[Bards] Performing in court

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Thu Feb 22 07:42:02 PST 2007

Before court, you have sort of an audience.  You have people collecting in 
chairs where the Crown or Baron/ess will soon be performing, and it's a 
bigger audience than at most bardic circles or competitions.  But they 
haven't committed to listening yet, and they aren't there to listen to 
bards.  Right now (if you're the first bard called up) they are talking to 
their friends.

So why are they there?  Some of them want to see the show -- the pomp of 
court, the royal speeches, the people being elevated.  But a large 
percentage are only there to find out the news,  (The next time you're in 
court, turn and watch how many many are listening attentively to the name of 
the person and the name of the award, but aren't listening to anything 

So you have sort of an audience.  This means that you have to earn the right 
to their attention.

First and foremost, this means volume.  You are competing with conversation, 
and you can't win unless they hear what you're saying.  Within a minute, 
this problem should solve itself, and you can drop down to your usual bardic 
volume.  (If they're still mostly talking after a minute, get off stage 
quickly -- you don't have an audience.)

You're the warm-up act.  Your job is to get people feeling good, so they 
will be in a more receptive mood by the time court starts.

I find that this is no time for a tragedy or calm piece.  Either a funny 
piece or a raucous Ansteorran cheerleading piece is best.

Timing is a weird question.  Shorter pieces are better for purposes of 
holding an entertaining this audience, but somebody asked you up there 
specifically to fill the dead time.  So while your audience doesn't want 
your very longest pieces, your patrons don't want your very shortest pieces, 

Matching the event is always good.  At Namron Protectorate, tell any funny 
or inspiring story you have about Namron or Protectorate.  At Crown, tell 
about previous Crown tourneys or previous kings.

Finnacan's point about telling a joke at his own expense is good advice. 
You can't go wrong telling a joke at Finnacan's expense.

Pay attention to the crowd.  When they start talking to each other again, 
you should have finished thirty seconds ago.

But most important, HAVE FUN.  Fun is infectious, and that's the point of 
being a bard.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

More information about the Bards mailing list