Cast your minds back to my La Soiree visit….here….I described Bret Pfister’s performance like so…
The perfect tribute to one of my favourite songs – Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die – was Bret Pfister‘s aerial hoop routine. Loving his unusual tattoos, his stunning shapes made you forget about the show’s silliness and grounded appreciation for ballet in mid-air. It’s always a honour to see a masculine form express such emotional torture.
Well, I interviewed this man in the Spiegeltent’s sky. No Emmas were harmed in the making of this interview.
How did you discover your talent?
I don’t think I discovered my talent so much as ‘cultivated’ it. I started learning circus quite early, eight years old, and I did not have an immediate talent for it.
Any embarrassing situations or malfunctions on stage?
The most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done is fall off the hoop. Luckily I’ve only done this once when I was trying to perform while really ill. I’ve ripped a couple of costumes while onstage, shirts and trousers, but I think that’s more bad-ass than embarrassing.
What’s your back up plan if something goes wrong?
Have you ever self-doubted your performance?
Every day, multiple times a day. I think if you aren’t self-doubting, then the act is probably not improving. I question my decisions constantly.
Does the applause/cheers help or distract your performance?
Applause entirely helps the performance. The only reason I’m up there doing what I do is for the audience, so to be reminded they’re enjoying it is the best inspiration to do a great job.
When on stage, what helps you to ground your focus and concentrate?
When I’m onstage, I have no idea where my focus is, and that’s ok. I just let it go. There’s an interesting thing that happens when you perform such a short act (in my case about five and a half minutes), and that’s; when it starts, it’s already over. In a sense, as soon as the music starts, it’s just a very specific and set chain of events until you’re walking off stage again. That’s my perception of each show at least. Sometimes I’m very focused on what my body is doing, while other times I’m looking at the shoes people in the front row are wearing, or wondering if I have any food leftover backstage from dinner.
What do you do during the interval – practice? Chill? Mingle with the audience at the bar?
In this run of shows, my act falls towards the beginning of the second half, so the interval is warm up time! I like to warm up last thing directly before my act, and that starts about fifteen or twenty minutes before walking on stage.
If you’re having a ‘bad day’, how do you make sure the negativity doesn’t leak into your performance?
If I have a bad day, the negativity MAKES my performance. I put all the emotion I’m carrying with me on stage.
If you could collaborate with one of your fellow cast members on stage, who would it be and what would be the title of your act?
I would do an act with Asher and we would call it, “Lanky Boys Are Bad at Lifting Stuff”. It would be about seven minutes of the two of us trying to move a box and then complaining about it, before asking stage-management to take it out of the show.
What do you do after the show – sleep? Drink? Eat? Rave?
A healthy combination of drink and rave.
If you felt a part of your act or the stage was ‘dangerous’, would you still go ahead?
In a sense, there’s a danger to doing the act, period. However, if there was new danger that can’t be ‘controlled’ through training or practice for example, then no, I would not go ahead. What’s to be gained?
Have you ever dared to be spontaneous during your performance?
Only marginally, I’m not really a funny guy on stage, so spontaneity can look extremely out of place in my act.
Do you feel the show’s themes of sexuality and comedy overshadow your ‘serious’ skill/talent?
Not in the slightest. I think what’s really special about our show is the variety mix. I think if every single act in the show were laugh out loud funny, then an audience would get tired of it, and vice versa. Those clowns WISH they had the balls to try to hold down a serious act in this show.
What’s been your greatest struggle and achievement this year?
My greatest struggle has been growing my hair out. Just thought I’d give it a go. It was so much more work than I was expecting. My greatest achievement is attempting comedy on stage for the first time in a small tent in Glastonbury and receiving a standing ovation for it
Catch Bret in action with his fellow cast mates in La Soiree. Ends on 17 January 2016, book here