One of the popular sources of entertainment on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the center of Madrid seems to be street performers. We discovered a clown of sorts performing in one large square. We stopped to watch for a while, but as hard as the crowd was laughing, his humor didn’t translate for us.
Reminds me of when I was in Korea as a teenager. I went to see one of the Beverly Hills Cop movies with some Korean friends. It was in English but subtitled in Korean. I would laugh out loud about 10 seconds before the rest of the audience. That was embarrassing enough, but what was really embarrassing was when I would laugh so hard my eyes would water and the rest of the audience never started laughing even after they got caught up reading the subtitles. Not sure what was lost in translation, but I felt a little exposed laughing in the dark surrounded by people wondering what was so funny.
Back in Madrid, as we wandered from square to square and fountain to fountain, we discovered different forms of street performance around every corner. There was the fairly traditional “dress like something that shouldn’t move and hold really still” approach. Then, there was the “put three heads on a table and try to startle passers-by” approach that seemed like it had been borrowed from a haunted house. There were also collections of puppet-like animals that would start making a variety of noises as people walked by.
There were the requisite magicians as well. While I was tempted to take some shots of all of these clever performers, etiquette requires change if you take a picture. Since I only had American dollars on me, that wasn’t an option.
I did cheat on this rule. Two magicians were clever enough to create the illusion that one of them sitting on the ground was holding a chair over his head in one hand while the other magician sat in it. This was just so much effort on their parts that I had to take a picture.
Unfortunately, so as not to breech etiquette too much, I took the shot from far away–hopefully you can tell from the image what they looked like. We figured out that the hand holding the chair was fake and that a metal support was going up the sleeve and down to the seat the guy on the bottom was sitting on, allowing him to balance the weight of the guy above him. It’s still rather ingenious.
I have to wonder what makes a person decide to invest this kind of creativity into their street art. Are these guys engineers Monday-Friday and magicians on Sunday afternoon? Were they watching some other magic trick one day of perhaps a guy spinning a chair on his hand and they suddenly looked at each other and said, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if . . . “?
Whatever their story is, I appreciate the trick.