I’m a week late, but that’s what happens when you are currently living in a country that doesn't have a national rodent themed holiday. That said, Groundhog Day is a treasured day in my family. The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters—known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club—on the idea. (Source) Maybe this holiday caught on because of man’s yearning to accurately predicted the future. As of 2016, Punxsutawney Phil has made 120 predictions, with an early spring (no shadow) predicted 18 times (15.0%). This states that as of 2016 the predictions have proven correct 39% of the time. (Source). So you are essentially getting the same odds with Phil as you are Roulette.
But, I am more so referring to the 1993 film Groundhog Day directed by Harold Ramis. The concept of reliving the same day over and over is essentially how I describe being a full time variety performer. Often we are performing the same bits day after day. Reliving the same moments, in what often feels like an infinite time loop.
At first this appears daunting, and mind numbing, but like Bill Murray’s character discovers, one can learn to take full advantage of knowing how a moment will play out. And because of this superpower, one can now look for the moments within the moments.
As I spend my time here at The House of Magic in Macau, performing up to eight shows a day, I have begun to explore said moments in order to keep each show fresh. This is obviously an easier task with more lively audiences, but can be done regardless of audience energy.
Once you have the beats of your show down solid, you can then look for new beats to place in the middle of those beats, to make the piece stronger. Or, you can remove a beat here or there in order to discover how that effects the over all presentation of the piece, or the show entirely.
But one gift that is much different than the idea of the Groundhog Day film, is the fact that audiences will always be different. They may react similarly, but will never be identical. This is a gift in itself. This keeps the show fresh, even if you have done a particular piece a thousand times.
I try to embrace the fact that I get to relive the same moments over and over. That is a gift on its own. Nothing in this world is perfect, but for a couple times a night, I get to strive for it.