By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
Some of the best entertainment for children is fun for adults, too. Think Looney Tunes, J.P. Patches, “Up” or “Toy Story.”
Everett entertainer Eric Haines is a master of multi-generational comedy and you can see him in action at the Evergreen State Fair through Labor Day.
Haines, 49, is his own circus ringmaster. He’s a one-man band, a singer-songwriter, a stilt walker, juggler and unicycle rider, a puppeteer and, yes, an award-winning comedian. Outside of the fair season, you can find Haines in the region’s comedy clubs, at school assemblies, corporate workshops and children’s theaters.
During this weekend, Haines will be walking through the fairgrounds entertaining as he goes. He also has a scheduled stand-up gig at 11 a.m. Sunday on the fair’s Family Stage.
His 50-pound band gear, strapped to his vest and tied to his saddle shoes, includes a drum, horns, bells, whistles and the ever-crucial kazoo. He strums the banjo in a Dixieland style, whistles and gets his audience to add some sound effects, such as screams and clapping.
Raised by a Mary Kay cosmetics consultant and a tax attorney, Haines said his job as an entertainer is his calling. This is his day job.
He once opened for comedian Weird Al Yankovic, who told Haines, “You da bomb.”
On Senior Citizen Day at the fair on Monday, Haines dripped with sweat as he danced around making music for the kids in the audience and their grandparents.
A group of 10 children and one grandma accompanied him on one song. The kids tapped clacking spoons on their knees and shook maracas while the granny played a washboard rigged with a cow bell.
“More cow bell,” Haines shouted.
As he prepared to get on his 6-foot-tall unicycle, Haines called two men, both good sports, up to the stage to help out.
Laura Clarke of Monroe laughed out loud when Haines asked her boyfriend, Stephen Cole, to put on a hat with steer horns and a cow apron, complete with udder.
Cole and the other guy helped Haines onto his ride and then ran across the stage a few times with the entertainer in pursuit.
“That was a blast,” Cole said when he took his seat back in the audience. “Haines is a funny guy.”
Next to be picked on was a grandmother in the front row, who played along with Haines’ homemade marionette, a monkey who told Haines that he is not a very good ventriloquist. The monkey hugged the grandma, did a scene from the “Wizard of Oz” and settled back onstage to stare at the elderly woman, who laughed nervously.
Haines is a good-looking guy who’s not afraid to be goofy. A performing arts graduate of the University of Montana, he’s married to a tolerant woman. Their 14-year-old twins were age 7 before they realized Dad didn’t have a normal job, Haines said.
After his show on Monday, Haines walked back to his van to get a fresh shirt before roving the grounds as the one-man band.
“I like performing at the fairs around the region because I can get home at night. I’ll be in Puyallup next week,” Haines said. “Fair audiences are always a good mix of kids and adults, the best kind of audience.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @galefiege.
More fair ahead
The Evergreen State Fair continues through Labor Day at the fairgrounds in Monroe. For details and a schedule of events go to www.evergreenfair.org.