Across a week of July, Winston Churchill Square played host to the annual Edmonton Street Performers Festival, a celebration to the buskers and the magicians who perform for change. Bystanders were treated to a series of talented performers from around the world, all for a small donation of choice. To celebrate the fools who took the chance to live their dreams, I’ve decided to showcase the 11 most entertaining performers at the festival.
11) CIRCUS HOCKEY
How more “Canadian” can a show be when it centres on hockey? Paz has a blast playing on the hockey tropes, from Stompin’ Tom’s “The Hockey Song” to the “interviews” (done by a reluctant audience member) ending with juggling hockey pucks and flaming hockey sticks.
10) AMANDA SYRYDA
Across the square, you can see a young woman strolling along, swinging around some colourful hula hoops. Donning colourful attire, Syryda engages kids with her perkiness. Plus, she pulls of some creative hula hoops tricks.
9) SILVER ELVIS
You must admire a man who’s willing to paint himself in silver and wear a silver leather jacket on a scorching summer day. So, I tip my hat to Peter Jarvis, who donned a silver Elvis wig and wardrobe, picked up a pink guitar and spun atop of round pillar in tune to Elvis songs.
There may be some debate about whether living statues count as performers. I never heard any debate, but I imagine it exists. Still, he must be melting under those thick clothes in hot weather. And to do that for 10 days in a row? The things you do for art sake.
8) THE PRAIRIE DOLLS
Now we take a trip down memory lane with these trio of doo-wop girls. Barbie Doll, Baby Doll and Voodoo pay homage to the girl group trios of the Supremes and the Ronnettes, often jump starting the evening variety show Troup De Jour. It brings on some nostalgia to hear them perform “Chapel of Love” and “Bye Bye Love.”
7) SHARON MAHONEY
Looking for some good clean Canadian fun? Don’t expect that from Sharon Mahoney. Donning a Canadian jumpsuit, this abrasive comedian delivers a hilariously un-PC performance. Go Canada!
Mahoney blends Joan River’s brash insults with Amy Schumer’s self-deprecating to parody the Canadian stereotype in a deliciously inappropriate manner. Go Canada! One minute, she’s finding everything offensive (“Sir, you had your hands in your pocket. I really find that offensive.”), the next, she’s having people take pictures of her “Rocky Mountains” aka her rump. Go Canada! She delivers some of the festivals’ funniest lines (“I believe in socialism, which means everybody’s gotta socialize with me.” Go Canada! It all ends with a fire juggling act. Go Canada!
6) MIKE WOOD
His act centres around him shooting a head of cabbage out of a catapult and then catching it on his spiked helmet. Though this is the main act, the real highlight of his shows is his little makeshift race.
At first, it seems like a regular race between two children from the audience, with one kid getting a loonie. But here’s the twist; it’s the loser who gets the loonie and the winner stays and races another kid. It’s hilarious to see Mike Wood wait for the winner to catch on to this rule, always stating “The game is always the same and it’s always fair.” It’s even more hilarious to watch the kids’ reaction. But then there were the two kids who kept ending in a tie game.
What really sells this performance is Mike Wood himself, who blends an everyman look with a charismatic ability to engage the audience. He is also very funny, especially when he describes one situation trying to get his catapult past airport security. Norko!
5) JAMES JORDAN
Watch this guy’s fingers fly. Never without his mini-table, Jordan performs the classic ball and cup trick with effortless grace. At first, he may be playing on a magic trick done to death, but he brings some twists to the routine, at one point pulling a giant ball out of a tiny cup.
That’s nothing compared to his card trick. It may seem like the typical trick of the magician try to guess the card. You don’t usually see magicians try to grab the card from a table full of mousetraps while blindfolded. If that wasn’t enough, he tries to grab it with his face. Ouch!
These tricks wouldn’t have sold as well without Jordan’s performance, who brings a smarminess to his showmanship.
4) MATT RICARDO
“Fast Hands. Smart Mouth. Nice Suit.”
This Englishman has certainly earned this slogan with one stunning main show. He already impresses catching a flying diablo from high in the air. Then he pushes it further by doing it after performing the classic pulling the classic table cloth trick. He then reverses the table cloth by putting the table back on. It must be seen to be believed.
3) KAMIKAZE FIREFLIES
This is the closest the festival got to a circus performer. Coming all the way from L.A., Rob Williams and Casey Martin has already impressed American audiences after their stint on America’s Got Talent. Now this dynamic duel brings their three-time record breaking show to the City of Champions, and they didn’t disappoint.
They deliver some impressive stunts, whether it’s Martin swinging on a hoop without drop a tray full of glasses or Williams juggling torches. Plus, they aren’t afraid to do a comedy routine with them dressing as a hotdog and a t-rex.
2) PANCHO LIBRE
All the way from Mexico comes this acrobatic maestro. To watch this man spin in a giant metal hoop is a sight to behold. But that pales in comparison to his finale, with him hanging atop a high pole. He pulls off some impressive feats throughout, thanks to his athletic grace and charm.
1) FRASER HOOPER
With a jig in his step and a suitcase full of props, this sad sack comedian comes all the way from New Zealand to steal the festival without ever saying a word.
He seems to parody the concept of the vaudeville performer. One running joke is the bring the same audience member on stage, have him/her bow then send him/her back to the audience. His engagement with the audience really shines when it involves kids, especially with a fishing kid. Forcing one kid to don a fish mask (kids always seem to wear it wrong), watching his reactions trying to give the kid cues on how to react is pure comedy gold.
What’s even more comedy gold is the boxing skit. With a few unlucky audience members, Hooper creates his own boxing match with string, boxing gloves, and a sound machine. It seems impossible for a boxing sketch to not be funny and this was no different.
 And many are sadly slow to catch on. At one point, Wood blew 14 dollars waiting for one to figure out the rules.