David Darwin began his career in entertainment when he was nine years old.
“I started walking around my neighborhood selling jokes door-to-door, trying to make people laugh until they gave me money,” Darwin said.
In high school, Darwin started juggling part-time, which slowly evolved into a full-time hobby in college when he decided to dabble in carnival acts.
“A friend taught me how to eat fire, then I learned how to swallow a sword,” Darwin said.
Darwin has appeared on America’s Got Talent, showcasing his Carnival Act, and now travels and performs for a living.
“There is no preparation anymore,” he said. “This is my every day.”
Darwin has lived in the Philadelphia area for 14 years but will be performing locally for the first time with Five Minute Follies. The theater company stages five-minute variety acts and
wanted Darwin to join their troupe.
“A lot of people I respect told me about Five Minute Follies, so I eventually got back to them and told them I was so in,” Darwin said.
“His act is the very definition of the Five Minute Follies” Michael Broussard, the founder of Five Minute Follies, said.
Broussard created Five Minute Follies because he was frustrated with the fact that variety shows like Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” and the Carol Burnett Show no longer existed.
“I missed tuning in every week to see a wide variety of entertainers all under one banner,” Broussard said. “It was time to bring back TV variety.”
“I literally woke up in bed one night with the phrase ‘Five Minute Follies’ ringing out in my brain,” Broussard said. “And the title of the show determined the format: no act performs longer than five minutes.”
Broussard brought the show to the public in May 2010 and now he brings Darwin to his stage Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. at the Adrienne Theatre on Sansom Street.
Darwin is one of the many talents in the troop – the show includes hoop dancer Jenny Hill, pop culture comedianCraig Liggeons, Flamenco dancer Carol Basilio and singer Sarah Braverman, among others.
With the performance drawing nearer, Liggeons said performers are becoming anxious.
“I am anxious about it for different reasons,” he said. “First, because [Darwin] from ‘America’s Got Talent’ is probably the biggest performer, as far as popularity goes, we’ve ever had on the Follies.”
“Also, I am performing with my 12-year-old nephew,” Liggeons added. “I’ve never worked with a family member before nor have I ever worked with someone whose diaper I’ve changed.”
Members of Five Minute Follies aims to maintain the same goal: to present a rapid-fire show that can reach a wide variety of audience members.
Hoop dancer, Hill, has been a part of Five Minute Follies for three years. She said she appreciates the audience the show generates.
“Anyone who shuts off their TV, mutes their cell phones and sits down to an afternoon or evening of live theater will not be disappointed,” Hill said.
For Darwin, it allows them to perform so close to home.
“It’s nice to perform in Philly because it’s such a rare thing for me to be so close, but it’s exciting,” Darwin said.
Five Minute Follies will produce their first Christmas show this year on Dec 14, again at the Adrienne, and plan to continuously broaden their variety acts.
“If you don’t like what’s onstage now, there will be something else on stage long before you decide to start throwing tomatoes” Broussard said.
Stephanie Rocha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org