Passing the Hat
Have you ever noticed that most fairs allow the performers and the entertainer to the pass the hat at the end of the show? There is a reason for this andd I would like to go into that now.
Passing the hat is how you tip the performers. This is no different then tipping a waiter or waitress for good service. When you recieve good service you tip. When you are entertained at the Ren Fair… YOU TIP!
Now, the question becomes, how much do you tip. Well I would say that should depend on how much you enjoyed the show. If you really dug Barely Balanced, then tip them accordingly. Put a 5 spot in the hat, bag or whatever it is that they are passing around. If you came back for every show that they had that day, put a 10 in the bag. Realize that this is how these folks make heir living. they spend the majority off the year on the road. They tour from town to town, city to city, trying to make our lives more enjoyable by doing what they love. They have spent time and money learning their craft.
The entertainers spend money each season going to fairs. They also have to outfit and stage a show each year. Mounting a show (costumes, props and promotional items) each year is not cheap. They also have to make sure that their choices will work at every venue they work at. If they are working a small stage at one fair and then a big stage the next, that has to be taken into consideration. If your act involves a lot of props, then you will have to replace those props. Think about the amount of fuel that Paulo Garbanzo uses to keep his flaming clubs alight. Think about the pasta that Don Juan and Miguel use up during a season. Think about the sheer amount of tights that the Tortugas go through. All kidding aside, shows are not cheap and the passing of the hat keeps these tremendous entertainers working to make us happy.
They have also spent time learning to do what they do. Let’s take juggling for an example. I am a horrible juggler. I can keep three balls in the air but that is about it. Juggling poorly is one of the hardest things I have ever learned. I can not imagine the amount of time that it would take to learn to be proficient at juggling, much less good enough to do it in front of people and get paid for it. When you add to that the fact that some of these performers are learning multiple acts, writing their own material, producing their own swag and doing their own marketing they have tied their entire lives and countless hours into their craft. Appreciate them!
The Ren Fair performers have spent a lot of time getting good at what they do, when the hat is passed, don’t slink away from the crowd when the hat is passed. Don’t pretend that you don’t have any cash by checking your pockets furiously. Reach into your pocket and pull out some ones or fives or tens and begin to stuff them into the hat. You will be amazed at the smile you will bring to the performers faces. In fact think about the smiles they just brought to your face and see if you can’t return the favor.
-Bobaganush the Pirate