Show Biz, The Art of Variety

By Ira Seidenstein

August 25, 2020

There was a time when one said they were in “show business” or “show biz”. The performers understood that they shared a common bond with their colleagues whether they were singers, actors, dancers, circus artistes, musical theatre performers, etc. It was also a business that thrived in diversity and international artistes who traveled to perform. The supporting folks who made the entertainment industry flow included producers, technicians, agents, and publicists.

There is one episode that illustrates the variety of skills and aesthetics. The Hollywood Palace series 1 episode 10 hosted by Dean Martin. Go to youtube to see it.

The show is televised but all of the performers were specialists in live theatre of a vaudeville style. Someone has said that the purpose of radio and television was actually as a means to sell products. Entertainment is still used as a tool for promotions of alls sorts of agendas and arts councils and their gatekeepers ensure that current agendas are the only ones that get support. Even in an arthouse venue, there is a commercial point with their own bar sales and imposed intervals of shows are also in place to increase bar sales.

This episode of The Hollywood Palace was chosen strictly spontaneously. The series had seven seasons each of about 12 episodes? It was a fluke that one part of the comedian’s routine mentions a political choice and this week now is a political convention (week of August 24, 2020). That comedian is Jackie Mason who became a most influential inspiration to the following generations of comedians.

With my numerous social media posts, I never suggest that you should like what is posted. However, as you will see in this episode there are acts and skills which we are unlikely ever to see again. We can see though that in terms of physical performance, clown, comedy, and pure entertainment craftsmanship each performer and piece is of a high standard, yet, I am still not saying that you ‘should like’ any of it. For those who genuinely want to develop your ability as an entertainer – there are over 70 more episodes to see, study, and learn about ‘Show Biz’. Notably, within The Four Articulations for Performance (chapter 2 of Clown Secret) one of the numerous exercises is “The Charlie Chaplin…the entertainer Exercise” is a hint that the earlier generation of clowns each understood that they were entertainers, in show business.

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Ira Seidenstein