In this game, we’re always trying to think of ways to make ourselves and our acts more dynamic and make ourselves stand out among a sea of literally thousands of performers and acts. Which is why having a punchy and interesting title to your act matters.
What’s In A Name?
A name is really important, it gives you an identity and informs how others will see you and sets them up for what is to follow. We all make judgements on first impressions and that’s why an interesting name is crucial to your introduction to the burlesque, cabaret and theatrical world. If you’ve not already got a performer name head over here for some ideas and the low down on what a name does in this industry.
Naming Your Act
You might not think it’s important to name your act, but naming an act is much better than a booker asking, “you know? The one with the green costume where you pour Absynthe on yourself”. Not only does it help distinguish your acts, but a good name will help them stand out from similar acts (yes, similar does happen a lot – as long as it’s not direct copying of an act).
Performing A Straight Classic Burlesque Act
If this is your style, there are loads of options available to you when naming your act. You could go with the title of one of the songs you are using, combined with your name – eg: Lilly’s Bumps And Grinds or Lilly’s St James’ Infirmary Blues. It won’t stand out as much from the crowd but it demonstrates it’s your version of that particular tract.
You could also focus on the main colour of your costume – eg Golddust if your costume is mainly golds, Ruby if reds, Emerald (as we believe the lovely Bruise Violet’s act, pictured here, is called) or even Precious Stones if it is a particularly sparkly act. Another option is to focus on the mood you are trying to create or the feeling you are trying to show – eg Jealousy, Love, Fire, Romance, etc. So you see, there’s loads available for you here.
Character or Narrative Acts
So the first thing you need to decide here is what’s your story? What are you trying to say? You can call your act by the name of your character: eg Mrs No Overall is just simply Mrs No Overall and Heidi Bang Tidy’s naughty crossing patrol nemesis is simply Brenda (pic by Great Big Show Off).
You could encapsulate something about your act with a pun – Lilly Laudanum’s Victoria’s Secret, because queen Victoria hides a massive secret that’s revealed at the end of the act. Betty Blue Eyes’ award-winning Behind The Candle-A-Bra is a clever play on words which hints at the Liberace content and we know there’s a few acts with ‘sauce’ or ‘saucy’ in the title which can only have a double meaning – especially in Taffy BoJangles’ case, when she literally makes a special pour-over sauce. Clever puns stand out to a producer and – in general – make them laugh (in a good way) before they’ve even seen your act, so you are onto a good start.
What is a pun?
The dictionary definition of a pun is:
A pun could also be derived from a fairy tale if your act is based on say, Cinderella – a very naughty Sinderella, perhaps. Some of Lilly’s acts are The Lady Garden and Rude Britannia. You get the idea.
Describing Your Act In The Title
You can also do this – but think of it as a Twitter status – but using as less words as you can possibly can. Ernie Sparkles has an act called ‘Ernie the Fastest Milkman In The West’ which is basically just as it says! And one of our newer performers Eddie Kelly’s David Cameron-themed act is just called ‘An Apology’.
Description of The Act
Don’t forget when pushing acts producer’s way, to include a description of the act. Producers like ‘punchy copy’ as it cuts through a lot of descriptions of acts that are like: “The song is ‘Summer Time’ By Mungo Jerry and I am a flower and I get on the stage and basically peel a few petals off and then I find a bee and there’s a watering can pour at the end”. A more exciting way of saying all of that could be “It’s hot in the garden and our ‘Lily Of The Valley’ Lilly Laudanum is wilting petal by petal. Better get out that watering can because it’s hot, hot, hot!”. Just by making the act description a bit more interesting can peak a producer’s interest enough to click on that youtube link!
Describing the act for the compere or host
You might also like to think how you can make your act sound enticing to the ears of the audience. Remember they need to know why they are going to be watching you, rather than nipping off to the bar so having a punchy intro that sets the scene, rather than gives away the ending is crucial. Think of that ‘trailer voice’ you hear at cinemas. We’re not guaranteeing your host will have the same deep and theatrical tones, but the delivery of the detail, setting the scene (vital if we need to believe you are on some hot shore when in reality it’s snowing outside!) perhaps even some puns and leaving them on a cliffhanger for you to arrive on stage and on the edge of their seat for the ending is what you are aiming for. Be careful not to spill any details – eg if you are a Dorothy in Oz type act and your finale is a yellow brick merkin, you don’t really want to tell the audience “and the finale! A Stunning yellow brick merkin”, but a hint is good: “will she find that yellow brick road?”. Here’s a few more of Lilly Laudanum intros for examples of scene-setting and act description – without describing the act (you know what we mean!)
“You, the glamorous audience, have been brought here to pay for your wicked crimes – crimes that are punishable by a fate worse than DEATH! Be upstanding for the right dis-honourable judge Lilly Laudanum – all rise!” Lilly’s Trial and Error act
“Lizzie Borden took an Axe and gave her mother 40 whacks, when she saw what she had done she gave her father 41…” But is she guilty? See the evidence and you, the audience, must decide!” Lilly’s ‘A Burlesque Tragedy In two Axe’
One final example:
“No one likes an unruly bush and Lilly laudanum, for one, likes to keep her topiary trimmed and her shrubs finely scrubbed. Getting a bit green-fingered whilst making the historical hysterical, with the Lady Garden, it’s Lilly Laudanum (etc etc)” Lilly’s Lady Garden act.
Some Golden Rules in Naming:
- The name needs to make sense to the act – not some random name not connected to your act that you’ve used because it sounds fun
- The name needs to reflect the act – ie a serious toned act wouldn’t work with a saucy ‘Carry On’ style pun title
- The name can set the tone, mood or set the audience up for what is to come
- The title should be concise, and not a paragraph that literally describes all the act
- …And on that matter, the description of your act should be exciting, lively, tone-setting and if for an audience, it shouldn’t give away the ending
I’ve done all that, is there anything else?
Yes! Don’t forget to label the file name of your track as the act name you’ve chosen for it, alongside your performer name. And always refer to it as the act name, not the working title. Make sure it’s on everything to do with that act – which could be website, facebook, correspondence, CV and even pictures of the act. Producers, fellow performers, techs, hosts and audiences will be less confused if you refer to the act title rather than your working title “the pot dance”.
So you get the basic idea. Make your descriptions interesting, lively and fun. Make your intros scene setting or silly and name your acts clearly, concisely, cleverly so they stand out.