Friday, November 27, 2015

Tuesday, November 3-Tuesday, November 10: Freehold, NJ

11/3/15-7:30 p.m.

Pamela and I had lunch at an empanada restaurant this afternoon. The empanadas were good, but they weren't better than the ones Tatiana makes.

After lunch Pamela and I visited Turkey Swamp Park to walk around in nature and enjoy the beautiful weather.

We did such fantastic photo concession business the first weekend in Freehold that I had a sizable chunk of extra money burning a hole in my pocket. I took that and combined it with a couple of birthday gift cards to buy a Nintendo Wii U game system. Now you all know what I have been doing rather than updating my blog.....

We had a good crowd for the show tonight, but they were very unfocused. Any of the more subtle bits we did seemed to be missed completely; the people mostly responded to the big slapstick and sight gags. Mostly.

Our clown friend, Dan McCallum, came to visit again this evening, so we enjoyed chatting with him before and after work.

11/4/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I met my friend, Doug Young, for lunch at the mall right next to the lot. Doug is the owner of the New Jersey Circus Center, which is just down the road from where we are set up.

After eating we checked out a new Japanese store called UNIQLO that just opened in the mall. I found some great black and white striped socks that made perfect clown costume accessories; I picked up a few pairs at a great price.

Back at the lot I invited Nico over to take my new Wii U system for a spin.

Last night was supposed to be our last in Freehold, but the show made a knee jerk decision based off the great business we did this past weekend, and we will be staying here through next Tuesday.

I feared a terrible drop off in business, and although we did get a small crowd tonight, they weren't a bad audience, which was some consolation.

11/5/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Pamela and I had lunch at Bobby's Burger Palace, a restaurant chain owned by TV chef, Bobby Flay.
It was ok.
Return again? I don't think I may.

Look out Dr. Seuss!

Ryan and I died a horrible comedy death in the show tonight. On the bright side, our clown friend, Brenn Swanson, visited with her family, and she brought delicious cookies for us. She also brought a program from the very first clown festival in China that she helped organize back in 2007.

11/6/15- 7:30 p.m.

Our clown friend, Pat Cashin, came to visit this afternoon so his son, Jamie, could play with his new friend, Nico.
While the kids played, Ryan, Pat, and I visited and shared many laughs.

We had slightly better attendance for the show tonight, which was promising. Our friends, John Bundy and Morgan, came to watch the performance.
John plays Santa on the Christmas tour that Ryan and I perform on every December, and Morgan is his assistant when he performs his magic shows throughout the year.

The alternator belt came off the little car this evening. Unfortunately I didn't discover that until I threw down the clutch so the car could make its entrance into the tent.
I quickly jumped out of the car and pushed it around the ring. I thought I was in pretty good shape until I noticed how exhausted I was for the gag after having to do that impromptu change.

After the show we visited with Bundy and Morgan for awhile, and before we headed back to our trailers, we saw Luis, who gave us an amazing gift: a microphone and all of the equipment that goes with it so that we can record our own high quality announcements and sound effects.
It was such a thoughtful gift that for once Ryan and I were speechless.

11/7/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

It completely slipped my mind for us to fix the alternator belt on the little car before the first show, so once again we had to push the auto into the ring for the 2:00 p.m. carpenter gag.

At Intermission we went to fix the problem, but it turned out to be a more involved job than we had  anticipated.
We had to borrow an Allen wrench from Martin to properly fix the belt, but I was happy that we finished the repair before the second show.

I was worn out and achy today from being sick, but the second audience was really into the show, and they gave me a burst of energy.

By the third show I was feeling incredibly discouraged. I had so little energy from being sick that I felt like I couldn't do a good job for the crowds no matter how hard I tried.

11/8/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I chose to sleep in as much as I could today, and it seemed to help. My body felt much better, and I had energy for all of the shows.
I owe a lot of that to my wonderful girlfriend, who drove to the grocery store after doing three shows last night so she could get the ingredients to make me chicken and dumpling soup.

I did feel that the audiences were tough today, but I had a very good second show.

11/9/15- 7:30 p.m.

My clown friends, Lee Andrews and Joey Klein, came to visit this afternoon. Before we went to lunch I warned them that I was feeling really run down from the six pack and from being sick, but by the end of our visit, I was feeling in much better spirits.

Joey brought a very thoughtful gift along with him. Last weekend when we were walking around the mall, I lamented that I have never been able to find a duck calendar.
Joey took it upon himself to find twelve different pictures from my Facebook page of me with my different pet ducks, and he made me my very own 2016 duck calendar.

After the show there was a birthday party for Alexa Vazquez. Pamela and I only made a brief appearance as I felt the need to rest since I was still recovering from my sickness.

11/10/15- 7:30 p.m.

It rained all day today. Pamela and I spent most of our free time running errands and getting ready for our jump.

Today was Ryan's 31st birthday, so when he and his family got back from running errands, Pamela and I went over to his house to take him his present.

Everything was wet in the tent for the show tonight, especially the ring curb and track where the audience walks to their seats. To avoid slipping and busting our butts any time we had to run in our gags, Ryan and I had to be very careful and really pick up our knees as we ran; it looked like we were involved in a Benny Hill chase sequence.

There was a small crowd for our final show in Freehold, but they had a good time.

Ernest Albrecht, the editor of Spectacle Magazine, came to watch the show with a friend. Here is the review that he wrote in the most recent issue:

"I caught up with the so-called Western Unit of Circo Hermanos Vazquez in an upscale mall in New Jersey that the Cole Bros. show played several years ago, just once.  The Vazquez troupe was  there with the stipulation that the show would include no animals, which apparently even included dogs and horses.  To compensate the circus brought in new thrill act, made of up motorcycle daredevils who jumped from one ramp to another across the space of the entire ring .
The show also included one new act which I had never seen before.  Duo Exxtrem’s double strap act upped the spectacle by being dunked into a tall and rather narrow fish bowl between flights.  For a spectacular finish they included bursts of bubbles, fire and smoke to their impressive work aloft.
I also enjoyed seeing Klaudie Legronova Bremlov, the show’s amazing foot juggler, again, and, of course, the cast included Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs, whose work that rainy, chilly night before a very small audience was about as close to comic perfection  as you will find.  I was impressed anew by the duo’s  carpenter gag whose beautifully realized props, turned the act into a small Laurel and Hardy movie set.  The vacuum gag’s blow off utilized more of the team’s clever props.  Obviously Ryan is the Paul Jung of the present generation.  I know of no other producing clowns, who are as effective, that is to say funny, clever and surprising as this talented pair.
I also enjoyed watching Steve get even with an audience member who decided not to play by the rules in the beach ball bouncing time filler interlude.   He knows how to handle a recalcitrant or uncooperative audience member and make him regret his trying to top the clowns.
Another new element added to the show is a bit of sermonizing a la UniverSoul.  “Kiss your parents and thank them for bringing you,” kids in the audience are admonished.
The audience on the night I attended was small because it was the closing night of a week’s extension of the original run.  As is often the case, the added week was not as well promoted as the first week, but the company played it all full out."

The "getting even" with an audience member that he referred to happened like this:
After the carpenter gag I caught my beach ball on the ring curb and descended the steps into the audience. The spotlight was right in my face, temporarily blinding me, so I walked right into a row of empty metal folding chairs. I bashed my shin really hard and fell on my face; not the best way to start an act.

As I limped around the stands hitting the ball to people, one smart aleck man grabbed the ball, held onto it, and smiled at me as if to say, "What are you going to do now, clown?"

I simply smiled and waved goodbye to him, and then I left the tent. I made sure to wave goodbye to him one more time before going down the stairs that lead to under the seats.
I quickly ran as fast as I could under the seats, and I went up the staircase that brought me directly behind where the troublemaker was sitting.
Before he could react, I grabbed his hat, taunted him with it, ran down the stairs, and tossed his cap into the ring.
I turned around and blew him a big kiss before returning to my beach ball.
Big laugh from the crowd.

The lesson to be learned? Don't screw with the clowns, especially when one of them is limping and bleeding under his costume.

Taking the props from backstage to my truck wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.
We loaded as much stuff into my truck as we could, and then we pushed the big props over. That part was easier since there was hardly any traffic at the intersection we had to cross. I was even able to drive the little car over, which was very easy.....and fun!
The one frustrating thing that happened was that the weld broke on one of the wheels on the carpenter box.
Guess what we'll be fixing in the next town?!

Most people weren't going to leave for Newburgh, NY, the next town, until the morning, but Ryan and I wanted to avoid traffic, so we decided to leave tonight.
Nestor helped us leave since the trailer parking area was so tight, and by the time we hit the road it was already midnight.

It was supposed to be about 104 miles to Newburgh, but Ryan's RV GPS took us on a route that was about 20 miles longer. I didn't mind too much because it took us away from New York City and all of that traffic.
It rained the whole drive, so that was bad enough. There were a few times that the road was so shiny from the collected water that I couldn't see the lines for lane separation.

We stopped at a Walmart in Newburgh around 4 a.m. Our plan was to wait there until we were called to be parked at the new lot.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wednesday, October 28-Monday, November 2: Freehold, NJ

10/28/15- Day Off!

Our lot is right next to a really nice mall, so while we waited to be parked, Pamela and I walked around and checked out the different shops and restaurants.

There were intermittent periods of heavy rainfall today, and unfortunately one of them occurred while I was getting my trailer parked.
I got soaked to the bone by the time I was done unhooking my truck, which left me none too pleased.
Adding to my bad mood was the fact that our trailers are parked far away from the circus, and it is going to be a real pain in the butt to get the props to the tent on our opening day and then back again on load out night.

Once I had a hot shower I was feeling much better, and I was even happier when Pamela and I stepped out for a date night.
Unfortunately back at the lot I was met with more frustration. Because Ryan and I have trailers with cargo doors that need to open for prop loading and unloading, and because all the trailers are parked in a tight area, Ryan and I are all the way at the end of the long line of trailers.
This also put us very far from the power boxes, and I discovered that I didn't have enough cable to plug my house into electricity.

Since it was late and no one was around, I resolved myself to dealing with the problem in the morning.
This was one day that made me glad that we are getting off the road next year. I've had about enough for now.

10/29/15- Day Off!

Today was a new day, and I felt completely refreshed after getting a good night's sleep.

Nestor, who parks our trailers, was nice enough to let me borrow his power cable for this town. It was just long enough to let me plug into electricity; if my trailer had been another few feet away, I would have been in the same predicament.

Pamela and I went out to do laundry today, and then we went to a couple of different thrift stores to shop for my Halloween costume.

We ended the evening having dinner with the Combs family at the Cheesecake Factory just a stone's throw from our houses.

10/30/15- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan and I put all of our costumes and the majority of our props into the back of my truck and drove them over to the tent this morning; it took two trips.
The carpenter box and the little car we pushed to the edge of the road, and then across a busy intersection with no crosswalk to get them to the backstage.

Our twin photographer friends, Jason and Justin Senft, came to visit and watch the show this evening. They brought me a belated birthday gift, an awesome Bumble decoration for my Christmas display back home.

We had a good crowd for our first show in Freehold. We don't have the dog or tiger act in this town because the mall didn't want animal acts, so the Vazquez brothers brought in a motorcycle jumping act to close the show.
Jason and Ray are jumping their bikes from a small ramp in the entrance to the seating area to a humongous landing ramp located at the back of the ring.
As soon as one of them would complete a jump, they would then drive under the seats and back into the lobby area to get ready to jump again.

Ryan and I found out right before the show that we would be covering the set up of the two ramps, and we were worried that the portion of the vacuum gag that happens in the seats wouldn't be long enough for the crew to set up everything properly, but that turned out to not be an issue.
What was a problem was that the ramp in the seating entranceway blocked many of our bits from different sections of the audience; it was frustrating to try and adjust all of our blocking on the fly.
In addition to that, Luis couldn't see us for half of the gag, so he had to keep guessing when to hit our sound effects.

10/31/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

We had a small, dead crowd for the first show; it was really tough performing for them. I guess they all came to the show as zombies in honor of Halloween.

The crowds improved for the last two shows, but I think we would have done much better business today if it wasn't Halloween.

Speaking of the holiday, the circus kids trick or teated door to door at the trailers this evening.

That's Nico on the right as a mummy.

There aren't many children on the show this year, and even though I loaded up each child with a mountain of sugar, I still had lots of leftover candy at the end of the evening.

11/1/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I loved getting an extra hour of sleep tonight for the end of Daylight Savings Time.

Joey Klein picked me up this morning and took me to brunch down the road at a diner. We then went back to my trailer and visited until it was time for me to get ready for work.

We did good business for the first show, which was a welcome change from yesterday's 2:00 p.m. performance.

The second show was jam packed with people, and Ryan and I rocked them with our gags; it was awesome!
After the show we were mobbed by people wanting pictures with us. I was happy to be doing such good business for our photo concession, but at the same time it was a bit overwhelming. A few times I had to ask the crowd to back up, because we really were getting surrounded, and it was making me incredibly anxious.

We did good business for the final show of the day, but it didn't top the second show.

After work we had the 2015 Vazquez Halloween Party. Nico, Abrianna and I went as Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, the Warner Brothers (and Sister) from one of my favorite cartoons, "Animaniacs".

I wish I could share my photos from the party, but the colored lighting in the tent led to terrible pictures taken on my phone.

Here are a few of the different costumes as photographed by Dominik, who has an excellent camera.

11/2/15- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon Dominik was nice enough to take new promotional photos for me and Ryan to use for the show we are building for next summer in Baraboo.
I'm so excited about how well they came out.

When I went over to the office to get paid this evening, I was informed that we would be staying one more week in Freehold because of the excellent business we did over the weekend.
I was happy because it meant one more week before we have to deal with the hassle of getting our props all the way from the tent back to our trailers.

Our clown friend, Pat Cashin, visited tonight with his sons Shane and Jamie. Another of our clown friends, Dan McCallum, who works at the nearby Six Flags park, also dropped by. Their presence was a great addition to the good news I received about staying in Freehold for another week.

We had a big crowd for the show tonight, and they were an excellent audience. After the show we were taking pictures with the public, and one father asked, "Can I give you guys a tip?"
I answered, "Sure", expecting him to give us a bit of advice or criticism, but then he slipped five dollar bills into each of our hands. 

Nico watched the show tonight with our friends, and he and Jamie became fast friends, bonding over putting buckets of popcorn on their heads.

After work we ordered pizzas and had a little get together at Ryan's house with our friends, which of course was great fun.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tuesday, October 20-Tuesday, October 27: Windsor Mill, MD

10/20/15- Day Off!

Pamela and I walked around the mall next to the lot while we waited for my trailer to get parked. It wasn't as nice as I was expecting it to be, but it did have a fantastic suit store where Ryan and I bought wardrobe for our show in Baraboo next summer.

While we were purchasing the outfits, one of the salesmen asked us why we were buying so many suits. We responded that we were performers. He asked what we did, and we decided to keep the word "clown" as far out of the conversation as possible.
Ryan told the man that we were singers, and the guy perked right up. Apparently a singing group had recently bought their suits from the store, and they had even given an impromptu a cappella concert to the staff.
The salesman begged and pleaded with us to do the same since he had given us such a good deal on the suits, and Pamela did her best not to burst out laughing as we squirmed and tried to get out of exposing ourselves as frauds. True we could have sung for him, but it wouldn't have been anything like he was expecting, and we wanted to take a little break from disappointing people.

We finally weaseled our way out of singing; instead we did a little eccentric dancing so the staff wouldn't be left empty handed.
As we walked away from the store, I turned to Ryan and exclaimed, "Singers?! You couldn't think of anything better than singers!?"

Pamela and I did some laundry after my house was parked, and then later in the evening we met up with a few of the dancers to watch the new horror movie, "Crimson Peak".
I really enjoyed the film, and I had forgotten that Guillermo Del Toro had directed it until I saw the end credits. Suddenly some of the more grisly scenes in the picture made a lot more sense.

10/21/15- Day Off!

This morning I went all over creation looking for a certain brand of orange paint that Ryan and I use. I wasted way too much time before finally giving up and picking up a different brand.

In the early afternoon I had my belated birthday party at a bowling alley just down the road from the lot. I was happy that in addition to a group of friends from the circus, our Baltimore area friends that we have met through the circus were also able to attend.

I had a lot of fun bowling (I even won one of the games on my lane), and even more fun visiting with everyone that came to celebrate.
I don't know what I would have done without Pat Stevenson and Carol Lang, who helped organize things once we got to the alley; they made sure that everything ran smoothly, and it was greatly appreciated.


One of the presents I received for my birthday was a gift card that was good for use at several different restaurants, so tonight Pamela and I used it to go on a dinner date.

10/22/15- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan and I were up early this morning to paint Pompeyo's dog props. I was happy, because even with a break to load our props into the tent, I felt we got a lot accomplished.

A couple of funny things happened while we were outside painting. One of the set pieces we created for the act is a big set of Western saloon doors with angled gates coming off the side.
I had the whole thing standing up so I could paint the back side, and while I was working, Pompeyo called his poodle, Sugar, to come to him.
The set was between Sugar and Pompeyo, but he didn't let that stop him. The poodle ran right at the set, and jumped through the open space in one of the side gates without even touching any of the edges.
Circus dog!

Another amusing incident: At one point I was running back and forth between our painting area and my trailer.
I kept passing by Nico, who was outside his house playing with some of the other kids. On one of my trips by, Nico raised his head from what he was doing and greeted me with, "Hello, white man!"

We had an extremely small crowd for our opening night show in Windsor Mill. They weren't a bad audience....there just wasn't anyone there.

Pamela began her new job with the show tonight. She stood at the tent's entrance and collected tickets.

The circus figured out that the crew doesn't need three days between towns when our jump is relatively short, hence our Thursday opening.
I was bummed not having another day off, but it is much worse for the crew, who are now busting their butts from Monday evening until the first show in the new town is finished.
Yay, circus!

10/23/15- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan and I were up early again this morning to paint. I finished painting the backs of all the foam props, and then Ryan gave me a better brush and had me paint fine lines on some of the wooden crates. What a pain in the keister that was!

Since we were mainly doing detail work on the props, I felt like we didn't get as much accomplished today, even though we worked the same amount of time.

We had a slightly bigger crowd for the show tonight, which was encouraging.

10/24/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I finished painting lines on the wooden crates, which made me very happy.

We had small crowds for the first two shows today, but we finally did good business for the 8:00 p.m. performance.

10/24/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Ryan and I did a little more painting this morning before the first show. Normally we don't do prop work on a three show day, but none of the animal acts will be with us in the next town, so we figured we needed to get as much done as possible before that happens.

We had a small crowd for the first show, but the audience was surprisingly responsive.
Our friend, Keith, was watching that performance, and he was nice enough to bring us a bag of gifts to enjoy.
Among those presents was a Ringling Bros. program from the 40's that I found amusing. There was an article that listed the different types of clowns, and I was cracking up at some of the ridiculous names they apparently pulled out of their butts for the numerous clown types.

The 5:00 p.m. show was the performance with the biggest crowd today.

By the third show I was going out of my mind. I may have tied an audience member's blanket around my neck like a cape and tried to fly from the second row of seats during the beach ball reprise.....

Visan has been brewing his own beer over the past few weeks, and after the shows he invited the male performers over to his house to try the first batch.
He even asked me and Ryan to create a label for the brew:

10/26/15- 7:30 p.m.

Pamela and I had a nice day out today, running errands and spending some time together away from the circus.

While we were out I printed out the first draft of our script for our new show, and I also did a little birthday shopping with some of the gifts cards I received last Wednesday.

Our circus historian friend, Dick Flint, came to see the show tonight with his son. I was happy they were in the crowd; otherwise the show would have been a real drag.
I'm getting mighty tired of working to small crowds in this town.

10/27/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I ran out to do some more errands, and then I got everything in my house ready for travel.

Pamela is from Alabama originally, and for today's lunch she made some authentic Alabama cuisine for me: kraut and wienies, fried taters, okra, pinto beans, and corn bread. I added my Nana's macaroni and cheese recipe to the mix, and we had a good ol' down home meal!

Thankfully we had a responsive final audience in Windsor Mill. Our Baltimore friends, Pat, Thom, Jim, and Carol came to watch, along with Dan Kleintop, a circus fan from Virginia who was in town on business.

We visited with our friends for awhile after the show, and then we hit the road for Freehold, NJ around 11:00 p.m.

It was a 166 mile jump to the next town, and it was close to 4 a.m. by the time we arrived at the beautiful Freehold Raceway Mall.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday, October 13-Monday, October 19: Landover Hills, MD

10/13/15-7:30 p.m.

Today I spray painted the hurdles for Pompeyo’s act. It sounded like a much easier task in my head, but when I went to do the job, the wind was changing direction every few seconds, and I had to constantly move the props to get them in the path of the paint spray.

We had one uneventful show this evening, and then we celebrated Eddie’s birthday with a peace and love party. Everyone was encouraged to wear all white clothing to the party; since my white clothing items were almost non existent, I had to improvise.

White thermal underwear and white trash bag shoes. Circus chic!

10/14/15- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan and I were up early this morning to coat the foam dog props with hardener. Ryan also started painting the wooden crates that will serve as dog seats.

Once again the wind caused us to have a frustrating work day, because leaves and other detritus kept blowing onto and sticking to the tacky chemical on the foam.

Once again I was worn out for our show this evening; thank goodness it was just one performance.

I had another guy in the audience that was a pain to deal with at the beginning of the vacuum gag, plus there were a couple of grown women behind him who were screaming their fool heads off because they were “afraid of me”. I made sure to sit in their laps at one point while Ryan was doing a bit.

Luckily after the show we had the redeeming factor that one man came up to us and said that he didn’t expect to have as much fun at the circus as he did.

10/15/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Ryan did more painting while I ran out to get supplies for the project.

The good news is that we finished coating the foam props in hardener. Yay progress!

Bill Karlton and Todd Schall-Vess came up to see the show all the way from Richmond, VA. 
They are friends of John Moss, and I knew from seeing them in the audience that I had met them before.
Ryan and I chatted with them for a bit after the performance.
(Todd, could you please send me the link to your Flickr account so I can share the photos you took of the show?)

10/16/15- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan and I were up early once again today to sand the coated foam props, and then we primed them all.
I was happy that we finished all of the priming after a full day of work. Yay, more progress!

We had a good audience tonight; the best of the week so far.

After the show we saw our manager up in the seats talking with a man. He claimed that one of the beach balls hit him and caused him to fall and badly injure himself.
Some people from the show asked Ryan about the supposed incident since it had happened on his side, but Ryan raised a valid point. He didn’t see anyone get hit and fall down, and if it did happen, there would have been a big reaction from the audience. We know, because it has happened before, and those guys didn’t cry about it and try to take advantage of the show afterwards.

After the show there was a birthday party for Emma. With a varied spread of appetizers and a chocolate fondue fountain, it was a welcome change from the usual birthday barbecues.

10/17/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I joined the dancers for Emma’s birthday brunch at the Silver Diner. 

There was almost nobody at the first performance today; it was a real chore to get through it.

The second show was a bit better, and then we had a great audience for the third show, so at least we ended the day on a high note.

Ryan invited me over for dinner with his family after work. We had the delicious won ton soup that he and Tatiana had been making over the course of the whole day.

10/18/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Before the first show I got to visit with my friend, Rebecca, who I first met during my Ringling days. She was a promoter in the D.C. area, and now she lives close by and works for the government.
She just happened to see a poster at the mall that she went to yesterday, so she got in touch with me and came to watch today’s first show.
She also brought delicious brownies that I shared with the cast.

My girlfriend, Pamela, arrived today, and the best part is that she is here to stay for the rest of the tour. Hooray!

Besides that bit of good news, today was a long day. The audiences didn’t really seem to care for me and Ryan in any of the shows.

After one of the vacuum gags Ryan remarked to me that he needed a vacation. Just after that we did finale and I absentmindedly started doing bits from the opening. I guess I need a vacation too!

Likewise, my mind was completely in outer space for the final show. It was just one of those days, and I was happy to get it over with.

10/19/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today was my 32nd birthday. After waking up I went over to Ryan’s house to see the beautiful Steve cake that Tatiana made for me.

The Combs family, Luis, and his wife, Nora, all joined me and Pamela for my birthday lunch at the Masa Hibachi restaurant in Silver Springs, MD.

The food was delicious, and I ate so much that I was feeling sick afterwards. Yay birthday gluttony!

After lunch we all walked around downtown Silver Springs for a bit, but pretty soon I was feeling worn out and I decided to head back to the lot to rest before our show and night jump.

Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to relax because I had a lot of work to do to prepare for load out and traveling.
Also, before the show I took Tatiana’s delicious red velvet cake around the circus to share it with everyone.

In the beach ball reprise, the first guy who hit my ball popped it, so I was up the creek without a paddle.....err.....beach ball. I quickly ran over to Ryan’s side, stole his ball, and pushed him into a row of empty seats.
I ran his ball over to my side and hit it around until Ryan came over. He picked up a metal folding chair and chased me through the ring and seats as people hit the remaining ball around.
Needless to say, I’m sure it was a wacky sight to behold.

I was so happy to finish our last performance in Landover Hills. It has not been one of my favorite towns audience wise.

We left the lot around 11:00 p.m., and then it was only an easy 38 miles to Windsor Mill, MD, the next town.

Our lot is set up close to a mall; the tent is located right next to a WEIS supermarket.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tuesday, October 6-Monday, October 12: Landover Hills, MD

10/6/15- Day Off!

Our trailers were parked this afternoon, and in the evening Ryan, Alexa and I were driven to downtown D.C. to do a television publicity.

Driving to and from our nation's capitol took a lot longer than the actual PR event. We were placed in front of a green screen that a set was superimposed over, and we filmed two very short interviews that will be broadcast on our opening day.

My girlfriend, Pamela, came to visit this evening. She brought along her world famous (the title is self proclaimed) eggplant parmesan, which was delicious!

10/7/15- Day Off!

We had beautiful weather today, so Ryan and I took full advantage of it and worked on Pompeyo's dog props.

In the evening Pamela and I drove to the National Harbor, which I had spotted on our jump Monday night.

We had dinner at Granite City Food & Brewery, which had great food and beer, but lousy service.
After our dinner we walked along the pier and enjoyed the sights and atmosphere.

We were going to ride the Skywheel, the giant, light up ferris wheel that serves as a landmark for the harbor, but when we found out how expensive it was, we decided to just take selfies in front of it instead.

I was pleasantly surprised to find "The Awakening" at the National Harbor. "The Awakening" is a statue of a giant crawling out of the earth, and it is something I have wanted to see since I first played Washington D.C. with Ringling 12 years ago.

Pamela and I had a lot of fun crawling on and taking pictures with the giant's appendages.

10/8/15- Day Off!

Pamela left this morning, but I was excited that the next time she was coming to visit it would be my birthday AND she would be staying with me for the rest of the tour!

Ryan and I did more prop work today; I spent all day sanding both wood and styrofoam.

I did take a break long enough to drive to Alexandria, VA to visit a costume shop that had the make up I was running out of.

10/9/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning Ryan and I finished sanding and shaping all of the foam dog props, and we were going to start coating them with hardener, but the sky suddenly turned overcast and it began drizzling.

Right before the show it began pouring rain; I felt like I was back in Manassas, VA!

Tonight, just as the dog act was ending, Ryan and I were in the seats prepared to start the water gag. Jesus Vazquez, who was acting as ringmaster, suddenly made an announcement in Spanish about stopping the show for five minutes.

I asked around backstage what was going on, and I was told that fire was coming out of the top of the show's generator, so they were switching to the other generator to avoid problems.

Since there was a sizable gap in the programming due to this unscheduled disruption, and since the show's energy had successfully been killed, I felt the need to get the crowd focused and pumped up again.
I did so by falling down a set of stairs and taking out a row of empty chairs in the VIP section. King of Subtlety, right here!

Due to a late start, the pause in the first half, and a long Intermission, the show ended 30 minutes late. Despite that, the crowd stayed very responsive for the whole performance.

10/10/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Emma and I were going to have brunch at a pancake house close to the lot this morning, but it was too ghetto, so after a quick GPS search I was led to the Silver Diner, which was a great find.
The restaurant had the typical diner decor, but the menu was very inventive and catered to flexitarians.....whatever the heck those are.

We had a very small crowd for the first show, but they weren't a bad audience.

During one of the vacuum gags I had a rough time with the bit where I put my wig on a bald guy. The guy I picked wanted nothing to do with us, so I gave the wig to another guy to throw onto my head. That guy turned out to be a major smart aleck, so I just couldn't win.
I finally raised my head to the top of the tent, threw up my hands, and yelled, "Why, God?! Why these two?", which got a big laugh from the audience.

During the second show's Intermission I was talking with Vincent and Pom Pom, who have the big cat act.
Our conversation turned to South Carolina, and I told them that I was from there. After a little more talking, I discovered that their son lives in Walterboro, my home town!
You could have knocked me over with a feather; what a small world!

In between the last two shows, Ryan's washer and dryer malfunctioned, so we had to do the final water gag of the day with wet clothes. That was a cold, not fun at all gag.

10/11/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I made a trip to the laundromat to wash and dry the water costumes from last night's performance.

Luckily during the day Mecho let us use the dryer that the show bought for him to use on his costumes from the tank act. Our schedules work out perfectly where our laundry is never in the way of his.

We had good audiences for all three shows today, and we did great business for the final two shows of the day.

After 3 weekends of playing Super Mario Bros. 3 in the dressing room, Julius Espana finally beat the game today, which was cause for much celebration.

Before the third show I gave the motivational speech as "El Payaso Loco", utilizing the clown luchador mask I bought in Mexico last year.

With my sudden, jerky movements, feats of uncontrolled rage, and constant screaming, I'm pretty sure I scared some inspiration into everyone.

10/12/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Ryan and I began coating the foam dog props with hardener. There was a steep learning curve involved with using the new chemical we bought, but by the end of the day we had a pretty good handle on it, and we managed to coat almost everything at least once.

By show time I was feeling absolutely worn out. I felt it was harder to get through the one show this evening than it was to get through the six shows this past weekend.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tuesday, September 29-Monday, October 5: Manassas, VA

9/29/15- Day Off!

This morning I went for a walk while I waited for the lot to be laid out. At the fairgrounds entrance I saw a sign that's redundancy made me laugh.

It took much longer than usual for our trailers to get parked today. It was almost 4 p.m. before my house was finally moved to its spot.

It had been drizzling rain all day, but in the late afternoon it really began to come down.

I braved the elements to go do laundry and go grocery shopping. I got absolutely soaked taking my groceries from the truck into my house, and my feet had been cold and wet since I left the lot a few hours before.
It was heavenly to take a hot shower and put on some dry clothes.

I was dismayed to discover that the sunlight over my bed was leaking the whole time it had been raining, so my sheets were drenched. And this time I can honestly say it wasn't because of me!

My girlfriend, Pamela, drove up to visit from North Carolina this evening. We made dinner, and then for dessert we enjoyed the brownies that she baked.

9/30/15- Day Off!

I woke up this morning feeling very sick. I had a sore throat and my whole body was aching. Luckily I had some medicine left over from the last time I was sick, and after taking it I felt somewhat human again.

Pamela and I went to have breakfast at a local family restaurant, and then we browsed through a huge used book and movie store and a nearby Halloween shop.

Back at the lot I used my truck to climb on top of my trailer and hopefully fix my leak with some caulk that I bought.
I was fortunate that it had stopped raining long enough for me to do that task. The sun even made a brief appearance!

Pamela and I took advantage of the change in weather to go to downtown Manassas and walk around for a bit.
Other than that, we just spent a relaxing night at home in the trailer.

10/1/15- Day Off!

Pamela left fairly early this morning, and once I woke up I went into town to fill my propane tanks and buy an electrical heater.
Mine crapped out on me at the beginning of the season, and this was the first time since then that I actually needed to use it again.

Tatiana made chicken soup for her family, and she was nice enough to invite me over to have some since I was still sick.
After we ate, Nico came over to my house for awhile so we could play video games.

In the evening I drove to Fairfax, VA to meet up with my friend, Cricket. He and I worked together as clowns on Ringling, and it was good to spend some time catching up with him.
We had dinner at the Hard Times Cafe, which had amazing chili mac (chili on top of spaghetti), and then we jumped around to a couple of different bars to talk some more. We would look for another spot when the place we were in became too loud and rowdy.

Although it doesn't get too much rowdier than these two hellions!

10/2/15- 7:30 p.m.

On the last show in Gaithersburg we broke the blueprints that cover up the hole in the top of the carpenter gag box.
During these days off Ryan had made new blueprints out of fabric, and he sewed velcro onto the back of them.

This morning he handed them over to me for painting. I didn't do nearly as intricate a job as Ryan did on the original blueprints, but I did my best, and I slipped in a few jokes that no one will ever see or appreciate except for us.

The almost constant rain we had been receiving compliments of Hurricane Joaquin made the lot an absolute muddy mess.

It took awhile for us to load in our props because we carried everything over so we could keep the wheels clean. That meant that we had to empty all of the props out of the carpenter box and then carry them over by hand so we could make the box itself light enough to carry over.

The only thing we didn't carry was the car, which is simply too heavy because of the engine. I found a relatively mud free path to the front of the tent, and we took the car in through the entrance, around the seating area, and into backstage.

Being out in the cold and drizzling rain for over an hour left me soaked and freezing, which was not a good way to be when trying to knock out the cold I developed.
I had some more of Tatiana's chicken soup and warmed up in my house until show time.

We had a great crowd for our opening night. I was worried that no one would show up here because of the weather, the apparent small size of the town, and the remoteness of the lot.
I was pleasantly surprised!

There were heat cannons going full blast in the tent, so while we were working we were nice and toasty. In the dressing rooms, not so much.

Something happened to the motor that is used to get Mecho's tank of water in and out of the ring, so Duo Exxtrem could not perform tonight.
Because of that we did finale immediately after the juggling act. I was totally fine with having a night off from doing the vacuum gag.

10/3/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

The rain finally slacked off this morning, but we still had cold, damp weather for our three shows.

The problem with the tank's motor was repaired last night, so we were back to doing the full performance today.

There was a small crowd at the first show, but my friend, Cricket, came to support us with some of his friends from the local burlesque scene.
Luckily we had good business for the other two shows.

During the second vacuum gag Ryan and I were cleaning off the bald head of a man in the audience. There just happened to be a "Wet Floor" sign nearby, so after Ryan squeegeed the man's head, I balanced the sign on top of his cranium. It got a good laugh from the crowd.

Everything was so disgusting backstage from all of the mud. What bugged me was that our towels for cleaning the water mat could not dry because of the weather.

10/4/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I went to Cracker Barrel for brunch; I was excited to go because it has been a long time since I have had breakfast there.

It didn't rain today, and the weather was slightly warmer. I'll take it!

The shows were ok today; nothing spectacular. At the end of the day I was just happy to be finished with another six pack.

10/5/15- 7:30 p.m.

The sun finally made an appearance today, so it was back to work on Pompeyo's dog props. I was frustrated that we lost an entire week of working on the props because of the bad weather sent over from Hurricane Joaquin.

I spent all day redoing work that we had done weeks ago. After we finished the crates that will serve as dog seats, Pompeyo asked us if we could make it so the two small seats fit inside the two big seats to make for easier packing.
I had to take the wooden borders off the four sides of the two small boxes, and then I cut and attached borders that were much thinner.

Ryan and I got it all done, but it was frustrating that we spent all day working and didn't make any real progress.

Our long period without seeing the sun must have made us forget proper protection. By show time Ryan and I both could feel the heat emanating from our sun burned faces.
I was worn out and drained from being outside all day; it was tough to get through the one show, and load out required extra effort as we still had to carry all our wheeled props out to our trailers to keep them from getting covered in mud.

Carl Bly was at the performance tonight, and he was nice enough to play along and be a good sport when we used him as a volunteer in the vacuum gag.
After the show I spent a little bit of time talking with him before I had to hit the road.

The 54 mile jump to Landover Hills, the next town, was an easy one. The road was a little bumpy and narrow right at the end of the trip, but besides that it was a piece of cake.

We are set up at the site of an old mall, and we are right next to a Walmart.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday, September 21-Monday, September 28: Gaithersburg, MD

9/21/15- 7:30 p.m.

Pamela and I visited a Super Buffet for lunch. Even though I was disappointed that the buffet didn't have a cape or fly around rescuing lesser buffets, it did have a huge selection of Asian food.
After eating we walked around inside the mall just down the street from the lot.

It was a rainy evening, which may have been the reason we had a smaller crowd for the show tonight. Luckily they weren't a bad audience.

Ryan cooked Chinese food for dinner, and he was nice enough to invite me and Pamela over to enjoy it with his family.

9/22/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Pamela and I went to downtown Gaithersburg to walk around and explore. We had lunch at a good Greek restaurant, and then we found a spot where we split a Nutella raspberry crepe for dessert.

Pamela works at a hair salon in North Carolina, and she was nice enough to cut my hair (or as she put it, "Fix the way the last woman mangled your hair") when we got back to the lot.

Some of the performers from the East Unit of Vazquez came to see our show tonight. We were told that after the show we needed to stick around so we could take a company photo in the ring.

Ryan, Carmelo, and I were waiting off to the side while everyone was being positioned. It took a lot longer than we felt was necessary to get everything set for the photo, and no one had placed us clowns yet.
We started making jokes about sneaking out before anyone noticed, and then I crawled under the carpet to hide.
It was very obvious where I was, because suddenly one part of the carpet had a big bulge under it with a pair of plaid covered legs sticking out from the edge.

Despite my hiding in plain sight, it took an incredibly long time for anyone to notice what I was doing. It got to the point where I felt pretty darned ridiculous lying on the dirty ring rubber with a carpet over me, but I was committed to making people laugh, and I stayed there until someone finally spotted me.

After the company photo we pink bellied the East Unit cast, because West Unit rules!!!!

9/23/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Pamela and I had lunch at La Madeleine, a French cafe that I am always happy to find in my travels.

We then went back to the Washingtonian Center to walk around the boardwalk and enjoy the beautiful weather.

We had a good audience for the show tonight. After finale we visited with Dick Flint, Dextre Tripp, Martin Elwell, and his wife, who all watched the performance.

Dick was talking about his job working as a historian for Feld Inc. His job is to go through the thousands of boxes in the now vacated Vienna offices to see what is worth saving, and what should be tossed out.
Some of the items he has found so far made me drool with geeky jealousy.
Or hunger. It may have been hunger.
I hadn't eaten in a few hours.

9/24/15- 7:30 p.m.

Pamela left this morning to head home to North Carolina. I was up fairly early so Ryan and I could resume work on Pompeyo's dog props.

I borrowed a belt sander from someone on the show, and I went over all of the wooden crates that will serve as dog seats. Once that task was done, I primed the four boxes.
Meanwhile Ryan was attaching foam to some of the props and carving it.
We worked all the way up until showtime, which left us feeling just a bit tired.

Our friends Pat, Thom, and Jim from the Freestate Clown Alley #30 came to watch our show this evening, and afterwards we had them over to Ryan's house for dinner.
We provided the food, and they provided the drinks, which turned out to be enough alcohol to kill a small army.
Luckily only I died.
Don't worry, I got better.

9/25/15- 7:30 p.m.

Again we spent all day working on the dog props. We sanded the foam props that Ryan had finished carving, and I was able to finish priming the wood props.

Some things happened at the end of our show tonight which really upset Ryan and caused me to stress out.
After work I went for a long walk to calm down and get away from the circus for awhile.

The fresh air and exercise were good for me, and once I got back to the lot things were much more in perspective, and the problems seemed a lot more manageable.

9/26/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had brunch at the Gazebo Cafe, which was a tiny little restaurant in downtown Gaithersburg.
My meal wasn't anything special, but I did have a very tasty blueberry latte to drink. A couple of days ago I tried their apple cider latte, and they told me they also have a sweet potato latte. That sounds very interesting....

Last weekend Visan bought a Nintendo and a Sega Genesis video game system at the flea market in front of the circus.
Today he brought his Nintendo into the men's dressing room to help break up the monotony of doing three shows. In between acts we all took turns playing Super Mario Bros. 3.

We had a small, dead audience for the first show, but the second show had a more lively crowd, and we had a fantastic audience for the final show of the day.

During the second show the cage of big cats almost tipped over as it was being pushed out of the curtain.
The prop guys were able to stop that from happening, but the cage did end up falling on our vacuum, which left a huge dent in the front of the prop.
I was able to bang out the dent a bit, but the handlebars are now permanently shifted to one side.
So much for using that prop again in the future....

9/27/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had brunch at Crepes A Go Go, the same place where Pamela and I had dessert during the week.
This was my first time getting a savory crepe (mine had egg, tomato, onion, avocado, and ham), and I liked it, but it is hard to beat fruit and Nutella in a crepe!

Right before the first show Emma surprised me with a gift of Winegums and Galaxy chocolate straight from England. That was nice motivation to get through the three shows!

Today was Sega Genesis day in the dressing room. We guys spent our free time playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter II.
It was so funny seeing everybody relive fond childhood memories by playing those classic games.

We had good audiences all day, but the same as yesterday, the last crowd was the best.

I wrote a rap song about our show that I used for the third show motivational speech. People seemed inspired afterwards, even though I'm about as white as you can get when I'm rapping.

9/28/15- 7:30 p.m.

We didn't do any more work on the dog props today, but I did run to Lowe's to pick up more wood that we can use when we work on them in the next town.

At the flea market last weekend Ryan bought one of those skateboards where you shake your hips back and forth to gain momentum.
Before the show he, Nico, and I played with it on the nice smooth asphalt in front of our trailers.

I was expecting a bigger crowd for our final show in Gaithersburg, but I think we tapped out the town with some of our big weekend business.

Before the vacuum gag I was walking under the seats to the front of the tent to wait for our entrance. As I was walking into the main walkway where the audience enters and exits the tent, there was a woman pulling down her son's pants so he could pee against the tent's side wall.

A few of things....

1) This wasn't a toddler. This was maybe an eight year old boy.

2) I've seen people take their kids to pee under the seats. It's bad enough they do it under the seats towards the back of the tent where there is no one walking around, but this was right in the main entranceway, fully lit, and in plain view of everyone!

3) If they had gone just a little farther, they could have gone to the bathrooms. You know, like humans....

I stopped and gawked at the woman in disbelief before saying, "You know, we have bathrooms right over......"
I then stopped myself before continuing, "Never mind, keep right on doing what you're doing."

People never cease to amuse me.

Ryan and I had to wait for awhile to leave the lot in Gaithersburg because we had an RV in front of our trailers that took a long time to leave.
Luckily we only had 43 miles to go to Manassas, VA, the next town.

I'm very happy we made the jump at night; it would have been a nightmare drive in the morning with traffic.

Our lot in Manassas is another fairgrounds, although not as big and nice as the one in Gaithersburg.