The Last Thing I Put On, Are My Shoes.
It’s been written that you can tell a lot about an individual just by their shoes. Author and blogger Seth Goldin once gave a presentation on stage dressed in a suit and barefoot.
Genesis drummer and legendary singer Phil Collins in the 1980’s accepted awards in a suit and gym shoes. A trend that entertainers still mimic as gym shoes have taken on their own personal status ranking.
The Covid-19 effect has created a market for virtual shows, and it had me wondering, are virtual entertainers wearing shoes?
The assumption about male TV sports broadcasters or news anchorperson is, the pants don’t match the suits. We joke that pants are optional in a zoom meeting as the webcam only broadcasts our body’s top 1/3.
“Yes, I wear shoes. But because I’m shooting a 3/4 view, the audience only sees me from my knees up. I wear very comfortable shoes that don’t match the rest of my outfit since they are never seen on camera”, said magician Robert Baxt.
So I asked this question to the entertainment community and was surprised with the results.
My first thought was people would be performing in their home studios, barefoot. Unseen by the camera, the need for shoes would be a nonissue. Boy, was I wrong!
Shoes are a requirement for many entertainers doing virtual shows. “I put them on for how it makes me feel rooted and on a solid foundation,” says magician Benjamin Feinblum.
Magician D.R. Schreiber told me he felt incomplete or not in character. “Yes. My attire is part of my character, which is key to my act.”
When I think about it, it’s not surprising because, in my early years as a professional clown, I needed to be in full costume for the character to come fully alive.
It wasn’t until I evolved into a balloon entertainer that I realized I didn’t need a costume to make people laugh. Yet, people spend their entire life branding a character; I can relate to that need to be fully in character.
Piano entertainer Dan Gillogly said,” he wore socks.” Magician Michael Karl wears house slippers, and magician Jeff Quinn talked about how he abandoned his shoes as his footsteps and shoe squeaking on the hardwood floor were picked up by studio mics and had to go barefoot to reduce foot noise.
At one point, magician Phil Ackerly questioned, “What kind of shoes?” As he is getting comfortable in sneakers.
The smallest group was the freestyling barefoot entertainers. Who like me have their feet free of confinement. Toes are clutching at the floor carpet. “Nope. Bare feet all the way here in Southern CA!” replied balloon entertainer Annie Caldwell.
When I was building my virtual show, I have to admit that I too questioned do I wear shoes or not? The first time dress rehearsal, I was dressed from head to toe and walked or glided across the carpeted studio floor. Walking felt different. I was so fixated on getting all the technology right and new material in place that I practiced barefooted up to this point. Wearing shoes just felt wrong.
What was my takeaway? Every entertainer has their style, but I never would have guessed the number of people wearing shoes for a virtual show, outnumber the barefoot performers.
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