Building Your Balloon Show

Be an Original!

by Smarty Pants

In 1962, Sam Walton owned an obscure chain of discount stores in rural Arkansas. By the time of his death in 1992, Walton had transformed a handful of country stores into the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.


Walton’s success can be boiled down to one key factor – originality. Instead of working through middlemen distributors, Walton went straight to the manufacturers for the best prices. Decades before his competitors, Walton used computers to track inventory. He offered his employees stock options at a discount rate, giving his workers a financial stake in the company’s success.

While Walton’s winning ideas bolstered Wal-Mart’s success, his failures – and there were quite a few – cost Wal-Mart millions. Walton’s focus on innovation seemingly had one glaring flaw – it allowed his competitors to copy only Walton’s good ideas, while letting Walton shoulder the entire financial hit for the flops.

Walton’s biographer inquired about how Wal-Mart dealt with their competitors stealing only Walton’s best and leaving the rest.

Walton replied, “I don’t lose any sleep worrying about my competitors. I can innovate faster than they can imitate. They’ll always be one step behind.”

Keep Walton’s words of wisdom in mind when you’re building your own balloon show. I started wearing black horned rim glasses and ’70s era wide ties nearly twelve years ago – when it was a lot more geek and a lot less “geek-chic.” Sure, you could perform your balloon show clad in a retro style – you can even buy my style of glasses and clothes on ebay – but that’s not really a nifty idea. Develop your own original innovations – and stay one step ahead of the imitations!

Speaking of true originals, I recently had the opportunity to see Nick “The Balloonatic” Rotondo perform his “Balloons 101” stage show at the Florida Superjam. Nick regularly presents his show at New York City area schools & libraries, covering history, science, math, art and safety all under the umbrella of one fantastic balloon show. It was a perfect example of a performer using the classic show formula – Warmup, Opener, Middle, and Big Finale – as a framework to create a completely unique production.

Nick the Balloonatic

Nick’s show starts with a textbook warmup – “a physical activity that unites the audience and focuses their attention on the upcoming presentation.” Sounds like a fancy pants description of what in reality, was Nick simply leading a hilarious audience clap-along to enjoyable music.

After capturing our full attention, Nick got right to Balloon 101’s main attraction – the history of balloons! For the next thirty minutes, Nick engaged the audience with a lively overview of balloon twisting history, sprinkling in jokes, audience interactions, character bits and lots of pre-made balloons that kept the show moving at a brisk pace. Nick revealed that he did extensive research on balloon twisting history when first putting the show together three years ago. In a school market that demands educational value in your show – that’s a must!

The show never dragged – in Nick’s opinion, ” It’s better to do a powerful half hour show then to do an hour show that’s boring.” I agree – leave them wanting more! Nick also kept the audience focused by giving away balloons during the show – but only to those quick enough to correctly answer Nick’s quiz questions during the show – and raise their hand first!

Nick ends his show with a stage full of balloons and a room full of happy audience members. He presents a professional, well-rehearsed show packed with personality, well-crafted balloons and most importantly, a completely original character that no other twister could duplicate.

Nick and Friends

Nick’s final piece of advice about building your own balloon show – “Go with the flow of your show, and be ready for anything – you never know what the audience will do. And always have fun!”

Learn more about Nick “The Balloonatic” at his website,

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