The Tailgate Entertainer | Performers | Performance Business | Creatives | Artists | Talent Buyers

Tailgate Entertainer is a podcast about the fair industry and the exciting people involved in it. The goal of the show is to help those involved in the industry succeed by sharing years of collected wisdom. You will not find a more eclectic mix of people in the world than those that work at fairs. Their exciting journeys, lessons, and humorous anecdotes are woven together here to provide encouragement, education, and support for the industry.
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The Tailgate Entertainer | Performers | Performance Business | Creatives | Artists | Talent Buyers




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Dec 4, 2020

Kenny Ahern shares stories about his career as a clown, a little wisdom from his life and even some laundry tips!  

Nov 24, 2020

Complete creatives, master makers, the whole artistic package! Learn from the best of the best-Mango & Dango!

Nov 20, 2020

It's the little things a person does and the little things a person doesn't do that make all the difference when it comes to being successful in the fair industry.  

Nov 20, 2020

Kicking off season three of Tailgate Entertainer and what the exciting lineup looks like.  (NOTE:  All recordings were done pre-pandemic)

May 30, 2020

In this episode, twelve professionals in the fair industry talk about their experience of living through the destruction that Covid 19 has caused.  What has happened to our industry and what needs to happen to get things back on track.  Great stories, wisdom and insight.  

Sep 25, 2018

Creating a concrete platform in a saturated market is no easy task. In order to do so, you have to be innovative and original, two characteristics that perfectly describe Robert Smith. Robert Smith is a magician and creative content speaker who struggled to find his way into the fair industry until doing exactly the opposite of everyone else, staying inside the box. Robert Smith is most recognized for his fortune-telling act, which has come to be known as the Conjurer Fortune Machine. Check out this episode of Tailgate Entertainer with Alan Bruess and Eric Haines if you’re interested in learning how to adapt and expand your own creative career. 

Show Highlights:

  • Starting street magic
  • Recognizing the pivot point in a career
  • Figuring out how to live with a disease
  • The importance of reaching out
  • Getting buyers attention
  • Becoming the conjurer
  • Creating a unique way to perform in a saturated market
  • Trusting the audience
  • Organically developing an act
  • Explaining a nontraditional career to others
  • Training people in your profession
  • Expanding a personal act and avoiding stealing ideas
  • Only working jobs that fit your brand
  • Building relationships
  • Changing how you perceive no
  • The drive behind creating content and marketing
  • Using social media to provide value
  • Building equity with the community


Art To Market

All social media handles: @meetrobertsmith

Podcast: Fair Game

Meet Robert Smith

Robert Smith Presents

Sep 18, 2018

Finding your passion can be difficult especially if it isn’t a traditional path but Greg Frisbee always knew he wanted to perform. Overcoming his shyness and fear of failure, Greg took a leap of faith and has become an incredible juggler and comedian. He has performed in all 50 states, over 30 countries, and does over 300 shows a year. His show is fun, goofy, and creates a family-friendly environment for everyone to enjoy. Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer with Alan Bruess and Eric Haines to hear more about how Greg utilized obstacles to establish his career.

Show Highlights:

  • Taking the plunge as a full-time performer
  • Marketing to fairs
  • Breaking news to close family
  • The journey of establishing a show
  • Struggles with putting a show together
  • Trial and error
  • The importance of treating others with respect
  • How a performance can be a form of meditation
  • Being present in the moment
  • Struggling with being insecure as a performer
  • Alternative pursuits if performing fails
  • Creating healthy relationships with fair managers
  • Not taking work personally
  • Being in tune with the crowd and creating a magical atmosphere
  • Finding human connection through travel
  • Accepting people for who they are
  • Utilizing skills from worldly experiences
  • How performing effects those closest to you


Bring Your Art To Market

The Rubber Chicken Show

Frisbee Show

Sep 11, 2018

The fair industry has some jaw-dropping and mind baffling acts but some acts set the bar higher than others. Marco Landín and Heather Hyde de Landin are creative and talented performers. From costumes to technique, this power couple has raised the bar for all stilt walkers and performers. Their acts are exotic and bring a sense of newness through their full fire performances and stilt creatures. They have perfected the art of embodying whimsical characters and creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Join Alan Bruess and Eric Haines in this episode of Tailgate Entertainer to learn more about creating a magical world. 

Show Highlights:

  • Being introduced to variety entertainment 
  • Sharing the miracle of newness 
  • Bringing something new to the table 
  • Creating art to be proud of 
  • Being an influencer through personal art 
  • Creating opportunities for others 
  • Finding ways to speak without words 
  • Design techniques and creating unique shows 
  • Creating blueprints and refining details 
  • Finding balance 
  • How passion pushes you forward 
  • Building a bubble of wonder 


Dream City Vegas

Macro Landin

Art To Market

Sep 4, 2018

Alex Zerbe has been performing for more than 15 years. He is a master of physical comedy, juggling, and magic. Alex is known as “The Zaniac” which was an idea from his wife. Many love his high energy throughout his performances and his super kind soul, and intelligence. He is a two-time Guinness World Record holder who was voted Seattle's Funniest Prop Comic. He performs in fairs, schools and special events. He is a fantastic entertainer and loves his job as an entertainer.

More in this episode:

  • Physical issues that can be challenging in his performances in the future.
  • The First Fair that he worked at.
  • Lessons that he learned during his first fair job.
  • Advice he would give about working in the fair industry.
  • How has his marriage dealt with all the traveling associated with performing?
  • How much he loves his job and performing.
  • He would love to mentor and help other entertainers
  • Where he goes for mentoring and guidance?
  • When and how he began performing.
  • Some of his beats!

Resources Mentioned in the Show:

Art To Market

Tailgate Entertainer Podcast

1,001 Tips on Practicing, Perfecting and Performing Your Act: For Jugglers and other Variety Artists Entertainers by Daniel Holzman

Alex Zerbe

The Zaniac

Aug 28, 2018

For many performers, the circus has been a way of life for as long as they can remember. Ivan España is a fifth-generation circus performer and is currently creating and performing in shows with his wife Allison. They both have a heart and passion for the industry and dedicate a surplus of hard work and time to each and every show. Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer to hear more about their journey and their current production, The Great Mr. Swindles Peculiarity.

The Great Mr. Swindle’s Traveling Peculiarium and Drink-Ory Garden is an original production by Salto Entertainment of Englewood, an entertainment group with a decade of live family entertainment production experience. Salto Entertainment’s production and performance credits include the motorcycle madness of Moto Maniacs, the aerial antics and death-defying stunts of the steampunk-themed production FLIPPIN, and co-producers of CIRQUESA – Dream Quest, a journey of self-discovery as told through circus artistry. Salto Entertainment is owned and operated by Allison Blei and Ivan España, whose family was recently inducted to the Circus ‘Ring of Fame’ in Sarasota’s St. Armand’s circle marking their significant contributions to the art and culture of circus amongst many other incredible icons such as P.T. Barnum and The Ringling Bros.

Show Highlights:

  • Growing up in a family of entertainers
  • Acrobatics and the skywheel
  • Giving people memorable performances
  • Challenges with bringing an entire circus act to a fairground
  • Motivating factors
  • Creating shows you create
  • Transitioning from conventions to the fair
  • Word of mouth marketing
  • Individualism and putting in your entire heart
  • Fears and difficult circumstances
  • Tips for going the circus direction
  • Love for entertaining the audience

Resources Mentioned:

Mr. Swindle's Traveling Peculiarium

Aug 21, 2018

Building and creating a unique act is a major accomplishment but it is even more valuable when you get to perform with a close friend. Illusionist Adam The Great and Tyzen The Comedy Hypnotist, also known as the Show Bros™, are two close friends who have established a remarkable show together and continue to create innovative material.

Combining two great talents with amazing shows on their own, they have created an amazing new show, called The Show Bros™, which highlights the best of both shows. In this episode, we go behind the scenes and find out the origins of this synergistic show.  The unique thing about this show is that Tyzen and Adam actually perform together - this combination of talents is compelling entertainment! The show is still very new, but is already getting rave reviews and is destined to be one of the greats!

Show Highlights:

  • Making connections through the fair
  • Being a role model for children
  • Maintaining a friendship through working together
  • The challenges of marketing for a theatre
  • Issues behind the scenes - it’s not all roses!
  • Getting advice from close advisors
  • Fine tuning productions
  • Setting boundaries and legal parameters
  • Getting started in magic
  • Transitioning into a full-time fair career
  • Being innovative and coming up with new acts
  • Being patient
  • Having fun with your own work
  • Plagiarism within the industry
  • Learning to write originally
  • Performing your best for every crowd
  • Charging what you’re worth
  • Discovering careers outside of the entertainment industry

Resources Mentioned:

Pacific Animal Productions

Adam the Great


Aug 14, 2018

There is a surplus of talent, acts, and shows in the fair industry. Many of the performances have been around for hundreds of years, but some of them recently have sprung and become popular over the last few decades.

Tom Sailor has invented and innovated multiple aspects of the fair industry and currently works with Winter Set Concert Events. He has years of experience and insight on the fair industry that is unique to his creative perspective. Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer with your hosts, Alan Bruess and Eric Haines, if you’re interested in how to break through the industry and taking risks.

  • How life led Tom into the fair industry
  • Belly Bucking
  • The birth of male strippers
  • Women’s mud wrestling
  • Taking mud wrestling to fairs
  • Creating a bungee diving show
  • The biggest competition in the fair industry
  • What the industry is missing
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Areas that lack talent and room for opportunity
  • The importance of a personal relationship
  • Breaking through into the industry
  • Not comparing your act to others
  • Always putting on your best show


Art To Market

Aug 7, 2018

Anyone can be a performer, but only hard-working and dedicated individuals become a great performer. It takes many years and lots of practice to establish a name and create a timeless act, which is why not many people make it as a full-time entertainer. Todd Victor has been a full-time entertainer for over 30 years and has created beautiful stages to host various acts, he coaches entertainers, and has established a successful mentoring program to boost other performers. Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer with Alan Bruess and Eric Haines to see how you can bring your art to market and take the next steps to improve your performance. 


Show Highlights:

  • Moments that led up to being in the fair industry 
  • Giving advice to yourself in the past 
  • Taking care of yourself and being innovative 
  • Adjusting the show to fit where you’re at in life 
  • Reducing wear on your body 
  • What needs the fair-grounds can provide for performers
  • Pros and cons of working with your spouse
  • How unique makeup affects business 
  • Formula for traveling 
  • How to adapt shows to stay relevant 
  • Bringing art to a marketplace and making a living off it 
  • Taking classes for various skills 
  • Hiring advisors to direct and critique acts 
  • Practicing to fine tune skills 
  • Emphasizing being a great performer 
  • Finding the balance between work and home life 
  • Getting the most out of your time and making connections 
  • Working hard to maintain trust and make others shows successful 


Jul 31, 2018

The entertainment industry is full of unique and incredible people. There are so many innovative and remarkable acts and the people are equally as intricate. Many of these performers are simply doing what they love and also enjoy having the opportunity to bring a smile to others faces, and one of those people is Dennis Lee. Dennis is an overwhelmingly kind individual with a heart for making people happy. He is the founder of The Dennis Lee Show and continues to bring enticing acts to fairs across the country. Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer with Alan Bruess and Eric Haines to hear more about Dennis Lee’s story. 

Show Highlights:

  • Highlights of Dennis Lee’s life before the fair industry 
  • Feelings from the first time performing 
  • Changing the fair from a hobby to a job 
  • How traveling affects family life 
  • Making your show unique 
  • The importance of building a network 
  • Impacting people’s lives 
  • Getting kids involved and giving them the opportunity to shine 
  • Having the ability to make people smile and pull energy from within 
  • Influencers in the industry 
  • Making a sincere show 
  • What is missing in entertainment 



Jul 24, 2018

While the fair industry is continuously growing and adapting, and continues to evolve since the early days of live entertainment. Michelangelo Nock, owner of The Nerveless Nocks Inc., and his family have been innovating the industry since before 1850. 


Michelangelo Nock has a plethora of insight and knowledge about the industry, due to his unique experience growing up in a performing family. He comes from a family that has been performing in the circus and entertainment industry for more than 9 generations. Performing is in his DNA!

This interview is full of history, versatility, and insight on staying relevant in the circus industry. Live performance continues to evolve and the Nock family is evolving too!

Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer with your hosts, Alan Bruess and Eric Haines, to learn more about the impact the fair industry has made and how it has stayed current through generations. 

Show Highlights:

  • Pursuing the family business 
  • How the swing pole came about 
  • Roles being filled in the industry 
  • Being versatile and incorporating training 
  • Showing the audience entertainment they’ve never seen before 
  • Getting involved with other businesses 
  • Taking care of the grounds 
  • Being influenced by successful businessmen 
  • Being a team 
  • Respecting people’s ideas 
  • Staying current 
  • Being creative and working in different fairs 



The Odd and Offbeat Podcast 

Jul 17, 2018

Kristen Johnson and Kevin Ridgeway are interviewed on the show today by Elisa Hayes, who knows all too well about life-changing accidents. Talk about people with phenomenal character! Today’s guests are two of the greatest people you will ever meet, and their story is inspiring! Kevin and Kristen are entertainers in a show called Lady Houdini, which is a show featuring escape-type routines. Kristen is known as Lady Houdini, and Kevin emcees the show. They do between 270-300 shows per year, and because their show is so physical, the two train vigorously in order to maintain top physical shape. 


In January of 2016, Kristen and Kevin were in a horrible automobile accident. They had been stopped at a red light and proceeded when the light changed to green. A 17-year-old, texting while driving, blew through a red light and hit them on the driver’s side. It was at that moment their lives changed. Kristen says it was like the world stopped turning. Each of them sustained catastrophic injuries. 


More in this episode:


  • Kevin and Kristen share details about their life-changing accident.
  • Emotions run high because the two were taken to different hospitals.
  • Tremendous body trauma
  • Months of hospitalization and rehabilitation
  • Doubts and fear turn to determination
  • Kristen and Kevin describe their show and how/when their message shifted.
  • Back to work with an empowering message for others
  • Dedicating a show segment to speak about the dangers of distracted driving
  • Grateful for the generosity of others
  • Grateful to be able to continue to share their lives with each other.



Pacific Animal Productions, our sponsor/proceeds go to scholarship funding

Lady Houdini website

Lady Houdini’s Facebook page

Ridgeway and Johnson Entertainment 

Lady Houdini’s Instagram Page

Elisa’s podcast, Letters To My Daughter

Jul 10, 2018

Very rarely are people presented with the opportunity to be born into their career and spend their life learning all aspects of their trade. Fortunately, Courtny Conkle did; she is the youngest female CEO in California and at the Lake County Fair in Northern California and has acquired a plethora of knowledge throughout her years. 

Getting to learn different trades in the fair from a very young age has helped Courtny throughout her career and given her the insight to project her career forward. Courtny has been on both sides of the fair as a concessionaire as well as in management, so she really knows the fair from the ground up! Tune in to this episode of Tailgate Entertainer to hear all of the brilliant ideas Courtny has to share with your host and co-host, Alan Bruess and Eric Haines. 

Show Highlights:

  • Being born into the fair industry 
  • Long-term goals for the fair industry 
  • Contributing factors to becoming a fair manager 
  • Areas that need re-adjustment 
  • Building relationships in the community 
  • Showing what you can accomplish 
  • Eliminating old traditions 
  • Bringing in entertainment that fits different demographics 
  • Understanding the ripple effect  
  • The importance of user-generated contact 
  • Spending time advertising the right content 
  • Relationships with younger vs older business people 
  • Intertwining business with life 
  • How people respond to the carnival stigma 
  • Being able to empathize with all sides of the industry 
  • Having people to mentor you 
  • Internalizing what you’ve learned from others and how to apply it 
  • Being a mentor and guide to others 
  • How to suggest things to people that may help them 
  • Coming into the fair industry knowing the industry


This show is sponsored by Super Science Company! 


Jul 3, 2018

Not having a traditional career can make the balance between work and family difficult to juggle. In order to be successful in the Fair industry, you have to learn to balance your life while traveling, creating your audience, and still maintaining your personal life. Paul Isaak is a juggler and performer who has learned to not only juggle fire but learned to expertly juggle his career and his family.

This episode of Tailgate Entertainer reveals angles of the fair industry that have never been seen. Tune in with your hosts Alan Bruess and Eric Haines to see how entertainers manage their families, make connections and still pursue their passions. 


Show Highlights:

  • How the fair industry differs from other industries 
  • What performers think about on stage 
  • Learning how to dissolve the barrier between the performer and the audience 
  • What drives a performer to create their own act 
  • Finding a community who understands your passions 
  • Making connections and maintaining relationships with a traveling career 
  • Balancing business and family 
  • Taking your family on the road 
  • Experiences like no other industry




Jul 3, 2018

We’re back with Season 2! It’s an entirely new season, so Alan here to catch you up on everything since Season 1 ended and also the exciting things in store for Season 2. In this first episode of Season 2, you also get introduced to a co-host, who is no stranger to Tailgate Entertainer fans!


The fair industry is an adventurous occupation that few people have insight into, but the Tailgate Entertainer brings you interviews with some of the most reputable performers in the Fair Industry. From acrobats to the youngest manager in the industry, to the inventor of women’s mud wrestling, the hosts Alan Bruess and Eric Haines will take you on a journey to explore every aspect of the fair industry. Tune into this episode of Tailgate Entertainer to see what this season has in store for you. 


Show Highlights:


  • What Allen has been working on 
  • Change in work 
  • Who is coming in the next season 
  • Shift and adapt 
  • Couples, youngest manager in the fair industry, and the inventor of women’s mud wrestling 
  • Sponsors 
  • Creating Scholarships 




Eric’s Previous Episode

Suggest ideas on where scholarships go: 

Mar 28, 2017

Today's episode is an opportunity to have a few questions answered about the show, take a peek behind the scenes a little, and a chance for me to give some final thoughts about the importance of our industry.  A huge THANK YOU to all of the guests and listeners that have been a part of the adventure.  

  • Reasons for producing the show.
  • How the show is doing, how has it done?
  • Is the show going to continue?
  • Did I make any money podcasting?
  • Any regrets producing the show?
  • Biggest lesson learned producing the show.
  • Most frustrating element.  
  • Biggest mistake I made producing the show. 
  • Why the fair industry is so important.  
Mar 21, 2017

 In this episode: Mat Wells - son of  Kim & Alan Barr

Nathen Smith - son of Robert & Sara Smith

Sarah Hays - daughter of  Steve & Elisa Hays

Hayden Newman - daughter of Mike & Ryann Newman

Chase Barton - son of  Tammy & Bryan Barton

Brayden Bruess - son of  Alan & Renee Bruess


Mar 14, 2017

You could operate a fair without a carnival, it might be less fun, but it is achievable. You could probably also run a fair without entertainment, but it isn’t advised. What you couldn’t host a fair without, is food vendors. Food vendors are the anchor of the fair. They are also some of the hardest working people, with a job that doesn’t guarantee a paycheck. For them, the risk is worth the reward. Tune in to today’s fast, food show to hear two of the fair’s best, Kim Barr and Daryl Whicheloe. Order’s up!

 Kim & Alan Barr (Pacific Crest Concessions)

Kim & Alan Barr (Pacific Crest Concessions)


  • Investing in the food industry
  • How has the industry changed in the last 30 years
  • The amount of off time food vendors get
  • Working and traveling
  • Being invited back to the same fairs
  • The importance of your presentation and operating
  • Connections made with fair family
  • Set up time
  • Purpose of NICA
  • Uniting concessioners and giving them a voice in their industry
  • Fair commission
  • Potential in the concession industry that people aren’t looking into
  • The types of people in this industry
Mar 7, 2017

Pain and suffering are always topics pushed under the rug, but what people have failed to inform you is, oblivion is not bliss. Today we are going to sweep it all out from under the rug and hit the topics that are, more often than not, avoided. Feelings of self-worth, effects of tragic accidents, pride, the ICU, all topics that lack a sense of hope, but your guest, Elisa Hays, will hopefully leave you with an appreciation for life and hope in the virtue of humanity. Tune in with your host, Alan Bruess, for a taste of this bitter-sweet message. 


  • Why people want to talk about their hurt 
  • Defining your worth 
  • Dehumanizing yourself in the ICU 
  • ICU psychosis 
  • Understanding and experiencing pain 
  • Acknowledging pain instead of belittling it 
  • Existing in a fundamental foundational level 
  • The way pain changes the views of everyone around you 
  • Finding reasons to laugh when bad things occur 
  • How accidents change relationships 
  • Reflecting on memories that impacted Elisa 
  • How horrific accidents change your motivation 
  • Living with a handicap 
  • The disadvantages of living in a wheelchair 
  • How accidents consume your life 
  • The ripple effect of doing good for people

Facebook: Elisa Hays 


Feb 28, 2017

Is this generation really evolving? Are we different than other generations due to technology? Or are we simply coming full circle with the advancements previous generations have put in place for us? After years of advancements, we are finally beginning to see the fruits of the internet. But, have these advancements brought us closer together? Or magnified our differences? Tune in while Kady Porterfield answers a few of these questions, and more, with your host, Alan Bruess.

 Today, Alan and Kady Porterfield also discuss:

  • How Kady became the head of the agriculture department and her history in the industry
  • How to get millennials involved, engaged, and keep them there
  • How this generation has grown up more diverse and open than any other generation
  • The extreme advertisement of everyone being entitled or capable
  • The importance of learning and asking questions
  • The positive & negative effects of phones and social media
  • Tips for older generations to relate and use to help the millennial generation
  • The viability of the fair industry
  • How to engage through social media
  • Showcasing what people want to see but keeping the traditions
  • The value and educational resources tied to the fair
  • Figuring out how to bring urban kids or schools in general involved
  • The importance of the fair
  • Showcasing the culture of the community
Feb 21, 2017

Time, money, travel, and experiences are all a few things we have in common. In the fair industry, it takes a lot of investment in all of the following. But, a few special things about our guest today is his constant great spirits, his classy behavior, enthusiasm in his work, his amazing story, and the magic he puts into his work.

Welcome balloon artist, Dennis Forel, with your tailgate entertainer, Alan Bruess.


Today, Alan and Dennis Forel also discuss:

  • The inspiration that led to his career
  • Where his career led with persistence
  • Opportunities for balloon artists
  • Putting together an original act
  • Being rotated between people you work for
  • Upholding your act and keeping your enthusiasm
  • The importance of being versatile
  • People can tell when you’re not being authentic
  • You have to be diverse and unpredictable but reliable
  • Why you should always go the extra mile
  • Being part of the outreach you work for
  • The difficulties of having a family while being in the fair
  • Being honest about your circumstances with your employers
  • Getting the courage to take the next step
  • Stumbling into your career
  • Mistakes in the business
  • The vitality of building relationships
  • Showing your commitment
  • If you don’t match the theme, you won’t be hired and look up Kevin Ridgeway

Phone number: 310-218-2629

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