What to do when bubbles do not work as well on-stage as they do when you are practicing at home.
The experience you’ve described is one I hear often, including the “what can I do about it?” question. For whatever it’s worth, this is my general response:
Success is purchased with struggle and perseverance. It always will be. Accepting that is one thing, living it is altogether different.
Of course it is better, as much as possible, to struggle on your own time and without an audience.
You can get double or triple benefit from your practice if you choose to do it somewhere that doesn’t make you feel safe and comfortable. As in, find other places besides your own home to practice in - if you’re not doing that already.
Practice in the kinds of spaces you’ll be performing in whenever possible.
Ask to borrow a big open room or the auditorium at your local library.
Some people are shocked to find the bubbles they know so well behave so differently beyond the realm of their basement... folks like that should at least spend some time practicing in their garage.
I guess the moral of the story is to keep your expectations in check. Until you’ve got more practical experience about how to compensate in different environments — give yourself a break. (And hold off from marketing your act too heavily, unless you intend to host shows at home.)
Working on stage with bubbles is not like juggling, balloon twisting, magic, music. . .
It is MUCH MORE like presenting an animal act.
They respond differently and might surprise you at any and every new venue or change in environment. So how do you prepare for that? Learn how to "read" the room.
Airflow, temperature, humidity, local water quality, HVAC, lighting, backdrops, audience seating, air quality (is there dust or spray paint/hair spray propellant in the air?) etc & etc.
At some point "reading the room" will become second nature. You'll instinctively make small changes in your technique to get the best out of your bubbles no matter where you are presenting them.
Until then: Practice anywhere & everywhere you can. It is so much better to learn from your mistakes in rehearsal than in front of an audience.
Bubbles are the stars of the show. Support them. Learn their personalities. Respect them. Watch them and respond to their needs.
Being a bubble-pro means you can deliver these 2 things:
1. The show and audience reactions you promised over the phone.
2. The show and audience reactions your client is expecting to see.
Those can be 2 very different things.
Failing to deliver either one is the shortest path to a bad reputation.
Do NOT take jobs you are not ready for. When the call comes in: Ask a lot of questions to discover the nature and goals of the event, logistics, audience demographics, etc, etc.
Then ask yourself, "Am I ready to take this job?" Have you done something like this before? The fact that you REALLY want it should have nothing to do with your decision. Be honest with yourself and your clients. Or you will be sorry.
A client asks you to do a 50 minute bubble show on a stage for a group of 100 kids and their parents.
You've done shows like that before so you take the job. Did you, however, ask all the right questions? NO.
Do not be surprised on the day of the show to discover it is an outdoor event in an open field on a windy day with no sound system.
Will the client get angry when you do only those 20 minutes of material possible and no one could hear you anyway? Yes. Is this trouble your client's fault? No. Are you going to ask to be paid anyway? I hope not.
Your client has every right not to pay you.
Worse? They may tell everyone, forever after, that your show STINKS. That is the impression you made after not delivering on your promises.
Q: So, what is your best protection against building a terrible reputation?
A: A Guarantee. If your client is not happy with the show you deliver, they can rip up your check.
Say those words to them on the phone, BEFORE you quote your fee.
A guarantee does 2 things: It keeps you from talking yourself into unsuitable situations. It relaxes your clients and gets them to "YES!" faster.
The BONUS of a guarantee? Not one other entertainer will be offering a guarantee for their acts. This gives you a chance to ask your client, "Did those other entertainers say why they are not guaranteeing their work?"
In the end, guarantee does this: It keeps you honest and focused on your client's best interests... which is in fact a big part of the job of being a Pro.
Yes, I've offered a guarantee on every show I've done for more than 20 years. No, I have never had to rip up a check.
If you are worried that clients will simply tell you they didn't like the show as an excuse for not paying you, relax. Give guarantees a try. The handful of other entertainers I've talked with who offer guarantees have not had trouble either.
And the upside of offering a guarantee is HUGE. More than anything you are currently spending advertising money on, a guarantee will boost your income.
Yes, stretch yourself to take new kinds of jobs because that is the only way to grow as a performer. But guarantee those jobs as well so the risk is on you more than your client.
There's a lot more to being a pro-bubbler than an ability to make bubbles.