Busking just ain't the way it used to be, if the last busker I walked out on is at all representative.
This guy from Noo York spent about 20 minutes building up the audience - asking us to make loud, appreciative noises to attract passers-by, describing in mildly comedic terms what he was going to do ( he was an escape artist apparently), selecting volunteers to be the butts of his so-so jokes. Then I got bored and tired of standing around waiting, and moved on. I bet this guy only had one trick in his whole act. Okay, he did do one magic trick, but it was so unremarkable I nearly forgot about it.
Now, in my day, as a veteran busker might say, a busker would put his hat on the pavement and perform one trick after another, whether it be pulling scarves out of a lady's bra or pulling a balloon over his head. They didn't try to pull in an audience by asking a couple of bystanders to pretend they were having a good time; they did it by giving the bystanders a good time. Now that's the kind of busker I'd throw my coins at.
But what I saw in the weekend reminded me of that scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks where Mr Brown the street conjuror sings "It really doesn't matter what I do, what I do, as long as I do it...with a flair" at his stoney-faced audience. Yeah, style over substance - it's really over-rated.