Easy Read | 3-5 minutes
There’s certain people in the world that just shine bright. From the moment you meet them (and sometimes it’s only for a few minutes) you know they hold a special something within them. Dani Cabs is one of those people and after hearing him speak a few years ago at Creative Mornings Brisbane, his words about the 'importance of play' stuck with me, so I wanted to talk with him further… and introduce you all to him too ❤️
Firstly, can you please tell the Boom community a little about yourself?
I'm Dani Cabs, a professional clown, theatre maker, actor, emcee and photographer. I found the arts in my late twenties after trying many different career paths, professional sports, fitness, retail, tourism to name a few. Something that I found was always consistent within those careers was my ability to connect with people, mainly by being open and playful. I believe we all have the capacity to get along in some way, we just have forgotten how because we have been told to stop playing with each other as we reach adulthood.....forgetting that it's through play that we learn and evolve.
You’re a comedian, actor, photographer and an extremely creative person in the performance art sector… What originally inspired you to get into the field of performance?
I was practicing as a photographic artist around 2008 - 2014, playing with how the camera constructs identities. I kept on using myself in front of the lens, creating different, in different situations (The Artist, Performer, Teacher). Receiving some positive feedback from audiences, increased my confidence in purposefully performing for an audience. That and a few synchronistic situations lead me to discover live theatrical clowning in 2014/15. Once I learnt about Clowning as an art form I realised I had been The Clown my whole life and that The Clown was a crucial part of society.
Is there a particular performer you really admire the work of?
There are heaps of performers I admire. Some peers on the festival circuit that keep me on my toes, Barnie Duncan, Josh Glanc, Zack Zucker, Tom Walker, Josh Ladgrove to name a few. They are all excellent clowns making content at prolific levels. The Aunty Donna boys are on another level with their own show on Netflix. Dr Brown (whom I've trained under) is a genius, he directed Natalie Palamides' show on Netflix called Nate, a must watch for all. Lucy Hopkins and Spencer Jones from the UK are also masters in clowning, able to get audiences to do whatever they want with complete innocence. And finally the late George Carl - do yourself a favour and watch a youtube clip of him do his thing back in the 80's. Wow!
I assume one day you made the decision to take the plunge from “your day job” into (full time) performance and art. What inspired you to do this?
I was lecturing in a diploma of photography at a private college in Brisbane for four years while I made the transition to performance. I had a taste of doing the odd show and MC-ing at a couple of small festivals but because of being stuck to our trimester schedule at the college I could never go on a proper tour. I felt that to really learn the craft I had to throw myself into it fully, so I saved a little money, quit my job and became a carnie touring two different shows over a couple of years around Australia. I don't think there was a decision to make, the decision made itself, I just had to go along for the ride.
I’ve seen you perform as a few different characters over the years, could you please tell us a little about the process you go through of firstly coming up with the idea of a new character, and then executing their personality and a show?
The characters usually are born from seeing absurd situations in everyday life, and as a generic white man, not being able to have a voice in those situations. So I think to myself, "who needs to be heard here?" and I create a character to fit that. They are always an extension of me, who I would be in those situations, if things were just a little bit different. If I see old people needing a voice I turn into Maria, if the Westy Bogan is copping crap I become "Duido, like Guido but with a D". Having heard the stories of female partners and family members that work in the business/corporate sector made me create "Dee" who doesn't take sexual harassment in the workplace lightly. By adapting my character for these different situations I'm able to comment vehemently about issues within them - always playfully of course. Executing them in shows is just about following their values, with their specific character framework (accent, voice, costume), and since they are a part of me they all share my values of play, connection, compassion, community and love.