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.





Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Another day at the office

One of the perks about this job is it’s never the same, some days are better than others but as a whole it’s always interesting. Even when you perform to the same audience it’s never the same twice and it can be for several reasons, venue, weather, number attending ect.

I thought it would be interesting to tell you what happened on Sunday the 30th of November 2016. Just to fill you in the night before me and the wife went shopping and after locking the door she mentioned it felt a little difficult, but we took no notice and went onward to the shops.

The next morning Vicki had gone to work and shortly after I got ready for my gig in Bridlington I have done this event before so had the day planned. Once ready I got my keys to open the door to realise the key had broken. That would explain why she had difficulty locking it the night before. So what am I going to do, we only had one key each and mine was knackered. My plan was this I would lug my Punch and Judy equipment out of the window. This consisted of a golf bag, box of puppets, amp, weights, chair and another box of essentials. You would think I was robbing the place climbing in and out through the window which is not instantly a natural thing for me to do, have you jumped out of a window, if so how many times?

All the equipment was in the car now what, should I leave the window open till I get back or waste more time driving to get the key off Vicki to lock the window then drive back to her work then go to my booking. In the end that’s what I did she looked at me confused as I shouted “KEY, GIVE ME YOUR KEY, NO TIME TO EXPLAIN, BACK IN 20 MINUTES” but by this point in our 10 year relationship she is used to my randomness.

Everything was good the gear is ready, the house is locked and Vicki has the key again. All I have to do now is get to Brid, luckily I always give myself extra time so I was still early for the event nothing can go wrong now……… well.

I arrived in the town centre it was very busy and there was no vehicle movement so two stewards had to help me lug the equipment which is tricky when there is a big crowd to get through and a long way to walk. Punch and Judy perform their first show of three and it went down well. Except half way through the first performance when the audience are getting into the flow I get a tap on my back, remember I am in a box so someone is now inside with me. It was one of the stewards saying “stop the show Father Christmas cannot get through.” I did as requested they are the ones that booked me so best to keep them happy and afterwards carried on with the show.


Turns out I had gathered an audience big enough to block the street meaning no one could get by even Santa. From in my box I tend to go into a little trance and am so focused on the manipulation, the equipment, audience management, the show and trying to get as many laughs as I can I was not aware of the size Punch had gathered. After my first performanc e I was told by the event to pack up because I was a hazard no one could get by when the show was on. So an early finish for Punch that day and it goes to show it’s never the same but hey it’s another day at the office for this Professor. Oh and I now have three spare keys lesson learnt.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The origin of Coco part 3

On the day of his arrival I was very excited and we took lots of photos for publicity purposes and I got used to operating him. I already had the routine I planned to do rehearsed despite not having the puppet but now I could finally put the two together it took a few days but I soon got the hang of it. The routine I came up with was so unique I have never seen anything like it before which made me very proud and it was all thanks to a prop I bought. As far as I am aware it’s the only one of its kind. Picture this a wooden garden set with two plant pots at each end. A worm can pop up out of one plant pot then run to the other side and pop his head out of the other. It’s a simple plot but there is so much you can do with it.
So the routine was this after introducing Coco to the audience he wanted to show everyone his garden and all we were going to do is plant these flowers simple, or is it? The audience would notice the worm and after several attempts Coco catches the worm and then we plant the flowers and water them ending with him squirting me in the face. After performing this for one year I decided to stop. I was having a clear out of all my big props because I had too many things and there is only so much stuff you can do in a two-hour party no matter how awesome I thought it was so I got rid of the garden and a few other things. I had a little brainstorming session and tried to come up with something just as good if not better than my original routine. I wanted to stay away from Coco performing magic because I am already doing enough of that in the show and I wanted this to be the breather in the performance and give it a little more variety.
After a brief hiatus Coco is back in the show and I wish I did it sooner because I have missed working with him and so have the kids. As you read this it might sound like I think he is real I know it’s strange but as a puppeteer you need to have that mind frame because if I do not think of him as a real person why should you the audience. I will not give too much away about his new routine but it has a few new surprises in the act and he does like the circus.
So what’s the future for Coco well we are working on more gags for his act. I am going to have to start keeping a note book spare instead of having random notes with ideas on everywhere. One of my ideas is to have a trick based around him after he has done his bit in the show and it will be a present for the birthday child. Afterwards it will be a giveaway for the other children at the party but it is early days yet. I will keep you posted on what is happening and how he is developing as a performer possibly write another blog about it but keep up to date with me by following me on Twitter @ProfDanSlater click here to like my Facebook page. Last but not least if you would like to know more about entertainment services I can provide for your event simply go to www.dan-slater.co.uk apart from that thank you for reading and I’ll see you soon.

Friday, 21 October 2016

The origin of Coco part 2

That Christmas my wife Vicki got me a book called hand puppet magic by Ian Adair and it gave me loads of ideas from set ups to routines which really helped me decide on everything I was going to do.
The next thing to decide on was where I was going to get a rabbit puppet from, I had a look on Google and lots of versions came up but they were children’s toys and didn’t look how I imagined it would. They were also not practical and too small. For a while I considered getting a wooden head version like in Punch and Judy but decided to keep the two separate. I asked friends in the entertainment business and they recommended a few puppet makers and let me tell you a professional puppet is not cheap. Yes, it is made of just material but it is a specialised skill, I got quoted £2701 by one maker. I looked around and came across two people whose puppets stood out to me their work was unique and I liked that, they were professional and friendly. Sadly, one was out of my price range so went with the other company but I didn’t regret it.

Here is an example of why collecting puppets can be an expensive hobby. This Fizzgig puppet from Jim Henson's Labyrinth sold in the region of £8,000 - 10,000  
What was this character going to look like? I already had a cartoon rabbit on my website and promotional material. At the time I needed something that said I did magic in an image so drew a rabbit in a hat simple. I gave the designer this picture as a starting point and told him a few specific things I wanted the puppet to have and left him to it. The maker kept me up to date on the building process because I am intrigued in how it is all done and after a few trial and errors on his side it was done. Now I am getting excited.
While the puppet was being made I held a competition on my Prof Dan Facebook page to try and find a name for this new character one of the suggestions was Mr Cuddles but in the end we went with Coco short and simple. Now all we had to do was wait for him to arrive.
Entertainer
Professor Dan Slater