I've spent a lot of time in Disney's Hollywood Studios lately doing research on the Citizens of Hollywood, which are the characters that perform streetmosphere. It's been a very enjoyable experience for me (even if it has been typically hot and humid) and I with spending as much time as I have seeing the various acts, there's definitely some key concepts to understand when it comes to Streetmosphere. I've written previously to encourage those who have avoided streetmosphere to try it but this time I'm more interested in "disecting" the Citizens of Hollywood and give you some conclusions and observations I've made.
A real surprise for me was the timing of the shows. Previous to my research, I had the notion that these acts popped up throughout the day and each character worked on their own schedule. The reality is the acts come out all at once ususally just after a High School Musical show, which in the morning and early afternoon is at the bottom of the hour and in late afternoon that means at the top of the hour (Block Party Bash kind of messes the schedule up a bit). So what this means is each time of the hour that it's time for the Citizens of Hollywood to come out, all the acts are out there at once. I often found myself running between acts to see which one I really wanted to see. The good news is the acts seek out a shady spot around Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard or Vine Street (the area between Hollywood & Vine restaurant and Min and Bill's Dockside Diner). A while ago, the Citizens of Hollywood figured out that guests don't want to sweat to death watching their shows and neither do the Citizens (most of which are wearing heavy clothing to begin with). Keep in mind that there's usually a show or two on Hollywood Boulevard, another show or two on Sunset Boulevard and perhaps another show on Vine Street or somewhere else where shade exists.
Once you get an idea of the schedule, understanding the nature of the shows is important. First, there's always a chance you could be asked to be a volunteer. And by asked, I mean they'll just incorporate you into the story on the spot. It's part of what makes streetmosphere so much fun but if you'd rather watch and not be part of the show, don't be in the "front row" and certainly not smack dab middle of the character's attention. Standing to the left or right of the focus of the "show" usuallly allows you to still see it all while avoiding the line of fire of being picked. If you don't mind being picked (and I highly encourage you to try it out), then ignore what I just said and go straight for the middle of their attention area and try to be as close to the front as possible. What I've discovered is these actors, while incredibly talented at street theater, are also quite nice and aren't out to embarass you. Sure, they may make a joke or two at your expense but it's never to the point of public ridicule and quite often they save the best jokes for themselves and other Citizens of Hollywood. The bottom line is don't be scared and embrace it if you are chosen to "help out".
In terms of the types of shows, there are many and I've outlined the various types of shows elsewhere on this site, but I find that in the morning and early afternoon, the shows used are mostly of the "getting to know you" variety, where it's a great opportunity to get a sense of each Citizen's character. If you see a few shows during the day, it will really help for the end of the day when they have the Funniest Citizen in Hollywood show, which pits various Citizens of Hollywood against each other in a quickest wit competition. It's not really necessary to have seen the shows before, but I do think knowing the various character types beforehand lends itself to being more interesting come the finale.
As I mentioned, each Citizen of Hollywood is quite funny and talented at their craft, but there's definitely some that have stood out to me as being consistantly funny all around. These are the Citizens of Hollywood that I go out of my way to check out their shows because I know there's a good chance of laughing. First and foremost, I have to start with the man I've dubbed as the Godfather of Streetmosphere, Francis Floot. His schtick is pretty simple, country bumpkin comes to Hollywood to make it big, and there are other similar Citizens of Hollywood out there. What makes Francis stand apart from the rest is his quick wit and he uses it extensively. I've never met someone who can take the most mundane comments into something funny before and he is fantastic at it. Not only funny with what he says, but he has a great physical humor as well. Francis is not to be missed. Along the same line, Shelby Mayer is hillarious. As the resident rich mogul, he is great at guest interaction more than anything. He performs so well that you actually do believe he is who he claims to be. A personal favorite is when senior citizen guests check out his shows and he will claim they are famous (and often dead) Hollywood stars like Jimmy Stewart or Bob Hope. The fact is, Shelby is a show stopper. The other Citizen of Hollywood I wanted to point out is Jack Diamond. Besides being funny and talented, the man has some truely unbelievable magic acts that you have to see to believe. Like all the Citizens of Hollywood, his magic isn't just plain magic. He incorporates humor into his act, often before he does a trick, he'll do a quick look out for the police, mentioning he'd prefer not to go to jail....again. Take some time to see his solo acts because they are quite entertaining.
One thing I wanted to see was if it's possible to really dedicate a day at the Studios for streetmosphere. The answer is kind of. Because the acts all come out at one time and each set is 30 minutes long, there's consistantly 30 minutes per hour of no streetmosphere (not counting the time around Block Party Bash where the schedule gets a little skewed). Sitting around and waiting for the next show is boring so I'd suggest taking in attractions between shows as well as meals. Check out a show on Sunset Boulevard and then ride Tower of Terror or see an act on Vine Street and see Muppetvision. After the 1:30 show, you'll have a gap in the schedule as the 2:30 show is basically just entertaining the Block Party Bash crowd and the next show isn't until 4, so take time then for a late lunch or a few attractions. Definitely get back to Sunset Boulevard for the Funniest Citizen in Hollywood later that night (usually around 5 or so). Oh, and if it's raining, the rain location for the Citizens of Hollywood is in the Tower of Terror on-ride picture area (seriously).
Well, there you have it, a quick rundown of some observations from my time researching the Citizens of Hollywood. I've also compiled a Citizens of Hollywood Directory to check out to get a better idea of who everyone is. It's a work in progress but I'm proud of it and hope you'