Baker brings comedy, stunts to Delaware State Fair

Matt Baker performs with a Chinese yo-yo on the Plaza at the Delaware State Fair. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON — The jokes were good even if they flew way over some heads on a really hot day.

The opening audience of 10 grew to maybe 25 by the end of the show at the Delaware State Fair Thursday.

Matt Baker pulled off all his stunts, tricks and juggles, mostly on the first try.

The Seattle, Washington-based entertainer tried hard to land the one-liners, but met with some stonefaced responses and even a couple walkaways.

Thank goodness the table of four New Yorkers in the front roared nearly nonstop at almost all the quips.

“He was good,” said Heather Marko of Saratoga after the chuckles subsided.

Then there was the kid from Middletown in the back who gamely traded comebacks during the 30-minute show.

“I think (the show) was more than I expected, especially with all the tricks,” said Middletown High rising junior John Murdaugh with a nod and a smile.

Piping up afterward, his mother Jean Murdaugh said, “I like his wit. He had a dry sense of humor.

“I thought he was pretty good.

It was the first couple hours on th e opening day of the fair, 95 degrees and humid, and not a breeze in the vicinity.

For a half hour in the Plaza area, Mr. Baker kept up that act while practically willing the crowd into laughter and applause.

The non-participants risked good-natured barbs that highlighted their clear lack of interest in front of everyone else.

“Have you guys ever been in an audience before?” he asked at one point.

Continuing his schtick with a smile, Mr. Baker lamented “I feel like my jokes are just an opening act for silence … nice.”

Right before the injury-defying final stunt – dropping a bowling ball onto his forehead and balancing it, the funnyman questioned his own sanity.

“I’m risking my life for people who don’t care,” he pointed out. “After this show I’m going to fire my agent.”

Coming out swinging to start the act at 2 p.m., Mr. Baker said he was staying in Dover and had visited the Wal-Mart where, “It’s a great place to go to play the game ‘Does that woman have more teeth or more babies?’”

After appearing on “America’s Got Talent,” “Last Comic Standing,” Fox Sports, ESPN, and the Las Vegas Comedy Festival among other spots, Mr. Baker admitted to achieving a lifelong dream last week.

“My mom always said that if I worked hard enough I would some day perform in Harrington, Delaware, so thank you very much,” he quipped.

This is the guy who has performed over 2,000 shows in 10 years in 14 countries.

“I’m always looking for affirmation (from the audience) but don’t take it personally if they don’t show it,” he said afterward. “It’s tough to get people engaged on a day like today when they’re hot and subdued and trying to conserve energy.”

Mr. Baker admitted to a weird moment while among the locals.

“I was in downtown Harrington and opened a door for a lady and she gave me the nastiest look, then I realized it was the women’s restroom,” he said.

Following an uncomfortable pause, the giggling entertainer felt it necessary to remind folks, “These are jokes, Delaware, they’re just jokes.”

Matt Baker performs with a paddle ball in his mouth on the Plaza at the Delaware State Fair. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Letting everyone in on a personal note, Mr. Baker said, “My nickname in Mexico is ‘El Diablo Blanco’ which translates to ‘You’re a sexy man,’”

Then there was his stint as a professional hackey sack player, which began as a 17-year-old.

“That’s like telling the world, ‘Hey, I suck at normal sports,’” he said.

He confessed to finishing eighth among nine contestants at the world hackey sack championships “but that girl with one leg that I beat was crazy good,”

Leading up to his seemingly impossible move to remove tightly fastened handcuffs, Mr. Baker said he had some practice at doing the unexpected.

“I do a lot of escapes,” he said. “My most recent escape came when I got out one year early from my Verizon plan.”

Pointing to a horsehead on a long stick, Mr. Baker showed off his “Amish motorcycle.”

As he thrusted a large dagger toward the head of a blindfolded 10-year-old girl as her mother captured it on her cell phone and the crowd laughed on, Mr. Baker chided them with mock outrage.

“What’s wrong with you people?” as the audience roared even louder.

Actually, Mr. Baker described everyone at the fair as “friendly and extremely accommodating” after the show.

“The grandstand looks beautiful and everything is very well laid out and organized. I’m looking forward to spending a few days here based on how nice people have been so far.”

Mr. Baker performs at 8 p.m. on The Plaza through Saturday and 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Saturday.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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