The entertainer A conversation with Elvis the Elf

Most of the year, Ron Albanese is Polka Dot the clown. But for the holidays, the local elementary school teacher and writer becomes the charismatic and lovable Elvis the Elf.

Elvis will appear at the Hoboken tree lighting celebration on Dec. 9 in front of City Hall at 98 Washington St. in Hoboken. The event starts at 4:30 p.m.

Albanese began performing at children’s parties about five years ago. He began to perform more regularly when his son 3-year-old Nicholas was born. Since then, he has been featured at various festivals in Hoboken and has performed at hundreds of parties. We recently caught up with Albanese to find out what he is up to these days.

EM – Where are you from?

RA – Elvis the Elf has lived in a nice suburb in The North Pole, about a half-hour commute to Santa’s Workshop, though he is actually "bi-polar;" he has a summer getaway house at the South Pole!

I am a Jersey gypsy (lived here and there) who landed in the mile-square almost 10 years ago ("fell in love with a Hoboken girl …"). Hoboken is just great!

EM – Who are your influences?

RA – For physical comedy, I’m partial to Jackie Gleason and John Ritter – those guys are the best. In children’s television, the work of Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) remains inspirational; his pacing and

storytelling is ideal for toddlers. The Wiggles are wonderful; they’re energetic and write their own songs… kinda like me! Another major influence is Elvis Presley; truly one of a kind. The name Elvis the Elf is my own little tribute to The King.

EM – Why did you become a children’s performer?

RA – I’ve always wanted to work with children, and my training (psychology, etc.) and skills (musician) were best suited for this. When I first tried it, I was kind of chicken (and sometimes dressed up like one), but I quickly started to feel comfortable. I am now in my fifth year of performing steadily for children, and average130-150 shows a year.

EM – Where have you performed?

RA – I perform at houses (backyards, basements and beyond), Elks clubs, The Meadowlands, parks, beaches, anywhere there’s a party. I did a show at Shipyard Park in Hoboken last summer. That was simply amazing. Around 350 people showed up.

EM – What is your favorite day of the week?

RA – I love every single day of the week. I love both of my jobs (I’m also an elementary school teacher), but Monday mornings are sometimes tough after a long weekend of shows. I spend a lot of money on coffee.

EM – How would you describe your act?

RA – My act is really a "non act." I really just amplify myself and do what I love to do, which is make children laugh. I was doing that way before I ever painted my nose red. My style, though, is a blend of physical comedy and quick repartee that children can understand. I’m a friendly clown. When I go to a party, I usually make the rounds and introduce myself to every child, and then ask if I can stay and play awhile! In a sense, I "become"

one of the kids for an hour, and my shows are interactive. That’s also why with any original character I do, I keep my look very simple, and use only a little makeup and primary colors. I want to look festive, not hidden away in a disguise that can confuse children.

EM – Are you looking for mainstream exposure?

RA – Yes! I want to perform for as many people as possible. One dream is to have a Polka Dot TV show. It would be live action, shot live from "Polkaville." It would have the best set ever.

EM – What professional plans do you have for the future?

RA – One of my ongoing goals is to try to keep getting better at what I do. It’s not so much about learning how to make another kind of balloon animal, as so much becoming a better and better communicator. I constantly review and change my performances based on feedback from customers.

EM – What is the best part about your job?

RA – Knowing that kids and parents are enjoying my shows as much as I’m enjoying them.

The Hoboken Holiday Tree Lighting will be held at 98 Washington St. in Hoboken on Dec. 9 starting at 4:30 p.m. For information call (201) 420-2207 or visit q


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