Entries tagged with “Performance Stories”.

This afternoon I had a really fun gig in downtown Indianapolis. It was for a party at RATIO Architects. Every month they have their 4th Friday at 4 Party, where at four o’clock snacks and drinks appear, and for the first time they decided to hire professional entertainment… that’d be me. Being at a place that has a party for their employees every single month almost made me want to get a job.

When I was hired they told me that the president had done a few yo-yo tricks at one of the parties in the past, and after my show today he came up to chat. His name is Bill Browne, and he told me that 30 years ago he and a friend set the world record for the longest session of continuous yo-yoing. They went to a radio station and yo-yoed for something like 30 hours straight! I didn’t get as much information about the event as I would have liked so I went home, got online, and checked out the Guinness Book of World Records site. I didn’t link to it because it is not worth your time. There are almost no records to be found on the site despite the fact that they have a search box, so don’t even bother. I can list more world records from memory than I was able to find in my searches of their site. I KNOW that there are more than 6 records in the category of “food” for example.

Anyway, the more I’ve thought about it the more I’m intrigued by this “longest continuous yo-yoing” record. I may just have to contact Bill again and see if I can get more information.

I performed in Rocky Ripple today. It’s the neighborhood that is just a little south of Broadripple… since I’m sure that you all know where Broadripple is. And yes, that’s it’s real name.

It was a fun little fair. Very cozy, very comfy, with maybe 15-20 vendors and a small kids area. They had a little set-up for bands that were playing throughout the day, and they asked me to come to do a couple of short sets while the bands were switching over. Everything was very casual and low-key, and I wasn’t really sure there were enough people for me to gather much of a crowd.

My first set was about 20-25 minutes long and it went really, really well. I kind of felt like the old-time circus that comes to a small town and gets mobbed by spectators. This was not a rural neighborhood or anything, we were right in the middle of Indianapolis, but by the time I started my finale I think I had every person at the fair standing around watching me. It was great. Afterward I overheard one of the people involved in the fair half-joking, “…maybe we should forget about the bands and just have jugglers and magicians and stuff….”

My second set wasn’t quite as long or as packed, but I’m sure some of the people from the first show were still at the fair and wanted to give other people a chance at the front row ;) When I started I noticed that there was a girl in the front row who was about 8 years old and had been at my first show. As soon as I did my first trick she said, “Don’t you have a different show you can do for us?”
“If you’ve seen my show before, then you’re gonna see it again!” I said, and so she got up and left. It was very funny.

I gave out a bunch of business cards, which was my real goal, and we’ll see if anything comes of it.

I was performing up at the Wisconsin State Fair last month and after my show I was handing out my new super-hero themed trading cards. One kid got his, took a few steps away, and stopped to look at it. After a minute or so he came back over to me and said,

“In this picture it looks like you are wearing a cape.”

“Yeah, I am.” I said.

“Ok… then why aren’t you wearing a cape now?” he said.

It took me a second to suppress my smile and come up with the right response.

” Well, sometimes I like to keep a low profile and just go out in my civilian clothes.”

“Oh, ok.” he said, and walked off.

It did make me wonder though, of all the people who see my show, what percentage of them would actually think the show was better if I was wearing a cape?

Get your own Mark Hayward trading cards here.

I had a near catastrophe at the Wisconsin State Fair this year. The last routine that I do in my outdoor show is a combination trick where I do a whole bunch of stuff at once. I juggle two balls in one hand, do Loop-the-Loop with a yo-yo in the other hand, spin a top on a helmet on my head, pump a foot-pump that is attached to a squeaky balloon with my foot, and blow a party horn with my mouth. Not surprisingly, I need some help to get the trick started, so I always ask for a volunteer.

When I select my volunteer I usually point at them and mention what color they are wearing, or if they have a hat or glasses or some other distinguishing feature. Then, especially if they are unsure who I’m talking about, I sometimes say, “Yeah you, the one with the head… and the arms.”

I was doing a show for a really big crowd at the Wisconsin State Fair, and when it was time to pick a volunteer I picked a little Asian boy who had his hand up. He hesitated, so I started to say my standard thing, but since he was partially obscured behind another kid I said, “Yeah you, the one with the head… and the arm.” It was a good thing that I switched to the singular because when he stood up, everyone could immediately see that he only had one arm. The crowd got nervous.


I just finished up three days at the Cass County Fair in Cassopolis Michigan. It’s a nice little fair with barns, animals, food on a stick, a demolition derby, and a tractor & truck pull. You know, all the good stuff. The problem was that it was 97 degrees and humid each day with a heat index of 114. Ug. It’s hard to get an audience involved when they are so hot they don’t even want to breathe. The show must go on though. I actually got lucky most of the time and had at least one family or group at each show who was into it despite the heat. Since there were no air-conditioned buildings for me to rest in, I was trapped in my car between shows. I’d just go park in the shade somewhere, drink lots of water, and read or take a nap. I didn’t want to have to spend that much time in my car, but it was way better than being in the heat.

Another thing that helped (mostly) was that the kids from the nearby vendors and stuff would come to every show. Sometimes they couldn’t help themselves and just had to spoil a punchline before I could say it, but for the most part it was just great to have people watching. This was my first year at the fair, so I don’t have any basis for comparison, but the heat had to be keeping people away.

My favorite regulars were Ernie and Mike. They came to the fair every day and watched every show that they could. After Mike finished with his job at McDonalds the brothers would come over to the fair grounds, wander around for a bit, and watch all three of my shows… without giving away any of the jokes.

Halfway through my last show, after suffering through the heat for three days, a cold front moved in. It made that last show a really good one since the audience was much happier, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed with my buddy Wayne Francis since he was coming in to work the last three days of the fair and wouldn’t have to suffer like I did. I asked the ladies in the fair office to punch him for me when they saw him.

Yesterday was the first day of Summerfest in Milwaukee WI. I had already done my two street shows for the day and was getting ready for my 4:00 appearance on the Children’s Stage when the power went out for the entire Summerfest grounds and surrounding area. But of course, the show must go on.

Instead of using the now dead in-house PA, I just hooked up my portable battery-powerd PA and we were off and running. I got one of the best cheers I’ve ever gotten at Summerfest when I announced that “Summerfest may not have power, but I DO!” It was followed closely by a woman saying, “You must be the Cool Yo-yo Man!” “Yes I am.”

Right after I finished my set, my ventriloquist friend Wayne Francis, pointed out that out of the 75 acres and 10 major stages, I was the only powered act on the entire grounds. As it turns out, he wasn’t exactly right… I was one of three… all variety acts. After my set I let the Dance School use my PA for their big public showing. Without me they couldn’t have done their show at all. That’s right, a juggler, a magician, and the yo-yo guy SAVED Summerfest! Maybe now the big dogs will once again see the value of having us there, but somehow I doubt it. Don’t worry though, I’m going to milk this for all it’s worth… and then some.

I spent this week on the road doing shows. Monday was the Summer Music Clinic up in Madison WI, Tuesday and Wednesday down in Evansville IN, and then Thursday back up North to Skokie IL. It would’ve been nice if I could have had better routing so I didn’t have to do so much driving, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.


This weekend my neighborhood, Woodruff Place, is having their annual flea market. It’s kind of a big deal, and I’m told that last year there were about 6000 people who came through, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to do some street performing. Although the money would of course be nice, my real goal was to pass out business cards in an effort to try to get more local work, and spend less time driving to Chicago.

I have to say that I did have high hopes, and unfortunately, even my worst-case scenario was too rosy. I’m not quite sure what the problem was yesterday, but my two shows were pretty dismal. The first one wasn’t too bad, although a little sparse, but the second show was so painful that I actually cut it short. Not every event is a good place to perform, and now I’m thinking that bargain hunters in this town aren’t interested in wasting time watching a show when there are bargains to be had. There may also be a clash of style. In order to enjoy my show you do have to use your brain at least a little bit, and I couldn’t get the people watching my second show to engage in any way. At all. Seriously. Even when prompted, they wouldn’t respond. It was like they were dead. Or not even aware that they were watching a show. I had three fellow Indy Jugglers watching (yeah, that was embarassing) and they were usually the only ones reacting in any way.

In the end, I passed out very few cards, and made $13.53 in the first show, and $3 in the second show. Not my worst street show ever (35 cents and an apple split between two people), but it was pretty bad. Unless it’s really packed out there today, with people with pockets full of cash grumbling about how there are no good street performers in this town, I will be better off sitting in the dark watching reruns of The Golden Girls than trying to do any more shows.