VICKY MEETS… Dan ‘The Hat’ Funnell, juggler and entertainer

Dan
Dan

Claiming to have been juggling and showing off since his teens, ‘keeping all his balls in the air’ has taken Dan all over the world.

From performing on board the QE2 to entertaining the rich and famous at A-list parties in Barbados, he’s played stages in Berlin, Qatar, Dubai and Kuwait and also at numerous International Street Theatre festivals.

“Last year I performed at the International busking Festival in Linz, Austria, making the cut out of seven-hundred applicants,” he told me, adding that he also squeezed in a mini tour of Festivals in New South Wales and on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Closer to home he is a regular fixture at established cabaret spots and at some of the nation’s favourite festivals, including Glastonbury.

“I live in Hunston now, but I grew up in Devon and Cornwall. A friend’s older brother was a performer and I was inspired to buy a few props and start teaching myself to juggle. I am entirely self-taught, although four or five generations ago my great, great, great grandmother ran away to join the circus, so maybe some of that blood has trickled down. I have been performing professionally for fifteen years now, but anybody can learn to juggle. If you don’t have great coordination then juggling can improve it. I could teach most people,” he said.

Adding to his performance skills over the years, Dan admitted that making people laugh is now his main objective.

“My stage character is quite cheeky and my act incorporates juggling, banter and stunts. It’s ridiculous and includes catching cabbages and melons on my head,” he chuckled.

And although there are lots of family-friendly festivals in the UK now, Dan thinks that we Brits don’t embrace street entertainment as enthusiastically as our continental neighbours.

“In the UK, unless you’re somewhere like Covent Garden, you get looked at as if you don’t have anything of value to offer. In other parts of the world people get really involved and are really appreciative of street art. I’ve applied for a place at this year’s world busking festival in New Zealand and this brings thousands of people to the country,” he said, agreeing that a busking festival in a pedestrianised city like Chichester could generate significant footfall.

Delighted that there has been a resurgence of traditional family entertainment in recent years, Dan confessed that the ultimate dream would be to buy a large tented performance space, complete with bar, and to create a touring cabaret venue.

“I also create bespoke performances and workshops for the corporate market and teach circus skills,” he said immediately finding himself booked to give me lessons in a long-held ambition to try my hand at fire eating.

And while being in almost constant demand makes life busy, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “My friends sit behind desks and they don’t understand how I get paid for playing. I do feel very blessed.”

For more information visit: http://www.danthehat.co.uk

For stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2

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