The Variety Artist Podcast with John Abrams
I’ve been diving into a great new podcast (The Variety Artist Podcast) that features variety artists talking about their work, how they got involved, and tips and tricks for both beginners and working pros. It’s something that I think many readers of this blog would be interested in. (And it makes me a little envious that I didn’t start doing this first!)
The podcast is called The Variety Artist Podcast, and is hosted by John Abrams. John is a working pro who now does primarily school assembly shows that feature magic and comedy. He does around 400 school shows a year in the southern California area! He has two shows about bullying, a show about character, and a show that features exotic animals. I’ve never seen him perform, but his reviews and videos look stellar. If I were booking school shows, I’d book him. (And you can too, his website for school assemblies is https://amazingschoolassemblies.com/)
The podcast is a fun listen– he gets some really great performers and asks some pretty interesting questions. John is very personable, and the interviews move along at a good clip. Most of them are green-roomish conversations. (If you met up with an artist at a gig, and you both were waiting in the green room to go on. There’s joking, and laughing, and some pretty great stories.)
I’ve listened now to about 10 in a row (primarily by people who I know or who I’ve worked with) They are a little formulaic– Each one is between 45 and 60 minutes, starts with an origin story, and then moves into performing horror stories or performing ideas. John often asks questions about process, either about creating an act or touring an act. Towards the end, there is a segment called “Did John make this up” where he asks the guest some questions about some of their weirdest gigs or talents. The podcast ends with a book recommendation and tips for beginning and professional performers.
Another thing I really like about the podcast is the community. John hosts a facebook group of variety artists, and he allows people to ask questions to ask his guests. Many are friends of the guest, but they all bring out a little bit of uniqueness to each interview.
Because John is a comedy magician, I think the podcast skews a little towards magic, but there’s lots of great and applicable information for clowns, comedians, and circus. And there’s lots of other guys out there (On the interview roster is Matt Wilhelm, a BMX biker turned school assembly guy, David Rosdeitcher, the Zip Code man, who has memorized all of the zip codes in the country, and knows an interesting fact about each place, and hacky sack champion Peter Irish, who called in from Rome where he is roaming the world.) So I guess you could say there’s a fair amount of Variety!
I really have enjoyed some of the more business-related conversations- he chats with Andrew Pogson, who is a talent agent, and gives some invaluable tips about working with an agency. Andrew tells a great truth when he says that most agencies have a harder time with unique acts, because often times their client wants a commodity (Great jugglers/Great magicians/Great stiltwalkers) They don’t know and don’t want something out of the ordinary necessarily. He also chats with former Magic builder Brian Daniel South, who relies the travails of being a magic manufacturer, and with Doug Scheer, one of the top School Assembly performers, on what makes a great school assembly show. All had great information.
I also really enjoyed the talks with some of my friends and colleagues, including Michael Lane Trautman, Keith Nelson, Amy Gordon, Avner Eisenberg, and Leland Faulkner, to name a few. I learned a lot from them, and even heard some stories I hadn’t heard before. I am trying to get through all of them, but since there are over 90 shows, it’s a long haul. Fortunately, I do a lot of driving!
In short, the Variety Artist Podcast is well worth subscribing to if you are a professional or aspiring performer. You will learn a great deal and hear some hilarious stories in the process.
To find out more and listen, visit https://www.thevarietyartist.com/
You can also visit The Variety Artist Facebook Group.