"A circus performance can be likened to a diamond. Each act is like a single facet and should contribute its own particular sparkle. Folks don't come to see any particular act. They come to see the whole show." -- Dorothea J. Snow Circus Boy War on Wheels
Each part of a show is important. Each part has a specific part to play. In the International Humanitarian Clown Show that I produced at the recent World Clown Association Convention in Borneo, I selected RONE and Gigi performing their Blues Brothers juggling act as the opening act because it was fast paced and attention grabbing. After that I selected acts performed by representatives of the main types of clowns because the show was to have an educational function. Those acts were introduced with a short explanation of the character and its history. I selected Aurora Krause doing her "Make Believe" act because it was a perfect example of the playful nature of the Auguste clown. Later in the show I had Sam Tee perform a slower paced inspirational routine that provided a heart to the show. I thought each act was wonderful at what they did. I was also glad to see that there weren't egos involved. Everyone appreciated the other acts and nobody acted as if they thought they were more important than anybody else.
One act about half way through the show was very different from the others. That was a magic act performed in a dramatic fashion by Victor Low. It did not include any comedy. We evaluate things by comparing them to others. By including Victor's act in the show the contrast made his act more dramatic and made the clown acts seem funnier.
I saw this same principle applied in reverse during other performances in Borneo. I saw two performances by cultural dance groups. The dances were graceful and beautiful. The costumes were gorgeous. In the middle of these performances there was a warrior demonstrating his skill with a blow gun in an act with an audience volunteer on stage and much comedy. The warrior wore a simple costume of a loin cloth and fur collar. The contrast to the elegance of the dances enhanced the entire show. That is one function of clown acts in circus and variety shows.
In a diamond each facet is a change in direction. Facets in a diamond may be similar, but the change in direction allows each to sparkle. In a show, each act should be a change in direction from the one preceding it. For example, in the show I produced in Borneo there were three acts that played music. Sam Tee played the ukulele. RONE and Gigi played bells. Arthur Pedlar played a variety of musical instruments while Randy Christensen accompanied him on a keyboard. I didn't put those three acts in a row. I put other acts that went in a different direction between them. There were two magic acts in the show, and I separated them by other types of acts.
The examples that I have used above are from shows with acts performed by several different entertainers. However, the principle is the same in a solo show. Each individual routine should be considered as an act. In one of my shows I perform three or four juggling routines. I don't perform those routines in a row, but put other types of routines between them. I perform several audience interaction routines, but don't bunch them together. Each routine in my show is a change in direction which allows every one to sparkle when compared to the others.
Most of my shows are done without speaking. When I became more involved in clown ministry I wanted to start adding spoken routines with a serious message. At first I was hesitant about mixing serious and comedy in that venue. However, as I began doing it I discovered that the principle of contrast makes this more effective. Some people in clown ministry are hesitant to include routines that are strictly for comedy. However, if they do that they will find that the entire presentation will be stronger.
In creating a show, how can you make sure that each facet sparkles? How can you pick the right one to fill specific needs? In planning the order of acts and routines how can you change direction with each facet?