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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Jun 28, 2016

Welcome! My guest today is Michael Hilby, known as “Hilby, the Skinny German Juggling Boy.” He is a really great performer who was born in Germany and became a social worker. Soon he transitioned to becoming a street performer who traveled the world. He now lives in Ithaca, NY with his wife and kids. His act is in high demand and is one of the best comedy acts to ever perform. 

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Hilby learned to juggle at age 23 in India.
  • He traveled with his wife to Hong Kong and Japan, but then settled in NY, where her family lived.
  • For five years, he flew back to Japan once a year for six weeks to be a street performer.
  • This was his full-time income for the entire five years!
  • He learned to speak Japanese to help with his performance.
  • He soon stayed in the US and worked at Busch Gardens in VA for six months each year and transitioned to performing in English.
  • On his one day off from Busch Gardens, he would go work as a street performer and was amazed at the money.
  • Soon he left the amusement park and began full-time as a street performer.
  • Why a tagline for your name is important
  • He learned to connect and engage with people.
  • He has no regrets for leaving his social work career. “Why? What’s the point?”
  • Hilby shares the uniqueness of this kind of performing and some of his venues.
  • The worst gig ever was a college stint that was barely promoted and scarcely attended.
  • The unexpected challenges make you a seasoned performer.
  • Hilby has performed in 68 countries!
  • Hilby loves to see performers who are committed and have a spark for what they do.
  • His biggest fear is the age and physical limitations that will inevitably come to him.
  • For young performers: practice your act, do all the work you can (NOTHING should be beneath you!), and take workshops.
  • Performing can be a GREAT income!
  • How learning to speak Japanese helped his performance there
  • Hilby speaks Spanish, German, Japanese, and English—and will become a US citizen soon!
  • Differences and surprises when he first came to the US
  • Hilby still does cruise ship shows for German passengers.
  • The hardest part of street performing is convincing them that it’s a job you are CHOOSING to do!
  • “When you are training to be a great performer, the first thousand shows don’t really count.”
  • Find him at


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