9 months I have been nagging, hinting, and telling the wife if I do not get a gig on the date of the May Fayre I am going to it. To which she would reply to in a number of ways, mostly with words I will not repeat on here but the overall response was no.

For the ones of you thinking what is May Fayre and what’s the big deal? This was the 42nd Annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival and it celebrates the first sighting of Mr Punch in England by Samuel Pepys in May 1662. It is held in the garden of St Paul’s Church Covent Garden, London. The day starts with a grand procession led by a brass band, followed by special church service then puppet performances throughout the day. 
In 2016 I had the urge to go but due to bookings could not so had it in my head to definitely be there next year. Then I am told my kid will be due in May…………ah, oh, erm, well back to the beginning of the story at York Hospital in the operating theater.

Dan: Can I go?
Vicki: NO
Dan: Please
Vicki: NO
Dan: But it will be out so I haven’t missed anything
Vicki: Now I need your help raising a new born
Dan: Can’t you do that, I want to go play

As you can imagine this went on for a while but please note we are a sarcastic couple and it might appear we are having a go at each other but that is not the case I am sure we are not the only people like this. I say that because the midwife looked at me in a disappointing fashion and could not quite grasp how me and Vicki were talking to each other. But it did the desired effect and kept her distracted whilst two men cut into her and pulled a live human out of her. Something that will live with me for the rest of my days was the sequence of events that happened in the last second to get the baby out. Vicki’s facial reaction like she had been punched in the stomach, the sound of rushing water, the first scream of our new born baby, Vicki’s facial reaction of realization oh god that’s my kid. I guess we will talk about May Fayre later.

After one more night at the hospital we got the thumbs up and could take our new toy home. We settled into parenthood quite naturally and after being in a relationship for over 10 years we are in sync with each other so when something needed doing it was done. Then it happened “you can go” I stopped in my tracks and looked at her to double check what she said “I can manage a day without you.” After checking we were both ok with this I got planning.

First thing was do I take my show or not as it’s a lot of effort dragging a puppet theater from York to London on the train but it’s such an experience performing at May Fayre. After weighing up the pros and cons I came to the conclusion I wanted to perform so stop whining. Second thing was how do I get the theater, puppets, sound system and myself to London as in the past my mum or Vicki has come with me and even then we struggled. One year Vicki almost fell down on one of the underground escalators and you might know how tall they go. The booth got caught on a step rising up tipping the booth back and her with it lucky enough there was a fella to push her back so she didn’t fall but she did knacker her ankle in the process. Since then she has always been cautious of escalators.

After tinkering with my equipment I came up with a way one person could do it and it was not that heavy. When getting my new booth done a couple of years ago I commissioned an identical one but it would be lighter and pack smaller. Depending on the location, the event and if I needed to pack away quickly would depend on which theater I would take. If I was to put them both next to each other you would not notice any difference but on the inside it’s a completely different design. Now everything fits into the golf bag I transport it in and that is tied to a hand cart trolley and I am good to go.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Fame at last!

Near the end of last year I was booked to perform Punch and Judy at a birthday party. There was about 10 boys aged around 7 at the house party and we had a lot of fun playing games, doing magic and watching Punch get up to his old tricks. One thing I will remember from this event is how the audience was very energetic and loud but at one point in the show where the crocodile is messing about with Punch you could hear a pin drop it was amazing to hear and shows how focused they were on the what was happening.

In the hallway was a mad hatter painting and whilst setting up the show I mentioned how I liked it. It turned out the birthday boy’s nana did it and we had a nice chat about the Alice in wonderland book, the films and art.
This year I was booked back to perform at the daughters party, this time it was a magic show for a younger crowd and in a timber framed ex-army mess hall. One of the reasons I love this job it’s always different from the audience to the venue and everything in between. Moira (the nana) was there again helping out in the kitchen at the end of the party she asked “when is your son due” I said “in May” and she mentioned I will try and get a painting done for you before then.

In April I got an email saying it was done so we arranged a date and time for me to pop down and get it. When I arrived the first thing I see are all the other paintings she has done then I am presented with a present which made me feel like a kid again. Unwrapping the present I see Punch and Joey staring at me from the booth all I could think was this is awesome. After catching up and talking for about half an hour (it was mainly me rambling about punch and Judy 😃) it was time to go, but who else was there? Brayden and Demi the birthday boy and girl i did the parties for so before going I had to show them a trick (they had no choice lol.)

After my visit I went straight to The Range supermarket to get a frame and now it’s proudly displayed in the front room. For more information on Burger's Art contact moira.baldwin@icloud.com 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Spring Flings And Easter Things

Last Easter came and went in my head because I was so focused on the shows I did not make time to enjoy the season, so this year I planned to enjoy myself. It started with a competition on my Facebook page I have recently updated the fun downloads section on my website and on there is a coloring in sheet of Coco. So for the chance to win a chocolate egg and magic wand all you had to do was color in the picture and post the finished design to Professor Dan Facebook. In the future I plan to do a routine with it where coco magically colors in the picture with the help of the birthday child.

I started my Easter season at Sewerby Hall in Bridlington I seem to be here monthly and love it. I usually perform in the orangery but there were two weddings planned in there today. So I was going to perform Punch and Judy in a big marquee outside. I started the day getting all the chairs set up and the mat ready for the children to sit on at the front which made me think it’s like a little theater, once that was done I got the show ready. I always give myself plenty of time just in case things like prepping the venue is needed. I had a full house for all the shows and everyone was up for a laugh which you need to survive my act. 😊 On top of Punch and Judy we also had a balloon modeler and face painter which really added to the atmosphere. In-between shows I did a little sightseeing and had a walk around the grounds and visited the zoo I got some lovely pictures and really enjoyed the day.

The rest of my Easter season was in York’s town center so something new for 2017. Once again I was performing Punch and Judy throughout the day as well as making balloon models in between shows. The weather was great and it only rained on one day which did not stop people from enjoying themselves. Because I was in my local town center I had a few friends and family come down to support me one person was my granddad. Whilst entertaining the crowds with balloons he would shout out from a distance “I want a balloon” to which I would respond “bugger off.” I would then have to explain this is my granddad and am not randomly shouting at a pensioner. This is the kind of relationship I have with him and I love it, he is not a shy man as you can tell. Another was my wife’s friend Emma it was her birthday and she brought the family into town for a meal, and watch the show. After my performance I thank everyone for watching and if anyone would like a photo with Mr Punch make a line next to the booth and we will do so. Emma’s sister has had a little boy so we had a photo together, he was intrigued by Mr Punch which made me happy.

The wife also came down she must have been bored so I treated her to some candyfloss. Since she was there I put her to good use and made Vicki get some pictures of the audience. Because it’s the only time I can really see the excitement in the audience’s eyes. On top of Punch and Judy we had a portable farm, a few cycling activities, drama workshops and arts and crafts for the children. It was a lovely Easter and so glad I took the time to enjoy it this year.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Professor Dan's new look part 3

So we are back home from Blackpool and it’s the start of the Christmas season which I was looking forward to because I have a few regular events that book me each year and are always fun but this time I had a bunch of new customers which meant it kept me on my toes. After a week or so the photos were edited and finished and I was really pleased with the completed product. They were how I imagined them and are perfect for advertising the company.

For Balloon Modelling at your next event book Professor Dan for more information click here 

Next on the list to do is costume. If you ever see me at outdoor events or in between shows you will see me in my Prof Dan hoodie. I like to stay casual but still look professional. During December I was looking at embroidery companies because I have updated my logo I now need an updated hoodie. I tried going with somebody local and recommended to me but got nowhere, trying to get hold of them was a pain. I tried online and narrowed it down to 3 businesses once again one did not bother getting back to me this is the second time now. The second company I emailed kept changing their quote which was frustrating that left me with one final company to try lucky for me it was my preferred choice they replied in a good time and I was happy with the quote so got the new hoodies booked in. Is it just me or does everyone trying to do a simple task find it this much hard work? looking at this from a business point of view there are some sloppy lazy companies out there. Whatever service you supply replying to a customer is not hard I try to get back to everyone within a day but that’s just me. Anyway whilst waiting for a sample of the new hoodie I went on to make a start on some new business cards…

In 2014 I ordered 10,000 business cards which I think is a lot and two years later I have finally given them all out. Since I have new photos and promotional material and no more cards to give out the timing could not have been better. I decided to go with the same people I went with last time as they have never done me wrong and as the saying goes if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Trying to upload my new design however was proving a task as I am not the best with technology. The amount of times my wife has had to help me is ridiculous, it’s like teaching a toddler to spell. So I got a magician friend of mine to help I think he only did it in sympathy for me. 😊 By the end of the night we had the business cards done and something new for 2017 Professor Dan now has flyers. It’s the simple things in life that make me happy.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we are DONE!

Old Professor Dan hoodie 
New Professor Dan hoodie
Old Professor Dan business card
  New Professor Dan business card

All updated and not a moment too soon as my little lad was born in May so I am getting used to being a dad and not having to mess about updating the business is one less thing for me to worry about. I do have a few ideas I would like to do for example getting a professional show reel done for the website would be fun but for now my priorities are doing the best shows possible and becoming a family man. Wish me luck. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Professor Dan’s new look part 2

So the cartoons were done and promptly put onto the website. At the same time, I updated all my contacts to Professor Dan as before my website, email address and social media was all named different.
Website is now www.professordan.co.uk
Facebook is now Professor Dan
Funny how I did not realize nothing matched before but hey live and learn.
I used the same printing company who put the original graphics on my van to put the new images on my car. I had it in my head to get the car completely wrapped but after weighing up the pros and cons we decided to go with just stickers and am quite pleased with the finished product.
In 2011 for Vicki’s birthday I booked a photo shoot and I wanted some shots of me doing magic and one with Punch and Judy. These ended up being used for my business cards for 6 years. I guess I got my money’s worth out of those pictures as it did cost me a lot at the time, even now I am hazed why I spent so much.
 Close up magic shot from 2011
Me with Punch 2011

Since I am re vamping the look of the company I thought I should get some new head shots done for business cards, promoting myself to agents and when performing at events the images can be on the poster saying, “roll up roll up Professor Dan will be entertaining at our event.” I decided to go with a photography company originally from Las Vegas but now in Blackpool as they specialized in people in the entertainment industry. I also noticed a few magicians have worked with this company and after a phone chat he knew what I was aiming for so we booked it in.

I took Vicki as we decided to make a few days of it starting with the photo shoot then a meal in the evening. Then the next couple of days doing tourist things. Afterwards it was straight home to get shows ready for that week’s work. The photo shoot itself was an experience I realized my personality has changed since 2011 because back then I loved being in front of the camera but now not so much. During the photo shoot I had a few ideas we played around with but started to enjoy it more when the team were coming up with suggestions and we kept getting more creative which led to some lovely shots. Now there are only a few more things to do and we are done. For more information on entertainment at your next event visit www.professordan.co.uk

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Professor Dan’s new look part 1

Hi Everyone

So as some of you might be aware the company has a new look, this blog goes behind the scenes and talks about the theory of the new look.
What triggered off this idea was the confirmation of me and the wife having our little boy due in May 2017. At the time I had a van which had two seats with there now being three of us I had to get a car. I did suggest just let the kid roll around in the back whilst I drive but the wife was all “that’s not safe” rubbish. 😉 So we got a new car with plenty of room for my equipment and it’s blue to match my theme. Turns out I did not need that much space because all my props can fit in the boot but the extra room has come in handy. The question now is shall I just keep the car as it is or put my graphics on like I did with my van.

The original cartoons I got done were made by me and my cousin they did the job and got the message across at the time. But these were done a few years ago and lucky for me the business has naturally improved which meant I could afford to get more professionally made images so decided this was the right time to do so. It took a long time to get the right graphic designer. The first person I tried did not understand what I was asking him to do and his designs were amateurish. My problem is I have the cartoons in a specific way but no skill to accomplish it so have to nit-pick at each detail till they do it correct in my head. Eventually I found someone who could do it in a unique style the way I wanted it and the graphics looked a lot more professional than that of the first guy I tried.

It was tricky to start with because we were updating existing cartoons and not creating it from scratch. So trying to get each element right took a bit of time but the more we did it the easier it got for each cartoon. Eventually they were all done now the real work can begin.