Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday, October 24: Bronx, NY- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I walked to the laundromat in Harlem to wash my dirty clothes. Usually I wait until a Monday to do that chore, but I wanted to save myself from doing laundry on a day off.

Today for the "Scare-athon", which I have been severely slacking on this season, I watched the stupid horror film "Dr. Giggles".
There actually were some decent moments in the movie, but I gave up on caring about halfway through when the titular doctor did in one of his victims with a giant, comical band aid.

I've been watching my fair share of dumb fright flicks this year, but that is mainly because I want to see some new movies to get me in the mood around Halloween, and I've already seen most of the good ones.

Ryan and I had a radio PR in the tent's concession area an hour before the show. We actually only did one brief interview during that whole hour.
The rest of the time we amused ourselves by playing dominoes and Jenga with boxes of Uncle Ben's rice that the DJs had cases of.....for some reason.

We did get to try our hands at being DJs, but that dream quickly collapsed once the real DJ caught us messing with his equipment.


I wasn't really feeling it for the shows tonight, and the audiences didn't seem to be in a circus mood either.
On the plus side, I may have found a solution to some of the problems we've been pulling our hair out over in the vacuum gag.
I always like it when an improvisation fueled by frustration turns out to be useful!

After the shows there was a surprise birthday barbecue for Yolanda, the wife of Enrique, our lightning tech.
Ryan and I spent the majority of the evening talking to Jose, the father of the Azzario Sisters and a member of the renowned Jose Michel clown troupe.
We enjoyed talking about clowning and circuses in Europe with Jose, and he was very gracious with advice and information.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday, October 23: Bronx, NY- 7:30 p.m.

The rain continued today, but thankfully not as strong as on Wednesday.
Helen joined me on a trip to the Upper West Side to visit the Candle Cafe West, a vegan restaurant.
Our food was good, but not as tasty as the meal I had at the Chicago Diner, a vegetarian restaurant that I visited five years ago.

Next we hopped on the subway and headed down to Union Square so Helen could sell some of her old books at The Strand. I admire her strength; I don't think I could ever part with any of my books.

Before heading back to the lot we stopped in at Max Brenner's, a fancy schmancy chocolate shop/restaurant in the area.
I got a cup of hot chocolate so potent in its sweetness that I thought I may have to amputate a few toes after drinking it.
Man, was it a great antidote to the dreary, cold, wet weather, though!

Speaking of sweets, I was amused to find a new addition to the backstage lounge in the tent today:

A vending machine! Now if we could just get some massage therapists and a blackjack table, we'll be in business!

We had a very lively audience for the show tonight, which was a treat.
There was a group of about six or seven payasos in the crowd wearing full clown make up and costumes.
They came into the ring after the show and immediately went to talk to the Vazquez kids.
Backstage I asked Jan if they were our replacements. Jan, never a slouch, replied with, "I hate for you to find out like this....."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, October 21 & Wednesday, October 22: Bronx, NY

10/21/14- Day Off!

Today Ryan, Chase and I went down to the East Village to look around and window shop in all the different cool stores.

At 2:00 p.m. we met Ryan's high school friend, Nate Fernald, who writes comedy for television and also performs his own stand up comedy.
We ate lunch at Ben's, the great Jewish deli we visited on the last day off, and talked shop with Nate.
He was also nice enough to give us CDs of him and his partner performing stand up as "Team Submarine".

Ryan, Chase, and I submitted our names for the lottery to win tickets to "Book of Mormon", but once again we did not win.
Chase bought a ticket to "A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder", which we saw last week, and I  checked the box office for the star studded show, "It's Only A Play", to see if they had any tickets for less than $100. Alas, those seats are sold out for the next few weeks.

Since the other Broadway shows I want to see aren't open yet, or I am waiting to see them with friends, I decided not to attend the theatre tonight.
Ryan, Chase, and I waited outside the theatre for "It's Only A Play" while I wrote down directions for Chase to find his way back to the lot after his show.

While I was writing I heard Chase say something along the lines of, "Oh my God", and then Ryan quickly said, "Steve, turn around."
I looked behind me and was thrilled to see brilliant comedic actor, Nathan Lane, one of the stars of "It's Only A Play", walking down the sidewalk towards us.
He walked by the three of us as we stared at him with our mouths hanging open and our hearts pounding in our chests.
That up close and personal celebrity sighting was definitely the highlight of my day off!

After parting ways with Chase, Ryan and I went back to the Village to pick up some of the items we had been eyeing earlier in the day.
We headed back to the lot afterwards, and I was overcome with exhaustion while we rode on the subway up to the Bronx.
Just the thought of the walk back to the tent was enough to wear me out even further.

Ryan and I didn't clean the water mat Monday night so we could rush out the door to my birthday party, so before we began relaxing for the rest of the evening, we went into the tent to get that task out of the way.

In Ryan's trailer we began watching a new television series that he picked up last week. Halfway through the first episode both of us were out like lights; we woke up as the credits were rolling.
I'm not sure if that was a reflection on the show, or our late night and full day of walking around Manhattan.

Once we had woken up again we listened to the "Team Submarine" CDs which Nate had given us; those provided us with many laughs until Chase returned from seeing his show.
We spent the rest of the evening talking clowning with Chase and eating the ice cream that he brought as a free roll.

10/22/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today was a rainy day, so I didn't stray too far from the lot. I went over to Target in the morning to have a coffee at Starbucks and to use Wifi to download my "stories" (said like an old woman talking about soap operas).

Later in the day Ryan, Chase, and I walked to a pizza joint to grab a few slices to go. We enjoyed them in Ryan's trailer where it was warm and dry; we spent the whole afternoon talking shop and watching clown and comedy videos.

All evening it would just not stop raining. I had to do some creative exits after the water and carpenter gags because the area under the seats where I usually leave was flooded from all the precipitation.
Chase watched the show with two of his friends from the Ringling Red Unit, Brian Wright, a clown, and his wife, Tatiana.

Chase, Brian, and Tatiana visited with us briefly after the show, but then they had to head out since they open in Bridgeport, CT with Ringling tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, October 19 & Monday, October 20: Bronx, NY

10/19/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I woke up up early to meet my friend, Dan Berkley, for breakfast. I met him in Harlem at Amy Ruth's, which is a famous soul food restaurant that was featured on the television show, "Man Vs. Food".
Dan and I both had chicken and waffles, which the restaurant is known for. I had never had that southern dish before, but I really enjoyed it. The fried chicken in particular was amazing!

After we ate Dan gave me a birthday present that my friend, Jessi Hoffschildt, sent to me from Japan.

Zombie slippers! Thanks, Jessi!

After breakfast I went back to my trailer and took a little nap in preparation for our three shows (After all, I AM 31 now....)

We did great business for all three shows today, and I kept myself busy in between gags, which made work really seem to fly by.

I happened to be in the office during the first show when a delivery showed up for me. It was an Edible Arrangements gift bag containing chocolate covered pineapple from Tony Chino.
Tony was a clown on Ringling's Red Unit back in the 1970s, and I was extremely surprised to get a present from him since we have never met. We've only recently connected on Facebook, so it was very nice of him to think of me today.

Thanks, Chino!

During the shows I spent some of my breaks over in Georgie and Claire's trailer, where the dancers were having tea and watching "Toy Story 3".

Claire was adament about giving the third show motivational speech on my birthday, so I feared the worst.
I was surprised when Claire told me that for my birthday she was going to go the rest of the evening without being mean to me. She then began singing "Happy Birthday", and the dancers came out with a plate of cupcakes. It was a very nice surprise.

 Note my champagne glasses from Emma's birthday party
Thank you, ladies!

After the little mini celebration, Claire gave her actual speech, which was on the subject of time and work, and how people take both for granted.
Claire talked about how people often wish that time would speed up, or how people sometimes complain about having to work, but how we should be grateful for having a job, especially one we enjoy, and that we get to spend time with our friends.
It was a nice reminder that on my birthday I was extremely blessed to be living my dream and sharing the day with my friends and circus family.
Who could ask for a better birthday present?


Today I went to Andre's Cafe, the Hungarian restaurant that I visited when we first arrived in NYC.
I had chicken paprikas and a side of Hungarian goulash; both were delicious!
On the way out I grabbed a piece of dobos torta (drummer cake) to go. The last time I dined at Andre's they were out of that delicacy, so I was happy that I was able to get a piece today. 
It was just as delicious as I remember it being when I had my last piece seven years ago!

Our friends, twin photographers Jason and Justin Senft, came to visit today with their mother. Ryan and I joined them across the street from the lot at Mariscos, the seafood restaurant that we are no stranger to.
Jason and Justin gave me a great birthday gift: a framed print of a photograph they took of me and my pet duck, Dexter, on Kelly Miller back in 2011.
It is such a beautiful picture, and I had never seen it before.

Thank you, guys!

Mrs. Senft, was also nice enough to buy our dinner. We had a great time visiting and seeing the twins' beautiful circus photographs.

We had several friends in the audience tonight. In addition to Jason, Justin, and their mother, Eggroll and Tatevik, performers from Big Apple (Eggroll is the ringmaster, and Tatevik performs on the rola bola), and Dean and Taylor (clowns from Ringling's Red Unit), were also in the crowd.

Memo, our ringmaster, surprised me before Intermission by telling the audience about my birthday, and saying that I was going to Dave & Buster's after the show to celebrate. Being the generous spirit that I am, I yelled out to the crowd, "Everyone's invited!"
If only I had known how to say that in Spanish, some of the people might have shown up!


After the show a small group of us headed into Times Square to visit Dave & Buster's to celebrate my birthday.
I had such a great time visiting with the folks that came. It was neat that my party attracted a very eclectic group. There were people from our show, a few clowns from Ringling's Red Unit (which was on its way from Boston to Bridgeport, CT), a few folks from Big Apple, as well as a few friends who live in New York City.

I was excited to see Buist Bickley, who I grew up with in Walterboro, SC. He has gone on to have a successful career on Broadway as a scenic designer and prop supervisor on currently running shows such as "Rock Of Ages", "The Last Ship", "It's Only A Play", and many others. 
He came over to Dave & Buster's from rehearsals for "The Elephant Man", which begins previews next month.
Buist and I went to church together, and we even performed together in a production of "Annie" through the Colleton County Arts Council when we were in high school. 
I am so proud of all his accomplishments and how far he has come. 

After dining and visiting with everyone, I hit the gaming floor. Dave & Buster's is like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults, and I was excited to play some skee ball and arcade games.
I was able to collect a bounty of tickets from the different games thanks to my assistants, Tatevik from Big Apple, and Jane, our Ukrainian belly dancer friend married to our clown friend, Rob Lok.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to cash in my tickets for any prizes before Dave & Buster's closed down at 1:00 a.m., but I will be back!
After shutting the joint down, we all visited some more out on the street for about an hour before we all went our separate ways.

Thank you so much to everyone that came out and made my birthday party such a blast!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Saturday, October 18: Bronx, NY- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today I went to have lunch at 5 Napkin Burger, a gourmet burger restaurant. I was only given one napkin with my meal, though. What a rip off!

After lunch I found a nearby barbershop and got a much need haircut. I then visited a couple of book stores in the area, and I was also able to peruse several tables full of books set up along the sidewalks on Broadway.

"Scare-athon" updates! Yesterday I watched "House Of 1,000 Corpses", which is one of my favorite horror films. The first forty minutes are perfect!
Today I watched a few episodes of "The Hilarious House Of Doctor Frightenstein", a 1970s Canadian children's television program featuring comedic versions of famous horror icons like Dracula, Igor, and the Wolfman.
It wasn't scary (or really that funny), but it was Halloween themed!

We had great audiences for the shows tonight. I've been saying a new line at the end of the carpenter gag that got a great laugh from the first crowd. When the applause for the end of the act dies down, I hold my hands up and say, "Yes, we are amazing! Thank you for noticing."

At the start of the second water gag I was running through the audience when I saw a family huddled together by one of the ramps that leads down to the concessions area.
The patriarch of the family was pointing into the ring, so he had his arm extended into the walkway that I was using.
I ran full tilt at his arm and pretended to clothesline myself on his hand. That earned me a huge laugh from the crowd, and it gave me plenty of schtick as I got back on my feet.

Ryan invited me over for homemade meatballs after the show, and at midnight I celebrated the beginning of my 31st birthday by having ice cream.
Ryan got the newest season of the show "South Park" on DVD as my gift, and he also wrote the lyrics to a birthday song just for me.
He had planned to have our composer friend, Larry Lees, put the song to music, but unfortunately Larry's computer crashed recently, and he wasn't able to complete the job.
Still, I enjoyed the hilarious lyrics that Ryan came up with, even if they were presented a cappella.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17: Bronx, NY- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I didn't set an alarm this morning so I could sleep in a little bit; boy was I surprised when I woke up right before noon! I guess my body really needed rest!

This afternoon I met Laura Rizer in Manhattan for lunch. Laura and I went to the same school in Walterboro, SC, but she was three grades behind me, so we never really had much interaction.
I just happened to find out that she was living in Brooklyn, so I looked her up and we planned to meet up on one of her days off.
Laura is keeping very busy with her job as a set production assistant. She is currently working on the filming of a new crime drama for HBO that will debut next year.

We picked up sandwiches from a deli that her crew is always ordering from, and then we went to a little park to eat.
After finishing our food we walked around the northern part of Central Park, which has some beautiful scenes of nature that almost make you forget you're in a city.
Laura is a student and practitioner of improvisational comedy, so it was nice to be able to talk comedy and performing with somebody out of my circle of circus friends.

Laura came to watch the first performance, which unfortunately had a rather subdued audience. I was happy that the second crowd made up for the first with their energy.

Today was Emma's birthday, so the dancers organized a party outside of their trailers after work. For me, the highlight of the event was playing party games, some of them American standards, some of them coming from jolly old England, and one of them that I'm pretty sure Georgie made up on the spot.
That one in particular required the two competing teams to have all of their players spin in a circle ten times with their foreheads on a stick, run a short distance, put on one of the dancers' penguin jumpsuits, drink a shot of alcohol without using their hands, get out of the penguin suit, and then spin around ten more times with their foreheads on the stick before tagging the next player, who would then do the same.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday, October 16: Bronx, NY- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I was on my way into Manhattan when I got a call from John Kennedy Kane, aka Eggroll, who is the ringmaster for Big Apple Circus.
I asked if he would like to meet up for lunch, and since he had a few hours before their afternoon show run through, he agreed.

I met Eggroll at Lincoln Center, and he introduced me to a few of the performers on this year's show before we took off to find a diner.
We had a good time catching up, and Eggy was nice enough to buy my lunch. (He insisted I put that part in)

After leaving Lincoln Center I went to Penn Station to walk the route I would always take on the way to work when I was playing Madison Square Garden with Ringling. Ah, memories. I even picked up a black and white cookie on the way. Ah, sugary treats.

Today for the "Scare-athon" I watched "The Shining", the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King's novel.
I wasn't a fan of the film the first time I saw it, but I watched it again several years ago, and I liked it much more upon a second viewing.
(I highly recommend the novel if you haven't read it)

We had a very enthusiastic audience for the show tonight, which made the show much more enjoyable for all of us in the cast.
The parents and grandmother of my friend, Dan Berkley, were in the audience, as well as Sam and Braxton McCollum.

Dan's grandmother, his dad, Roger, and his mom, Elaine

Ryan and I met Sam and Braxton on Kelly Miller last year, and Sam was actually able to see Vazquez in Miami last month while he was there on a business trip.
I was so glad that he was able to come back with Braxton to catch the show. They even treated us to dinner after the show.
I felt very lucky to be able to visit with so many friends today.