Tuesday, March 31, 2009

He's Making A List, Checking It Twice

Tuesday, March 31: Redfield, AR-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
I woke up this morning when I heard a torrential downpour of rain beating on my metal roof. There was also thunder and lightning; the whole thing did not make me look forward to getting out of bed. Imagine my great relief when I checked my clock and saw that I had another hour before my call time.
When I woke up, the rain had subsided, but shortly after hitting the road it resumed. It definitely slowed our progress on the 125 mile jump. Jan and I had a good conversation about the different shows she has worked on; she told me her favorite clowns were Otto Griebling and Ryan and me.
It rained all the way up until when we got to the lot, and then it stopped. Chris, our 24 Hour Man, told me that it was supposed to clear up and dry off by this afternoon, but I didn't believe him after looking at the overcast sky.
Much to my surprise when I woke up from my morning nap, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky! I wasn't the only one that took a little nap in the sun.

We were on a grass lot, and even though the sun was out, some mud had been stirred up by the show trucks this morning. Luckily it wasn't that bad in the back yard or in the tent.  
This afternoon I went for a walk around the city park where we were performing before Ryan and I unloaded our props.
We gave the sink a good cleaning; it got pretty dirty yesterday from the dirt on the rocky lot.
I wasn't expecting big crowds today since they didn't bring all the seat wagons into the tent. The first show was indeed sparse, but the crowd was having a good time.
I met a blog reader during Intermission, Joanne, and her son, Billy. See, I did write about you!
The second show had a great crowd; they were having a great time and loved the show. We got our first ever big laugh for the Blazing Saddles "cracker crooker" joke that I make in the shovel gag.
There was a gnome like man wearing bib overalls sitting right in front of the ring that was loving everything Ryan and I did. In the warm up I pretended to cough up sawdust, much to his amusement.
With a big smile on his face, he waved his finger at me, much like I would imagine Santa Claus would do as he threatened to put me on the naughty list.
When I told Ryan about the incident, he got a big kick out of it and found every opportunity he could in the shovel gag to use that move on me.
I was really looking forward to meeting and greeting with the enthusiastic crowd during Intermission, but it was totally ruined by some punk teenagers. I let them get to me and I got so worked up over it that I was on edge for the rest of the show.
In the sink gag I was inside the sink at one point when Ryan pointed out that the foot pedal wasn't attached to the fire extinguisher.
He stalled by doing some extra bits with a pipe while I tried to fix the problem, but I couldn't see an easy solution.
I got so angry at myself over not hooking up the foot pedal until we got backstage and I realized that it wasn't my fault at all. An eye bolt came undone and that caused the problem.
It was still frustrating though; that audience would have eaten up the water part of the gag.
After tear down I drove Jan's RV off the lot. The nice day was deceptive, the lot was still potentially hazardous as far as vehicles getting stuck, so everything was moved to a parking lot right next to the lot.

April 1-Heber Springs, AR April 2-Ash Flat, AR April 3-Mt. Home, AR

Love My Ma, Love My Pa, But I Just Love Ol' Arkansas!

Monday, March 30: Murfreesboro, AR-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
A new state on our tour today, Arkansas! The drive this morning went on forever. I think it was longer than the 75 miles listed on the route slip.
We were playing out in the middle of nowhere. It was just a rocky lot with lots of rock hills scattered around. Supposedly we were going to play further down the street, but if we had pulled onto that lot we would have sunk into mud.
My sore throat is gone, but now I am starting to get the other symptoms of a cold, including stuffy nose and weariness.
I slept for a long time this morning/early afternoon; it wasn't a very comfortable sleep unfortunately.
I finally dragged myself out of bed in time to meet up with Dave and Cherie Gregg. They have a couple of travel days to get to their next stand of promoting the Gold Unit of Ringling, so they stopped by to visit again. This will probably be the last time we see them for awhile.
Ryan and I talked with them for awhile before we had to unload our props and start getting ready.
Today was the day for there being no water on the lot. That is understandable since this also appears to be the lot where Jesus lost his sandals. Luckily I had filled my buckets the night before, so I was able to take a bucket bath.
There was also a fire truck on the lot providing water, so I had no problem getting water for the sink gag either.
We didn't have very big crowds today. The night show was decent, but the afternoon show was mighty sparse.
Once again it was like pulling teeth to get a good reaction for warm up. Also, this was one of those towns where they loved the shovel gag and were luke warm for the sink gag instead of the other way around.
Perhaps they could relate to the shovel gag more since this town has a diamond mine; we must have struck a familiar chord with these people.
I was worried about the weather between shows. It had been overcast all day, and before the second show started I felt a few drops of rain. My fears were ungrounded though, it was a beautiful night.
The people we met in the second Intermission were cracking me up. They were a wily bunch; the funniest was this portly little boy that commanded Ryan to sign his forehead. Ryan wrote "Kick Me" on the kid's head.
The boy then turned to his family and proudly said, "He signed his name on my head!"
At first he wouldn't believe his family when they told him what it actually said, but when he found out, he got all worked up and went into a Jackie Gleason-esque tirade that was cracking us up.
The funniest part was when the boy (who must have been all of 9) said he was going to call his lawyer.
After the show Ryan, Courtney, and I went to grab a bite to eat with Dave and Cherie, and then I attempted to go to bed quickly in preparation for our big drive in the morning...I failed.

March 31 Redfield, AR, April 1 Heber Springs, AR, April 2 Ash Flat, AR

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You Da Bell? No! Idabel!

March 29: Idabel, OK-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
My sore throat was in full force this morning. A couple of cups of hot coffee from the cookhouse helped soothe it and wake me up.
It was only 40 or so odd (very odd) miles to Idabel this morning. As were driving along, we were greeted with a glorious sight, the sun rising!
It was a beautiful day today, with not a cloud in the sky. The lot was relatively mud free too. Oh joy of joys!
I went for a little walk into town; not much to report. I found a gas station and that was about it.
The tent was packed for the first show today, but it was like pulling teeth to get them to make any noise for warm up. The gags got decent laughs, but we just did not succeed in getting their energy up.
Raul Olivares showed up today. He is doing a juggling act out of make up in the first half and a wind up elephant/dog clown act in the second half. He also took over the coloring books!
I guess the concessions manager told him that they would have to talk to us about handing over book sales, which made us laugh. We turned them over without a second thought and then I gave a "Hallelujah" and a few calls of "Praise Jesus". I figured it was fitting on the Sabbath and all...
Right before the start of the second show I checked the route slip to see what time we needed to wake up in the morning, how many miles the jump is, etc, when I noticed a note saying "No water on the lot tomorrow".
That was a bit of a downer, and then when we went out for warm up, once again the audience would not make any noise for our "finely tuned buffoonery".
The final straw was in the shovel gag. Some new crew guys showed up today, and I guess one of them is an aspiring Ziegfeld. They put him at the light board, and he ran every conceivable light cue you could think of during the course of the shovel gag: black outs, flashing lights, moving lights, everything but the lights just being on so you could see the gag. I even made a comment over the microphone (in authentic frontier gibberish of course) about the "side winding cracker crooker that forgot to pay the light bill. Nobody's gonna be able to see the comedy (then I turned back to the light board) hint hint".
I guess I should have translated it into Spanish...
This was just a weird day for performing; perhaps the people of Idabel seek something a little more high brow and cerebral than our special brand of chicanery. 
After tear down Ryan and I made sure all our water buckets were filled for tomorrow's no water town.
We joined a group that went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was nice; an even bigger group from the show was coming in just as we were leaving.
I retired early tonight, I needed to catch up on sleep and give a rest to my aching neck.

March 30-Murfreesboro, AR March 31-Redfield, AR April 1-Hell (April Fool's! Heber Springs, AR [ok, maybe I wasn't that far off]) 

Weren't We Here Already?

March 28: Hugo, OK-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
I knew today would be a good day when I woke up and couldn't feel my feet.
It was absolutely freezing in my room and it wasn't much warmer outside.
I woke up early today so I could get a lot accomplished in Hugo. When I started out on my journey, I noticed that there were snow flakes falling here and there. Not nearly enough to stick to the ground though.
I had breakfast and coffee at Angie's Circus City Diner to start off my day. Next I walked down to the library to peruse their circus section. What a beautiful library; I spent a couple of hours at a desk poring over domestic and foreign circus books, programs, and old issues of White Tops, Circus Report, and Spectacle.
I went back to the lot to see about unloading our props, but Ryan was still asleep. I was going to walk to get some lunch, and just at that time, my friend Dudley pulled up in a car with his daughter, Carol, and her husband, Rich.
Dudley gave us the grand tour of Hugo the last time we were here, and he really took care of us.
Dudley, Carol, and Rich took me to the Busy Bee for lunch. Busy Bee is a must do if you ever go to Hugo; boy oh boy are their burgers good!
Back at the lot I hurried to get props set and to get into makeup for the shows.
I was surprised by the reaction Ryan and I got from the crowd for warm up. They just did not seem into it at all; not at all the "homecoming" reaction I was expecting.
I made Casey and Ryan laugh after the act when I remarked, "I'm sorry, I was under the impression that Hugo LIKED the circus."
Perhaps the weather had a part to play. It was cold and dreary out, and the audience had to slosh through mud on the lot.
Maybe Hugo is so used to the circus it doesn't spark the same enthusiastic response that we get in other cities.
Most likely, Ryan and I just suck.
There were a lot of visitors at the first show: David Rawls, the former Kelly Miller owner, and his wife; Kevin Ryan, a Ringling clown from the 80's who moved on to clown for Culpepper and Kelly Miller; and Dudley, Rich, and Carol.
There was some excitement after the elephant act of the first show. Eric, the youngest flyer, was fooling around backstage and tripped over the stairs to the bandwagon. He fell face down just as the elephants were coming through the curtain.
Apparently one of the ladies stepped right by his head; he's very lucky to be alive.
As I mentioned earlier, the lot was a mess. There was a fair amount of mud, and there were spots of cement and rocks in random places around the ring.
I fell on one of those in the sink gag; nothing like a rock to the kidneys.
After the show Rich, Carol, and Dudley took Ryan and I out to eat the Cedar Shed. We ate so much, the portions were huge and delicious. We bought Dudley's dinner to repay him for his kindness and generosity whenever he's in town.
We retired to Dudley's house to watch some circus videos and chat. Rich was telling us all about his career as an animator, which was really interesting, but I was so beat from my long day that I could barely keep my eyes open.
I can feel a sore throat coming on; not surprising after running around screaming in the 32 degree temperature.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Big Mouth Copeland

Friday, March 27: Commerce, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning's drive was 60 miles. When we got to the lot we discovered that it was next to a Wal Mart. Jan and I stopped to do some shopping before we went to park.
The lot was a muddy mess; most of the vehicles had to be pulled on, but we had no problem getting to our spot.
In the early afternoon I went for a walk and found a Goodwill where I picked up a couple of Bill Cosby books for $1 a piece. Score!
I then went to lunch at a restaurant across the street from the lot. I ate a lot and was feeling drowsy all the way up until show time. The dreary weather didn't help matters at all.
It rained hard for the first half of the first show; we had a small crowd too.
I thought yesterday's mud was bad, today's was worse! There was strong wind blowing as well, and by the start of the second show it was pretty darn cold outside.
The crowd for the second show didn't give me much hope judging by their reactions in warm up, but they loved the sink gag. They were cracking up at everything.
The show was moving tonight so we could get off the muddy lot and get to Hugo, OK for our Saturday stand.
Once again I had no problem getting off the lot without getting stuck. I had to open my big mouth though and say, "With this run of good luck, we are set to get bogged down soon."
That soon came sooner than I expected. When we got into Hugo there was no one on the lot except for Chris, the 24 Hour Man. He had all his lights off, and I wasn't sure where to go since Jan took me into town a different way from the arrows.
I drove around to the back of the lot and was going to turn around and try again from the front, but I saw Chris walking towards us waving his flashlight. I took this as a sign to come on ahead, so I drove right into a huge puddle on the edge of the lot and got stuck. It was frustrating to say the least.
Apparently the trailers and RVs were going to be parking down the street at Winter Quarters to wait and be spotted in the morning and all the show trucks would be spotted on the lot tonight. I didn't receive that bit of information. It is a tight lot next to the old glove factory, the original lot we were going to play on was in even worse shape than this one.
I ended up sitting around for about two hours waiting on my house to show up. It finally arrived close to 2:00 a.m., so I retired to my freezing room and crawled under the blankets, ready for sleep to segue into a new day.

March 28-Hugo, OK March 29-Idabel, OK March 30-Murfreesboro AR

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Van" Down By The River

Thursday, March 26: Van, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It was only a 30 mile drive today, but we still had to be up by 5:30 a.m. The reason was that today's lot was next to a school, and unless we arrived before 7:00 a.m., we would have to wait until 10:00 a.m. to be spotted.
When we got to the lot, there was a line out to the road of show vehicles waiting to park. We arrived around 6:45 a.m. and were one of the last to be parked for a little while.
According to Chris, the 24 Hour Man, the lot was a mess because it had "rained like a cow pissing on a flat rock."
We had no problem getting to our spot, but a couple of the seat wagons and big trucks got bogged down in the mud and had to be pulled out via tractor.
Chris must have done some smooth talking, because there were vehicles still being parked well after the 7:00 a.m. dead line. My house got bogged down in the mud, so I spent some time talking to Casey, Nat, and Lucky while they got it situated. In doing so, I got my shoes and socks soaked.
The first thing I did in my room was change foot wear and dry my feet so as to avoid the "goof rot".
After my morning nap I went for a walk and got some lunch. I didn't have much drive to do anything today. It wasn't raining, but it was overcast, and the lot was just a huge mud pit due to all the traffic.
We did good business today, especially at the second show. It was a jam packed house, and they had a lot of energy. 
I had a good time meeting and greeting during the second Intermission. There were all these middle school kids at the show that would say the dumbest things. Ryan and I were ruthless in our rebuttals.
One girl was pretending to be afraid of me. I asked her friends, "What's her problem? Besides her hair, I mean..."
Another girl said, "You're hot!"
I replied, "Thanks. I'd take more comfort from that if you weren't 12."
The kicker was when we were waiting for the sink gag. A girl came up and looked at our props and said, "Ah ha! Those aren't real shovels!"
I replied, "They're pipes!"
Let me tell you, it was honor to meet the Valedictorian of the Van school district.
We didn't have finale for the second show; I'm guessing they wanted to "get the show on the road" since we were moving all the vehicles off the lot tonight.
I was worried that Jan's RV would get bogged down, but thanks to my mad driving skills, we got off the lot with no problem.
Others were not so lucky, as of this posting, they are still hauling vehicles out of the mud.
After I got Jan's RV parked on the school parking lot, Rae, Eric, and I went to Sonic for a late night snack.

March 27-Commerce, TX March 28-Hugo, OK March 29-Idabel, OK

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Greece-ed Lightning!

Wednesday, March 25: Athens, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Another hefty jump this morning: 88 miles. I was feeling it on the drive; I dozed off for one quick second. It scared the hell out of me, but I was alert from then on. Looks like it is time to start drinking coffee in the morning.
I was happy that my house showed up pretty soon after Jan and I had arrived on the lot. 
The past two days I have been going, going, going, without much rest, so I made sure to take it easy and get a good nap in this morning.
I spied a laundromat next to the lot this morning when we arrived, so I set out to walk there and put a dent in our massive load of dirty clothes. As soon as I was off the lot, Nat drove by and informed me that the laundry close by was a drop off dry cleaners. D'oh!
She did offer a ride to another laundromat that she had just come from, so I grabbed all of our dirty clothes and sallied forth.
Luckily we found a laundromat closer than the one Nat had been to. She dropped me off and I accomplished what I had set out to do. The great thing is, it's Ryan turn to do laundry next time!
It started to rain while I was at the laundromat, luckily Nat picked me up and brought me back to the lot.
It drizzled all the way until show time, and then while Ryan and I were doing warm up, it started to pour. It rained heavily for the first half of the show, and then it regressed to a soft shower for the rest of the show. We also got a little thunder and lightening.
By the middle of the first show, the rain had stopped completely and the sun came out...just in time to set!
Harry Kingston and his wife came to visit again today. Harry brought a free roll of some new sweaters and some photos he had taken of our gags in Jasper, TX.
Both shows today were about 3/4 full. The sink gags got a lot of laughs which made me happy. I tried playing one bit a different way, and I am starting to find my groove with it, which is always fun.
In the first show during the shovel gag, John Moss made an aside to inform us, "Short horse act."
When Ryan asked what he said, I made him laugh by replying, "He said you're a horse sack".
After tear down Rae and I set out to find a Sonic that was theoretically close. We walked way past where it was supposed to be, so we turned around and luckily found somewhere else to eat so our trip would not be in vain.

March 26: Van, TX March 27: Commerce, TX March 28: Hugo, OK

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photos From Kelly Ballagh

Taken in Royse City, TX

Shaving the mud show way!

It's show time!

Clown Alley

"Ya side windin' cracker crooker!"


Tuesday, March 24: Royse City, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning we had a humdinger of a drive by recent standards: 100 miles. Even though I blew the arrows once, I was soon back on track and had no further problems. My house showed up at the lot not too long after I did, which made me very happy.
We were right by the Interstate on a very uneven lot. There was a lot of wild grass and a fair amount of dirt as well. The day was overcast when we arrived and there were showers every now and then. We all feared the worst, but by 2:00 p.m. the sun was out and shining and the day was beautiful.
Kelly Ballagh, who I worked with on Ringling for 2 years, came to visit today. I haven't seen Kelly since last January, and it is always great to hang out with him. He brought Ryan and I a free roll of Easter candy and Dr. Pepper. Whoo hoo!
Kelly and I went to lunch at Denny's, and then back at the lot Ryan and I unpacked our props while hanging out with Kelly.
Kelly watched our first show, which I was almost late to because I had gotten so far behind while chatting with him. We didn't have a very good crowd for the first show, but they had waken up more by the time the sink gag rolled around.
The ground was pretty rough to run around on. When Ryan did his toothpick fall, he shot off to an angle when his head went in one of the "potholes".
For the second day in a row the generator was parked backwards, making it impossible to hear the show unless you are right backstage. Because of that and a shortened elephant act, Ryan missed finale. I would have missed it too had I been a moment later.
Kelly stuck around until the start of the second show. I had more visitors arrive then. Chrissy Ryan, who wants to be a Ringling clown, and her mom came to see the evening show.
The tent was jam packed; they had people shoved in every conceivable nook and cranny. It was nice having such a big energetic audience after the dismal first show.
Intermission was a mad house; we definitely did good business today. We got Nat to film the sink gag for us since we could tell we would probably get a good reaction from the crowd; luckily we were right!
Tear down was a lot smoother tonight than it was yesterday. We packed up our props into the Alley before taking down the curtain, which got our stuff out of the way of the flyers. It worked out very well.
Chrissy's family took me out to dinner tonight, which was very nice. They are a very fun family, they had me cracking up the whole time.
I got back to the lot just in time to climb aboard my house before they drove it off the lot. I guess they don't want to take any chances of being bogged down in the grass overnight. Last year the show couldn't play here because the concrete lot was flooded when they arrived.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bridgeport Is The Devil!

Monday, March 23: Bridgeport, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Back to one day stands and early mornings! 5:30 a.m. came WAY too early!
The drive to Bridgeport seemed to go on forever. Apparently this city isn't too fond of the circus; they wouldn't let the 24 Hour Man put up any arrows in town, and the fire department that we were next to made us cram onto the lot.
Since there were no arrows to the lot, this morning I acted as an arrow and waved trucks in so Chris and Tavo could set everything.
I went for a little walk once the last truck had shown up to the lot. I found a gas station where I got some breakfast.
After a nap Ryan, Rae, and I walked over to a BBQ restaurant for lunch. Rae was flirting with the teenaged girl behind the counter and asked her if she was coming to the circus. She said, "No I'm afraid of clowns".
Rae laughed and told her that I was a clown. She said, "I'm sorry, I just don't like clowns."
I replied, "That's ok, I don't like people that work in BBQ restaurants."
From then on I let her have it. My favorite line was, "Don't worry. I have a cousin that's afraid of clowns...yeah, he's 5."
I stopped short of telling her that she shouldn't be afraid, since she wore as much make up as I do.
After lunch I went to the Post Office and mailed my tax information to my accountant. Whew. I also got a couple of money orders.
Back at the lot Ryan had just finished cutting Casey's hair, so I had him give me a trim. After that and setting our props, it was show time.
We had a small crowd for the first show; they just weren't into it. Ryan and I found it hard to get into it as well. We were drained and just couldn't muster up much energy.
The second show had a really big crowd, but the people were very aggravating, especially when we were meeting and greeting with them. We were both surprised when the sink gag got the best reaction we have had in awhile.
10 year old Johnny Moss has been getting a little too big for his britches lately by calling Ryan and I "wimps" and "Beavis and Butthead".
His dad has been warning him about clown revenge, but he just kept on pushing our buttons.
After finale of the second show Ryan and I gave Johnny the double whammy. I pied him in the face and Ryan soaked him with a seltzer bottle.
To quote Johnny, "That was harsh."
Tear down was a headache because the incline motorcycle got in our way and slowed us down. Because of that we didn't get to load our own props into the box truck, which didn't make us happy. Friedman didn't even get his props in the truck before it was driven away!
I went to dump my trash before I took my make up off. As I was throwing it in the dumpster I heard someone honking their horn. I turned around to see Tavana behind the wheel of her motor home waving her arms.
I had to dig my trash out of the dumpster and throw it away in another one just because the Fire Marshal in this town has a bug up his butt about the circus.
To prove this further, we had to move all the show vehicles off the lot and next to the park across the street in case it rains. They didn't want their precious grass torn up. What a pain.
I hope all the fire station's Dalmatians are so inbred they can't walk straight.

March 24-Royse City, TX March 25-Athens, TX March 26-Van, TX

Steve & Ryan Make Up

The Adventures Of Steve & Ryan — Makeup, I know, it sounds a little strange... from Steve Wilson on Vimeo.

A great video from Ryan's cousin, taken in Frisco, TX

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crouching Tiger, Sleeping Moron

Sunday, March 22: Frisco, TX-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
I went for a walk this morning to get some lunch. On the way Jessi called me; it was nice to hear from her and see how the Culpepper tour is going.
After getting lunch I was stuffed and it was difficult to get motivated to do anything.
We had a huge crowd for our first show. I couldn't believe how many people showed up for an early afternoon show on Sunday.
I took a little nap between shows outside the Alley. This photo, taken by Casey's brand new camera, shows why that is a dangerous thing to do in the backyard of a circus.

The second show had a big crowd as well; Frisco was good to us in that respect. Dick Monday, Tiffany Riley, and their kids came to the show, and a former Shrine clown named Bill Gowan was also in attendance.
Ryan's family came to watch the tent tear down; all in all, it was a big day (and town) for visitors.
The second show Intermission was a lot of fun. There were a lot of cool people to play with and off of, and one little girl was really cute. She gave me a hug, kissed my neck, and told me that she loved me.
After tear down Ryan and I went with Casey, Nat, and Georgia to a sushi restaurant. The service was pretty lousy, but we ate until we thought we would burst. We ran up over a $200 bill!
When we were leaving we ran into Tavana, Danny, Arwen, Lucky, Vickie, and Bill Gowan; we all decided to adjourn to an Italian restaurant for coffee and dessert. There we ran into the Mosses.
I don't think I am going to be able to eat again for a week!

March 22-Bridgeport, TX March 23-Royse City, TX March 24-Athens, TX

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Photos From Shepherd, TX

Photos of us from my friend and current Culpepper Merriweather clown, Jessi Hoffschildt:


I'm Feelin' "Frisco" Tonight!

Saturday, March 21: Frisco, TX- 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.
I love sleeping in! I went to lunch at Firehouse Subs today and grabbed another delicious shake from Go Go Burger. Today, a Zinger shake!
Ryan's grandparents were in town visiting his aunt and uncle, so they all came to visit today. They watched the first show and hung out afterwards as well. Ryan's little cousin, Brandon, was having me recap the gags for him after the show. He then was reminding his mom of everything that happened. He made us all laugh when he told her about how in the shovel gag we shot arrows and found gold in the Ringmaster's butt. Ah, out of the mouths of babes...
Gary Rae and his son, Cody, came to visit and see the second show. Gary was a 1972 Clown College graduate and worked on circuses for 13 years. His son Cody used to clown with him and is now wanting to get back into it and pursue Ringling. I met them both at the Clown College Reunion last September; they are good guys.
We had good crowds all day. I didn't even get winded by there being three shows, although we did designate the third show as being the "wacky show".
We were acting like a couple of fools during the coloring book pitch; then in the introduction to the sink gag I was being constantly heckled by two girls while I was doing the laughing bit. I continued to laugh and snort until I just stopped and yelled, "Shut up!"
Ryan lost it and even John started to crack a bit during his talking. The whole third sink gag was just a knock down, drag out gag in general.
One of Casey and Natalie's dogs kept escaping from the pen during the last two shows. That ensured lots of excitement and chasing in the back yard.
Tiger "drive bys" have also been a source of excitement. The tigers get parked right outside the Alley right after Casey's act, and lately they have decided to spray their noxious urine in our general direction. Just yesterday Ryan was standing and talking to someone and a tiger sprayed right behind him. It was a very close call. I imagine it would have the same effect on humans as the creature blood from the movie "Alien" had.
There was a soccer match going on next door to us during the last show. At the conclusion of it there were fireworks, which spooked the animals. People ran over to make sure the horses didn't escape, and the elephant handlers ran over and put the elephants through some of their behaviors to keep their minds off the noise. I thought that was a really cool idea.
Casey, Nat, Ryan and I went to the Irish pub next to the lot for dinner. We got some appetizers and drinks, and part of our tab was taken care of by the generous $30 gift certificate that Ryan's family got for us. 
The plan was to hang out more at the Cainan back yard, but we called it a night after just a short visit. We were all pretty bushed.

March 22-Frisco, TX, March 23-Bridgeport, TX, March 24- Royce City, TX

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blue Wang

Friday, March 20: Frisco, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It was nice sleeping in this morning. When I got up I decided to set out and find the Half Price Books in town.
My GPS said it was a 4 mile walk, but that didn't deter me...until I realized that it was taking me on the Dallas Parkway. I tried to take a side street to bypass the bridges and ramps, but that just sent me in the direction of some train tracks.
I recreated a scene from "Stand By Me" and crossed a little train track bridge before running through a field and climbing over barbed wire. When I got past all those obstacles, I saw that I would still have to go on the parkway.
When I tried to call a cab, I was unsuccessful at locating a company in Frisco via my phone. I braved running on the parkway to get back to the lot. I was also attacked by a rabbit.
Needles to say I was a little frustrated with Frisco before the morning was even properly underway.
After a nice shower I was in a better humor. I set out exploring around the lot trying to find the number for a local cab company. I finally found it at a restaurant called Go Go Burger. Since they were so helpful (and because their menu sounded yummy) I decided to park it for lunch.
I got the Go Green Burger (portobello mushrooms and other veggies) and a Twinkee shake.
When I was done eating I called a cab and got a lift to the book store. I was a little disappointed in their selection, but I did buy a Christopher Moore book and a Spike Jones CD for myself and a Sidney Shelton book for Jan.
I walked across the street to the huge mall and did a little clothes shopping. After I was sure that I had spent enough money for the day I caught a cab back to the lot.
Ryan and I were slow to get going on unpacking our props today; we finally got it done not too long before show time.
Since we are on a concrete lot for this engagement, there are no stakes again. The flying act is not working. In its place the Fernandez family is doing a trampoline act. An incline motorcycle act was also brought in for the Frisco date.
In the first show I knocked Ryan's wig off in the shovel gag. We made a funny bit of it; even someone with the show asked if we had planned for it to happen.
The trampoline act was very short, especially in comparison to the trapeze act; I had to rush to be on time for the sink gag.
Today was one of those days where the first show had a better crowd than the second show. 
I was feeling a lot lazier today since we are here for two more days. I was dragging my feet on putting props and costumes away since we don't have to pack them for moving tonight.
After the last show Ryan, Rae, and I caught a cab to the mall to see Watchmen. It was interesting...to say the least. I enjoyed it more than Ryan and Rae did, but the movie did lose me at the off ramp towards the end.
It was a long movie; we didn't get out until 1:30 a.m. We got the same cab driver on the ride back, and he guilt tripped us about not tipping him to his satisfaction the first go around.
When we paid him at the end of our trip, he looked at all the money we gave him and asked in a snarky fashion, "What is this? My tip?", to which Ryan replied, "Yeah, we were tired of your bitching."
Winning friends and influening people the Ryan Combs way! 

Friday, March 20, 2009

"I'm An Hawsome Guy"

Thursday, March 19: White Settlement, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It was a 5:30 a.m. call this morning...ugh. When we got into town I was wide awake. I walked around Central Park, which is where the show was playing, and I even found a bunch of ducks to follow around.
When Ryan got in I alerted him to the good news that I found a Half Priced Books on my GPS about 3 miles from the lot.
Since both of us were wide awake, we set out to find it. Apparently the store was in the process of moving to a new location, so most of the books I was interested in buying (performing arts and biographies) were already packed away. I did buy a nice Monty Python book though.
There was a mall close to the book store, so Ryan and I spent a good couple of hours shopping. I bought one nice shirt from Buckle, and that was it.
I did come very close to buying a pet rabbit. He was so darned cute; I would have named him Efram.

Good sense prevailed though; my living quarters would be a little uncomfortable with a caged or free range rabbit running around.
After getting some lunch at the food court, we walked back to the lot.
I took a little nap but woke up early to say good bye to Dave and Cherie. They came to hang out, but I was leaving the mall when they were going out to lunch with Courtney.
I got so far behind right before show time. I put off setting a lot of things up, and then I was in a mad dash to get ready before the first show.
One of my blog fans, Judith, came to the first show today. She brought me some delicious Pepperidge Farm cookies. Clearly she knows the way to my heart is anything sweet!
I made her laugh by sneaking a cookie out to finale and eating it in front of her.
Ryan and I were discussing comedy today during the shows. I was wondering how I could do bits exactly the same every show and some times the audience would laugh and sometimes they wouldn't. 
It is always interesting to me the difference in every audience, whether from town to town or even from show to show. Looks like I have a thesis if I ever go to college.
I was relieved that the two bits I was concerned about did get laughs in the second show.
My day didn't seem complete today because Casey was sick and feeling pretty crummy.
The show must go on of course, but I missed my daily dose of wise cracks and chicanery between acts.
We were moving tonight to avoid morning Dallas/Ft. Worth traffic. What a pain in the butt the drive was; very complicated.
When we had just arrived in Frisco, John Moss called to remind me that we had been in three different towns in one day. We were in Crandall this morning, White Settlement in the afternoon, and Frisco late at night.
Luckily Jan and I arrived safe and sound and I had the prospect of three mornings of sleeping in to look forward to!

March 20-22: Frisco, TX


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yahoo News Photos

Photos by Jessica Rinaldi from Crandall, TX



Here are a couple of photos from my new buddy, Daniel, in Jefferson, TX.
Thanks Daniel!

Hail To The King!

Wednesday, March 18: Crandall, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Thankfully it was only a 30 mile jump this morning. We were only 22 miles or so from Dallas, and the lot was alongside a major highway. The downside was it was a rocky lot.
Nat was nice enough to give Ryan and I a ride to run errands this morning. She and Ryan hit a Bank of America, and then we went to a mall where I was able to go to a Verizon store and get a new Internet card. Whoo hoo!
Across the street from the mall I spotted a Half Price Books. Half Price Books is an awesome chain of stores that I found in Texas during my days with Ringling. They have tons of books (including hard to find circus and vaudeville ones) at great prices. Between the two of us Ryan and I spent close to $140 on books about the classic comedians. If given the opportunity I could have spent all day and a week's pay in that store.
We went to a Wal Mart so Nat could fill her propane tank and get a new tire, and then we headed back to the lot.
Ryan and I got our props set up, but I was itching to get back online. Luckily the card works with no problems. Now if I can just avoid dropping my computer from my top bunk again, I'll be fine.
There was a photographer, Jessica, from Rueters that was at the lot all day long working on a photo story that will run during our Dallas/Ft. Worth dates. I met up with her before the show and let her photograph me getting into make up. We had a nice conversation as well.
Pretty standard crowds for the shows today. Half to 3/4 full for the first show and 3/4 to full for the second show. Neither crowd seemed to find us particularly funny though. Hopefully we aren't slipping. It might be a good idea to get some video of the gags so we can see how we're doing.
The flying act was back in the show today, so we were back to a normal length show.
Alex Acero, who I worked with my fourth year on Ringling, was at the second show tonight. He is the clown on Carson and Barnes this year. He invited me to see their dress rehearsal tomorrow, so I am going to try and hitch a ride; it should be fun.
Dave and Cherie Gregg also showed up to watch the second half of the last show.
A couple of the show kids did their interpretation of our gags backstage. It was funny to see how well they had picked up on our bits and mannerisms. 
I was packing away the sink at the end of the second show when all of a sudden I heard John Moss announce Rae juggling 7 rings, which is the final trick of the show before finale. I was in my t shirt and clown boxers!
I jumped in the Alley, threw on my shirt and nose, and then I heard Rae taking his final style. I threw on my overalls and grabbed my wig and cowboy hat as I jumped out of the Alley.
As I ran to the back curtain I threw my wig on and pulled my cowboy hat down to my eyes to cover any hair that might be sticking out of my skull cap.
As I was going through the curtain I was pulling my ears through the ear holes of the skull cap. It was quite an adrenaline rush at the end of the show, but not something I really want to go through again.
After the show Dave, Cherie, Courtney, and I drove to a little Italian restaurant that Casey recommended. He got them to stay open later than they usually do so we could eat there. We met Casey and his family there as well as some friends of his that were visiting.
The restaurant had great rolls, and the food was pretty good too; generous portions as well.

March 19- White Settlement, TX, March 20-22- Frisco, TX

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's The Wills Point?!

Tuesday, March 17: Wills Point, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
I was so sleepy on this morning's drive. It was nice to stop for gas and stretch my legs a bit; it really woke me up.
We were on a high school parking lot today; it was asphalt, but it was nice and smooth at least. Chris, our 24 Hour Man, told me this morning that we were supposed to be on a field next to the school, but due to the 6 inches of rain the town had received, it was a mess.
Ryan went to work tarring the generator car's roof today. He theoretically fixed the problem that led to our leaks last Friday. I joined him up there for awhile, it was nice and relaxing, even though the climb up there was a little frightening.
We went for a walk to get some lunch and we had a nice talk about the future. We are both so happy on this show, and we are convinced that the circus life style is for us.
I spent a lot of time working on my taxes today. I went through my receipts and itemized all my deductions.
We had some big changes to the show today. First the Fuscos weren't here, so we were down three acts. Rae did his juggling act in the second half and Patsy did her hula hoop act. Rae really impressed me with his juggling; I had no idea he was so good.
The flying act didn't work today. Since we were on the school's parking lot, the show couldn't drive stakes into the ashpalt. Everything was tied off to show vehicles. Because of that, the trapeze couldn't set up.
All in all the show was 20 minutes shorter than usual. It was great having so much time between shows and being done so early (by comparison) tonight.
With the extra time came the price of having to hustle a little more during the show. My free time was even less because Ryan and I were making squibs for the gun.
We had a decent sized crowd at the first show, and a huge crowd at the second show. Manny Casalino, who was a clown on Clyde Beatty for 9 years and has been in the circus business all his life, came to visit for the second show. It was nice to get to meet him and talk shop.
Between shows I assembled the shelving unit for my room. Having it there to put things in order frees up so much more space.
I don't know where my head was today, but I was messing things up left and right. In the first show I forgot to put the fire extinguisher hose up through the basin of the sink prop. Luckily I checked it before the gag.
In the second show I felt like I had forgotten to do something with the sink, but blew off the feeling.
While doing the gag I realized that I had forgotten to hook the foot pedal up to the extinguisher.
I was able to communicate to Ryan the situation and we went into our back up ending like nothing had happened. Even though we got a great response from the audience, I was still angry at myself for slipping like that. Usually I am so on top of things.
Sadly, our shenanigans didn't get the biggest laugh of the show. That belonged to Mr. David Buckner of animal crew, who was running through the ring with a shovel full of elephant crap and tripped over the unfolding ring mat. He didn't fall, but feces flew everywhere out of the shovel. I heard the huge laugh all the way back in the Alley.
Damned showboating goof!
After tear down I visited with Casey and Nat. Casey let me use his computer to get stuff done and Ryan and I partook of some of the food that he was cooking.
I had a really great time tonight. Earlier in the day I found out that Nat is a Simpsons fan, so we were trading quotes all night. Nat is one of my favorite people to make laugh, because she has such a visual imagination like Ryan and me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

There's No Boro Like Winnsboro, Like No Boro I Know

Monday, March 16: Winnsboro, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Since Mondays are Jan's day off, we didn't have to wait for her to serve coffee at the cookhouse. We took off from the lot right about 6:00 a.m.
We were one of the first to leave Jefferson, and we were the second to arrive in Winnsboro.
Right after we were parked, we set out to accomplish errands. First we went by a grocery store so Jan could pick up a few things, and then we went across the street to have breakfast.
Jan needed a Wal Mart so she could buy a new litter box for her cat, but with the help of my GPS, we found a pet store right where we were, which saved us from driving 21 miles to the nearest Wal Mart.
Back at the lot I ran to the house to get my dirty laundry, and then we headed to a laundromat. It took a little searching to find the one we were looking for; it was hidden behind some buildings.
Ryan and I had a ton of laundry to get done thanks to the rainy weather. I was so glad to get it accomplished.
Back at the lot Ryan and I unpacked our props, and I kept myself busy getting things ready for the show.
For the first time since last Wednesday, the sun was out! It was a beautiful day and we were on a big grassy lot, so everyone was taking advantage of it and drying things off.
Courtney was nice enough to let me use her computer to check my e-mail and update my blog. I can't wait to get my Internet card fixed!
It was nice having the whole show back to normal with the return of sunny weather. Sadly the "normalcy" will only last today since the Fusco family is leaving in the morning to go on tour with Tarzan Zerbini Circus. They were only here to fill in for a short time.
Ryan finally fixed our squib problem by buying black powder the other day. It works much better than the flash powder, but he had to wrap the squibs in a ton of tape before they would give the desired effect. They produce a nice bang, which really helps sell the blow off of the shovel gag.
A little girl from Dallas brought a picture that she drew for the clowns to the first show. John Moss got me from backstage between shows so I could go get it and thank her. It was very sweet.
In the second show's warm up, I was up on Ryan's shoulders when all of a sudden I lost my balance and started to fall backwards. I bounced off the tiger cage a bit and then jumped down behind Ryan. Luckily I didn't hurt myself or impale myself of the pins of the cage. Even Casey was concerned...for the well being of the cage.
I met a girl at Intermission whose name was Amouree (pronounced A More Ay). When Ryan and I ran in for the sink gag, we stopped and I pointed at her saying, "Hey Ryan, 'at's Amouree".
God I'm hilarious.
In the finale the squib didn't go off because the battery is weak. I laughed my butt off at Ryan (also because he forgot his cowboy hat), and I continued to do so until I envisioned him pointing the gun at my face and setting the squib off. I kept a careful eye on him after that.
Funny enough, he said the thought had crossed his mind. What a pal!
After tear down a bunch of people attended a farewell BBQ thrown by the Fuscos. I ate way too much Argentinean food and said good bye to the family.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Movin' On Up

Sunday, March 15: Jefferson, TX-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
It was about a 70 mile drive to Jefferson this morning; nothing too difficult, pretty straight forward.
Our lot was a little elevated park right in the middle of a neighborhood. Most of the trailers parked along the curb surrounding said park.
The lot got torn up pretty quickly by the trucks and there were some decent sized mud trenches before the tent was even up.
It was overcast, but luckily it didn't rain today; it was a heck of a lot warmer than yesterday. All in all a good day; if the sun had been out, it would have been beautiful.
Not having Internet access today, I was left to entertain myself by more primitive means. I put a big dent in the Dean Koontz book I am reading; good stuff!
I put my make up on in the Alley for the first time in a couple of days. It was a heck of a lot easier than hauling everything to my room, and I was kept warm by the thermals I bought yesterday.
Before the first show Ryan asked if some hay could be spread in the back door so his clown shoes wouldn't get messed up. Johnny Moss laid the hay down and Ryan thanked him.
10 year old Johnny replied, "No problem. Can I call you a wuss?"
We had a huge crowd for the first show. I couldn't believe how many people showed up. The second show was a lot smaller; neither crowd was overly enthusiastic, but I believe they had a good time. We got a lot of compliments while meeting and greeting, and both shows we got a nice hand at the end of the sink gag.
After tear down a bunch of us were in attendance for our drummer, Lucky's, birthday party. His wife Vickie made some delicious food which I gorged myself on.
Casey was also nice enough to let me post my blog and check my e-mail.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Timpsons

Hey everybody,

Due to me being an idiot, my Internet card is broken. Until I get the problem fixed, my postings will be a little irregular. Thanks to Casey McCoy Cainan for letting me use his computer to post this. He's a great guy, even if he does wear Liberace costumes!

Saturday, March 14: Timpson, TX-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Even though yesterday was a muddy mess, Jan and I had no problem getting off the lot this morning.
It was an 80 mile drive to Timpson, but it really didn't seem to take that long. When we arrived in town, it was desolate. I didn't see any activity at all, and abandoned buildings seemed to be all that greeted the eye.
The lot was in a park; it was an interesting layout, because there was a building right by where the tent was going. The trailers and show trucks were parked along trails and picnic tables. It looked like a nice little park for taking walks and seeing nature, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to do any of that.
I slept in the cab of Jan's RV until my house showed up. This was much preferred to standing out in the cold. Thank God it wasn't raining, but there was a little mud on the lot.
Our assumptions that we wouldn't have very good crowds today were correct. I don't know where the people that did show up came from, because they certainly didn't come from the booming downtown of Timpson.
Neither audience today was really into the show. I heard Spring Break and a Shrine Circus playing near by used as two excuses why we didn't have big crowds.
Dave and Cherie Gregg, who are the advance clowns for the Gold Unit of Ringling, stopped by today. They drove about 8 hours to see us. Courtney and I visited with them between shows, and then they watched the second show.
I cracked up in the second sink gag when Ryan was chasing me with a pipe. He slipped on the ring mat and fell flat on his face, much to my amusement.
After tear down Courtney and I went out to eat with Dave and Cherie at a buffet restaurant called Frontier Cafe.
The owners were very friendly and recognized Courtney from the show, so they spent a lot of time talking with us. They even gave us a box full of fried food (chicken, catfish, potatoes, fried green tomatoes) to take back to the show.
I dropped the box of grub off at America's Own Bar & Grill before taking off to Wal Mart. While there Casey and I did a shot of Southern Comfort, so I could redeem what Casey has started calling "The One Beer Clown Alley".
Dave and Cherie took Courtney and I to Wal Mart where I picked up all the essentials I didn't get yesterday including long johns, a rain coat, and another shelving unit for my room.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Needs of the MANY Outweigh The Needs of the Few

Friday, March 13: Many, LA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
When I woke up this morning I heard the rain drumming on my metal roof and I thought, "I don't want to get out of bed".
The lot flooded during the night and with vehicles moving around there were huge mud trenches. A lot of the trucks, including Jan's RV, had to be pulled off the lot by Bobcats.
Once we were on the road, I was certain that I blew a turn because I didn't see any arrows for a long time. Just when we were considering stopping to ask for directions, we finally saw the Intersection we were looking for.
It rained the whole drive, and when we arrived on the fairgrounds in Many, the grass was already flooded with huge puddles.
I had to wait awhile for my house to show up, because Danny drives it and he was on the lot all morning helping tow vehicles.
To kill time I read Ryan the story of PT Barnum from a book we found in the van. I added my own interpretive twists and facts to the story, much to Ryan's delight.
The Blue Unit Clown Alley of Ringling, which I was a member of for 5 years, gave me a good laugh this morning.
They are in Columbia, SC, home of my favorite football team's rivals, The Gamecocks. I especially hate the team because their mascot tackled me at a PR I was doing last year and almost broke my wrist.
Everyone in the Alley sent me a text message with some variation on the message, "Go Cocks". Ah, it's nice to be thought of.
When I finally got into my room, I noticed there were several leaks in my ceiling. I put some pitchers and buckets under them and then crawled into bed.
When I woke up my mattress was soaking wet. "Oh no, it's just like elementary school all over again!", I thought to myself.
But no, it was just a leak above my bed. D'oh!
I took a nice hot shower to unwind, and then I went about fixing my ceiling leak. A little Liquid Nails over the offending hole did the trick. Now if I could just do something about the other leaks and the condensation that forms on the ceiling...
When Ryan got back from laundry we went for a walk. We ate lunch at a little BBQ restaurant (well, really more of a shack). It was pretty good, but it wasn't as good as Duke's BBQ back home in Walterboro, SC!
Next we sloshed through the rain to Wal Mart. While there I didn't think to buy any of the things I could have used today: a rain slicker, long johns, etc. I did buy Pop Tarts though!
Back at the lot Ryan and I reluctantly unloaded our props from the Alley and set up our trunks.
I stayed in my room for as long as I could. I did my make up inside again, but unlike yesterday I remembered to bring my mirror and didn't have to use my laptop's webcam for reflection. 
I know yesterday I wrote about the rain and mud and cold. If I could, I would go back in time and kick yesterday Steve's butt, because today was the day to complain about!
The whole lot was basically flooded, with mud all over the tent entrances and the ring. It rained all day, so there was no relief from that. Luckily Ryan and I had our boots, which kept us dry from our knees down.
I actually had fun tromping around through the mud, despite what this picture shows.

Once again it was only the cold that kept me from fully enjoying my puddle splashing good time.
Ryan and I were cracking up during warm up of the first show. We were trying to run in the ring wearing our boots, while tripping through all the bunched up, soggy hay that lined the ring. Then when we were doing our dance, we were kicking water and mud everywhere. It's a good thing that the front row "preferred seating" section was empty. It would have been like the "Splash Zone" at Sea World.
The horse act was out of the first show, which was wise. There is no way they could have run through the mud.
In the sink gag we were once again working without water. The ring mat was so muddy by the time it was our turn that we got filthy falling down and rolling around on the mat.
The first fall I took was a face plant, and when I got up I wiped my muddy hands on Ryan. Needless to say we were cracking up the whole gag as we saw how dirty we were getting.
Luckily we weren't the only ones laughing. The crowd was very good for such adverse weather.
The rain just kept on coming right into the second show. We had a very good crowd, they were cracking up at our gags.
Ryan and I decided to do the "no falling" sink gag to avoid rolling around in the mud like the filthy pigs we are. We came up with alternate bits for the few falls that we usually throw in that gag. They worked out well and got laughs, but it was almost a little sacrilegious having a Steve and Ryan gag with no falls!
The horses and web didn't work for the second show, and there was no finale. It was nice to be able to pack everything up and get ready for tear down after the sink gag.
It took us a little longer than usual to take down the curtain because we were trying to keep certain parts of it out of the mud. I was happy to be done with everything and retreat to the safety and relative dryness of my room. 
Overall I enjoyed my first truly rainy, muddy day, but I'm not going to lie. I could do without 'em!

March 14- Timpson, TX, March 15- Jefferson, TX, March 16- Winnsboro, TX

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What A Drag

Thursday, March 12: Jasper, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It was freezing in my room this morning. I was in a mad rush to get dressed and get outside where it was warmer by comparison.
It was a very short 27 mile jump to Jasper, TX this morning. We were on a grass and sand lot; rodeo grounds.
Harry Kingston was on the lot this morning, so I passed the time waiting on my house by talking to him. He showed me some of his collectibles in the back of his truck. He had an exploding hammer and a huge pair of clown shoes; they were neat.
I was planning on walking 2 miles into town to a book store, but it was raining all day. I'd like to say that I was brave and faced the rain and mud with a laugh, but I was cowardly and hid in my room all day until it was time to get ready.
When I stepped outside I was greeted with this sight.

Yeah baby!
To be honest, it could have been a lot worse. The worst places for the mud were the entrance to the tent and the backstage entrances, but those were covered with sawdust and hay for the shows. I considered this an easy immersion into a mud scenario.
The only thing that made it uncomfortable was the cold.
We made a couple of changes to the gags to fit the situation. We rewrote the shovel gag a bit so we wouldn't have to fall in the mud, and we took the water out of the end of the sink gag. We figured why add to the problem and catch pneumonia in the process?
For the first show Ryan and I ran out to do warm up in our mud costumes and mud shoes. Halfway through the routine the lights went out and the music stopped. The generator kicked the bucket.
Ryan and I kept going and stretched a bit to give them some time to work on the problem. When we finished our scheduled routine, I was ready to stretch and improvise, but Casey was already letting the tigers into the cage, even though the power was still out.
Ryan and I waited for a bit to see if they were still going to do opening or if Casey was going to go into his act. I ran offstage to ask John Moss what the deal was, and just then the power came back on and opening started. By that point Ryan and I were already backstage, so we just went to the Alley to change for the shovel gag.
A little later in the show, the power kept shutting off for every act. As soon as they would get it up and running again, it would die.
Ryan and I were waiting in the wings to cover if need be, but the show kept plugging along. I even had my flashlight to use as a make shift spot light.
Finally the power came on and stayed on during Intermission. A lot of people left, probably partly because of the weather, partly because of the power failures.
There wasn't much of a crowd to start with, so it was noticeable when some were gone.
They HATED us for the sink gag. Of course, if I was cold and wet, the last thing I would want to see was two jerks hitting each other.
Between shows Ryan and I went to the Fusco's trailer for Mate, an Argentinean tea.
The second show was so much better than the first. We had a great crowd; they made performing in this weather totally worth it.
We got some BIG laughs in the sink gag, I was disappointed we didn't get to do the water for them, they would have gone wild.
Tear down wasn't bad at all considering it was raining (lightly) on top of there being mud.
Ryan and I went over to the Fusco's trailer to watch a movie since the show was leaving the power on all night. Whoo hoo!

March 13-Many, LA, March 14-Timpson, TX, March 15-Jefferson, TX

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I Got Your Back!"

Wednesday, March 11: Woodville, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning's 75 mile drive seemed very long. I guess I need to get back into the swing of getting up early and driving.
We were on another nice lot today. I'm a little worried that we are getting set up for another crummy lot in the near future.
A group of us went to the Pickett House for lunch. It is a southern boarding house style restaurant that had great food and circus posters decorating the walls.

It was overcast all day today, and a cold front moved in as well. While we were at lunch it started pouring down rain. We killed some time in the gift shop while waiting for it to die down.
I got Lucky to drop me off a little ways from the lot so I could check out something I saw on the drive into town. It was a painting done of the 122nd Edition Blue Unit Ringling Clown Alley. While it was cool that I found it in Woodville of all places, it wasn't worth shelling out $500 for it.

I spent most of today in my room keeping warm and dry. Although it was a dreary day, we got off very light. There was no mud and it didn't rain at all during the shows.
Harry Kingston, a circus fan and reader of this blog, and two of his friends (also circus fans and blog readers [I can't recall your names, sorry guys! Too many hits to the head]) came by the lot to visit.
Harry brought us a circus book for our collection and doughnuts. Thanks Harry!
I was very surprised with the first show. What a great crowd; I had a very fun show.
The second show had a big audience, but their reactions were strange. The laughs were sporadic and unpredictable. I thought it was interesting that an afternoon show had better reactions than a night show.
I did have a fan base at the second show that I kept playing to, so that was fun. Early in the show I defended one of the guys in the group from Ryan and told him that I had his back. From then on he was my honorary "homeboy" and I acknowledged him every time we made an appearance.
The one thing about tonight that was not fun was pulling on wet clothes and skull caps for the sink gag. It's going to be even worse when it gets colder!
I decided to unwind and watch a movie in the evening since we have a later call in the morning.

March 12-Jasper, TX, March 13-Many, LA, March 14-Timpson, TX

"How'd You Like To Be A Whiteface?"

Tuesday, March 10: Trinity, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
I was surprised that I didn't wake up at 5:30 a.m. this morning. I ended up sleeping about three hours longer than that.
Jessi and I were on the road shortly after 9:00 a.m., and when we got to the lot in Trinity, she dropped me off and had to head back to Hugo to get ready for her debut with Culpepper on Saturday.
We were on a great grassy lot today, and there was lots of stuff around as well.
Something I spotted on our drive into town piqued my interest, and I set out on an epic quest to find it once again.
After a mere half a mile or so, there I was in its presence of, Xtapolapocetl, king of Trinity!

With his spiky head and glowing red eyes, I was powerless to do anything but bow to my new master.
Long live Xtapolapocetl!

After the locals made a comment about a virgin sacrifice, I decided it would be best to move along...
I grabbed some grub from the cookhouse before exploring all the other things the city had to offer: a post office, an antique store, a market, a video store....and a Sonic!
Not adhering to my strict sleep schedule of the last couple of weeks sure did throw me for a loop. I was lethargic all the way up until show time.
An employee of Church's chicken was bothering us all day any time he was on his break.
You couldn't go anywhere on the lot without him yelling about getting free tickets.
He asked Ryan what he does for the show and Ryan answered, "I'm one of the clowns."
The guy then replied with something about easy money. Well, it's not working at a fast food restaurant, but it's a living!
There was a very small crowd at the first show, and even though I felt like they didn't find us funny at all, we had so many people at Intermission telling us how great the shovel gag was.
A group of kids asked me where the black clown was, referring to Ryan and his wig or costume I suppose. I got a laugh out of the kids' father when I said, "I didn't know we had one."
We had a better audience for the second show. I made friends with a couple of kids in the front row, but I also made an "enemy". 
At the end of the sink gag I was styling on the ring curb when I noticed this jock in a polo shirt sitting right in front of me with his arms crossed and a bored expression on his face.
I stopped styling and asked him, "You didn't like it?"
He replied, "It was alright."
I dropped my cheery facade and gave him a cold, hard look while slowly backing away, which made his girlfriend and the other people in the section laugh.
Then in finale, as I was exiting and waving to everyone, when I got in front of him, I once again stared him down as I slowly walked by, and then resumed smiling and waving. 
After tear down I went for a little walk. I was at the gas station getting a drink, and while I was checking out, I looked over beside me and a display case holding Halls cough drops just toppled to the ground.
Afraid for the safety of others with my new found "Carrie" powers, I beat a hasty retreat after helping pick up the mess.

March 11-Woodville, TX, March 12-Jasper, TX, March 13-Many, LA

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Everything's Bigger In Texas!

Monday, March 9: Shepherd, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning's drive was a pain. I had to turn around a couple of times because I blew the arrows; there were lots of twists and turns to get to the lot.
We were playing next to a baseball field, a pretty tight lot. It was nice and grassy, but the ring had dirt all along the inside perimeter after the horses had a rehearsal in the early afternoon. All that was left was an island of grass in the center of the ring. Ryan and I made a mental note to fall in that area during the shows.
I didn't find much when I ventured into town, just a couple of convenience stores; nothing exciting.
I fleshed my skull caps and shined my shoes back at the lot, and then I did a lot of reading. I actually knocked a big chunk out of the book I borrowed from Jan.
My friend, Jessi, came to visit today. She is going to be the clown on Culpepper Merriweather Circus this year, and her show opens on Saturday. She took some time out of her busy schedule to come visit, which made me very happy.
She watched both shows today, and I'm glad she did, because they were great. I was surprised at how big the crowd was for the first show being it was a)a 4:30 p.m. show on a Monday and because b) this town seemed pretty dead.
The second show was even better. The tent was packed and the audience was having a great time. Both our gags got big laughs, and the cheers and screams we got at the end of the sink gag were amazing. I had such a happy, peaceful moment when I was standing there letting all that positive energy wash over me. That moment is exactly why I do what I do.
That and the clown groupies...
Jessi got some good photos with her nice camera. As soon as I get copies, I will put some up here.
After tear down I jumped in Jessi's rental car, and we took off to find food since we were both starving.
Having accomplished that (no easy feat considering it was 11:00 p.m. in The Middle of Nowhere, TX) we grabbed a hotel room for the night.
I am so looking forward to sleeping in in the morning. Also, the bath tub was looking especially inviting after the rough fall I landed tonight in the second sink gag.

March 10-Trinity, TX, March 11-Woodville, TX, March 12-Jasper, TX

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beware The Spider Rattlers!

Sunday, March 8: Navasota, TX-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Only about a 40 mile drive to Navasota this morning. Someone was broken down not too far out of Sealy, TX; that was about the most exciting thing that happened.
We were on a beautiful lot today; a soccer field with nice, short grass. There were also bathrooms with a sink. Woo hoo!
This was the first lot with absolutely nothing to do within walking distance. No food, no gas stations, no shopping, nothing. I used all my time today before the shows to relax, read, and do some sewing on my prospector pants which acquired a huge rip on one side. Either I'm getting fat or Ryan is a lousy seamstress.
We had a good laugh at Casey's costume today. His wardrobe always looks sharp, but today he had looser fitting lycra pants on that looked totally out of place with his tight jacket. There were big wrinkles in the pants....and it looked like he had a front butt.
The audience was just blah for the first show. It didn't help that we sucked up the shovel gag. It was just a bad gag for us.
Backstage Ryan and I entertained the performers waiting at the back door by staging a fight. It started with Ryan mocking me behind my back while I was reading. I walked over to his chair and kicked it over. This prompted Ryan to knock my chair over. Next I took his wig and threw it over the fence next to the road we were by. Ryan did the same to my wig. Then we realized that we were going to have to get our wigs back. I think it was probably more entertaining watching us try and get over the wire fence than anything we did in the show today.
The second show audience was even smaller and more blah than the first show today. I guess everyone was going to church today...or barn...or whatever they do in these parts.
In the second show I amazed Rae and Ryan with my amazing new sideshow act, which included sticking a plastic hanger up my nose, and then fitting my whole body through a broken hanger. Jim Rose eat your heart out!
We had a rough sink gag in the second show. First the door to the sink hit me in the eyebrow. I panicked when I thought I was cut and kept asking Ryan if I was bleeding.
Next I accidentally clocked Ryan in the bridge of the nose with the wooden handle to the hammer. I dropped character and asked, "Oh my God, are you alright!?" 
I wonder if the audience thought it was all part of the act or not. 
We gave up on the cannon for now after the first show today and went back to using our guns. I was happy.
America's Own Bar and Grill hosted a big BBQ tonight, with several from the show in attendance. I ate way too much and laughed a lot at some great stories.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Do You Go To School Around Here?"

Saturday, March 7: Sealy, TX-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
It was a short drive to Sealy this morning, only about 40 miles or so. We were next to an old high school on a grass lot. No stickers, but lots of ant hills and little cacti.
I walked over to a doughnut shop while waiting for my house to show up. They have Kolaches, which I love!
After unloading the Alley and setting up the props, Ryan and I walked to get lunch. I got into make up early so I wouldn't have to rush. I then busied myself with some sewing projects.
It was an overcast day, which didn't give me much get up and go. It did make it a lot cooler though.
We had a good crowd for the first show, even if they didn't find us too funny. We rearranged the shovel gag a bit so that we wouldn't be falling on cacti.
In the finale it was time to unveil the cannon that Ryan had been working on for the past three days.
Ryan and I rolled it into the center of the ring, pointed it towards the banner that was about to be unfurled, and made a big production of it. John Moss gave his vocal cue, Ryan and I plugged our ears with our fingers for dramatic effect....and maybe three pieces of confetti shot weakly into the air. We couldn't do anything but laugh.
I guess what happened was the confetti shifted from the holding area while we rolled it out, so there was nothing left to blow when the power was turned on.
Somehow I completely spaced out and forgot to get food from the cookhouse during the first show. D'oh!
It was threatening rain for most of the second show, but besides a few drops, it held off.
We had a big crowd for the second show, and they loved our gags. The reaction we got when we styled after the sink gag was fantastic.
I get great pleasure listening to the audience when John Moss asks them in the second half if they want to see more Steve and Ryan. He then asks if they want to see the circus elephants. So far we always get bigger cheers than the elephants. Wah ha ha ha!
The second audience were a fun group to play with during Intermission. I got in a yelling match with a teenage boy, which cracked up the whole section in front of me.
Once again, the cannon in finale was a dismal failure. I think it is time to take it out back and have it go the way of Ol' Yeller.
After tear down I went for a walk to get some supper. It was quite an adventure, I almost got run over by rednecks and was mistaken for a local teenager. Ah the good times to be had in Sealy, TX.
Back at the lot I visited with Ryan, Josie, and Marcileno for a bit. Ryan went with Rae and the Fuscos to Wal Mart, but I decided to sit it out and relax at home.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Friday, March 6: Needsville, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning's drive seemed to go on forever. It didn't help that I was close to dozing off the whole drive. Jan had me stop at an H.E.B so she could pick up a few things; while she did, I took a power nap for a few minutes.
When I woke up I felt like a million bucks and had no problem for the rest of the drive.
The lot today was cracked and broken asphalt, not a lot of fun. I went for a short walk to scope out my surroundings while I waited on my house to show up. I saw about four different show vehicles blow the arrows that led to the lot. I'm thankful I didn't have that problem today.
Ryan went with Josie to get laundry done this morning; I stayed at the lot and lacquered the hell out of the cannon.
When Ryan got back I put away my clean laundry and went for a little walk. I didn't find anything of merit. I also didn't walk very far, sitting out in the sun lacquering drained me a bit.
After a nice shower and a short nap I was good to go again.
Working on asphalt presented some interesting challenges during the first show. Sound was very weird in the tent with all the reverberation. The other thing was I haven't performed on concrete since Ringling, as my joints lovingly reminded me. Thank God for my knee braces.
The sink gag was especially treacherous because the ring mat was extremely slick on top of the asphalt. Ryan and I took extra care not to kill ourselves.
The second show was off to a great start (big audience, and they LOVED us) until we went out for the coloring book pitch.
A large woman in a floral dress called us over and pointed out her very young daughter, who had money for a book. I took the money, and went to hand her a book when I noticed that she was getting ready to cry. I stepped back while still holding the book out to her. Meanwhile the mom was telling me to move closer so she could get a picture. I politely declined pointing out that her daughter was afraid. I continued to hold the book out to the girl, but when she wouldn't take it from me, I put it on the bleachers next to her. The mother was persistent despite how many times I told her that her daughter was afraid of me.
Finally the mom said, "I don't care."
I replied with, "Nice lady, you'd sacrifice your child's comfort for a picture!?" and walked away.
She turned to Ryan and asked him, and Ryan walked over just so the woman would be appeased.
As soon as Ryan got near, the little girl screamed and threw her snow cone on him. Ryan was livid, to say the least.
It must have been a full moon out tonight, because there were all kinds of drunk and/or crazy people at the show tonight.
Next on our downward spiral for the evening, we somehow came up $39 short for the coloring books, which we had to pay out of our pockets. I think it was a result of miscounting of the books and us having extra money a couple of nights in a row. Still, I can't wait for Raul to get here and take over the stupid coloring books!
Sink gag was going great until the blow off. I didn't press the pedal correctly with my shoe and no water came out. Ryan and I went into our "saver" ending, but our timing was a little off, and I turned around just in time to get clocked in the face with the sink basin.
It laid me out, which normally wouldn't be a problem, but the ground was pretty darn hard, and I bashed the heck out of my elbow.
Backstage I was messing with the foot pedal trying to solve the problem and sprayed one of the Fusco girls in the process. I think she likes me...
It just was not our day. When we were done with tear down, we went over to Casey and Nat's for beer, brats, and some chicanery. 

March 7-Sealy, TX, March 8-Navasota, TX, March 9-Shepherd, TX

Port The Cow

Thursday, March 5: Port Lavaca, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
For some reason my alarm didn't go off this morning; luckily I was woken up when the truck that hauls my house was turned on.
The directions on the route slip made the drive sound difficult, but in actuality it was very easy. I followed a trailer most of the way to the lot anyway.
We were next to a school today, which guaranteed lots of attention and publicity thanks to the kids. The lot was nice and grassy, with no stickers! There were fire ant beds though.
I found a Diner on my GPS that I planned to have lunch at, but it was closed. Luckily I had eaten something light at the cookhouse earlier.
I walked to downtown Port Lavaca, which didn't seem too promising at first, but when I got into town, I really liked it.
I found an antique store that had this little fellow, who I instantly felt a connection to.

I would have bought him, but he felt fragile and I didn't feel like shelling out (no pun intended) $45 for him.
There was also a little park right by the water that was very nice and relaxing to walk along.
Back at the lot Ryan and I practiced our hand to hand handstands. They are coming along decently. We then started playing around with pratfalls on the big crash mat the show has.
When we were done we noticed that we only had thirty minutes to get ready for the show!
The first crowd was pretty decent for a 4:30 p.m. show, size and reaction wise.
We had an amazing crowd for our evening show; probably the best since Brownsville.
I was off on the wrong foot at the start of the show when I burst through the curtain for warm up. I lost my footing and fell flat on my face, much to the delight of the audience and cast/crew who were near by.
It was great getting huge reactions for our gags again. They loved the sink gag, we got another standing ovation at the end from some of the people in the audience. This despite some minor technical difficulties with the water. In my zeal I accidentally kicked the foot pedal that controls the water under the sink. Ryan had to fish it out, and then the pressure was weird for a few seconds. Finally, when water was shooting out my ears, the rig I wear around my head came undone and I had cold water pouring down my back. My shirt, undershirt, and underwear were all drenched. Thank God I'm doing laundry tomorrow.
John Moss got sideswiped by a light tonight during tear down. It was a good reminder not to get too comfortable since there are many possible dangers in the tent.
After we were cleaned up, Ryan and I were invited over to the Fusco's trailer for a party. Susanna, the mother of the troupe, had her birthday today, so there was good food to celebrate. I even got to work on my Spanish and show off with the three words of Portuguese I know.

March 6-Needville, TX, March 7-Sealy, TX, March 8-Navasota, TX

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Paransas Ass...Er...Aransas Pass!

Wednesday, March 4: Aransas Pass, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning's drive was a little trickier than the previous few. The route slip said we would only have three turns before getting to town, but there were a few more than we expected. Good thing I am getting a lot better at spotting arrows.
It was about 50 miles to Aransas Pass, which I had been mistakenly calling Arkansas Pass up until this morning. We stopped at an H.E.B right outside town so Jan could get a couple of things.

The lot was on a community park, and it was beautiful; a nice grassy lot. Looks can be deceiving though, as the grass was full of stickers!
I had my first hot shower today since joining Kelly Miller back in early February. I think it is safe to say that it was the happiest moment of my life. My wedding, the birth of my first child, none of these things to come will be able to hold a candle to the pure elation I felt when that hot water hit my body.
Ryan worked all day on a cannon that will be used in the finale. We are going to use it to shoot confetti into the crowd.
I wish I could say I helped, but Ryan did all the work. I painted the underside rims of the wheels and that was about it. Ryan did a great job; the cannon looks beautiful.

I walked over some dunes by the park to see the Gulf of Mexico. I also checked out a little wetland sanctuary that was in the park.
A trek to find a book store (that was closed), led me to downtown Aransas Pass. I really dug the town, it was nice.
I found an antique shop where I picked up a couple of Dean Koontz books for $1 a piece, and I found a post office where I got a couple of money orders so I could send some cash home.
Back at the lot I was just in time for the 3:00 p.m. concert of the "Peace Out Girls", three of the kids from the show.
This much anticipated event has been a source of conversation since Palmview. There was a sign on the bandwagon in that city advertising the show, and there was a slip full of tickets. I made sure to grab mine early. Poor Ryan was too late, they sold out fast.
Luckily he has connections and was given VIP status. I also managed to pull a few strings and get upgraded.
The concert was short and sweet and most of the show was there to rock out to "Barbie Girl".
Ryan and I are now in talks with some major agencies to form a branch out group called the "Peace Out Boyz". I will do it if I get to be the "Edgy One".
After the concert I rushed to get everything I needed accomplished before our first show.
I was so happy that the first show was well attended. It wasn't great, but by Monday and Tuesday standards, it was wonderful!
I ate it in the shovel gag much to the enjoyment of the prop crew. I tried to jump over the mesh fence that keeps the audience out of the ring, but I simply went flying and landed on my face.
The second show was great tonight; we had a big crowd and they were having fun.
At the beginning of opening when the tigers are let into the cage, I do a bit of being afraid of them and run to the audience.
One tiger ran up and jumped onto the cage trying to get me. Maybe I better lay off that bit for awhile...
In the shovel gag I was really playing up my prospector-ness, and John Moss made us laugh by commenting to Ryan, "I think your friend there has spent a little too much time in the saloon."
In finale when we are walking off, Ryan and I always run into each other and scare ourselves.
For the second show, when I got scared, I pulled my gun on him quickly and shot him, which he got a kick out of.
Our packing took a little bit longer tonight because all of a sudden we had to worry about where to put the cannon. For now it is going in a storage compartment of the generator truck.

March 5-Pt. Lavaca, TX, March 6-Needville, TX, March 7-Sealy, TX

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You Can't Spell Robstown Without "Obstown"

Tuesday, March 3: Robstown, TX-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It was absolutely freezing in the room this morning. I was surprised that it was actually warmer outside.
Only 58 miles or so to Robstown this morning. It got a little difficult once we got into town, because the sun was rising right in front of us, and I could barely see where I was going. Not a good thing while trying to spot arrows to the lot.
The show is on some fairgrounds today. A lot of dirt mixed in with the grass; uneven as hell too.
I had a chance to ride with Natalie to the laundromat this morning, but I opted to sleep instead; I was wiped.
When I woke up Ryan and I unloaded the Alley and then I went to take a shower. They were tampering with the hot water heater again, so I have yet to enjoy a warm shower on the show. Soon....soon!
Ryan joined me on my daily walk today. We got some lunch and then we set out to see Robstown. On the way to and from town we were held up waiting for extremely long trains to pass. Now I know how people felt when the circus train would pull through town.
A few boxcars were wide open, and we entertained the thought of jumping on board and taking up the hobo life style, but good sense prevailed.
On the walk back to the lot Josie stopped and picked us up. She was coming back from doing the prop crew's laundry.
At the lot I got props ready for the show and watched some Simpsons episodes online to unwind.
The first show today was rough. I am not looking forward to a year of 4:30 p.m. shows if they are going to be like this. At Intermission I was able to talk to everybody in the tent, and still had plenty of time left over.
Ryan made me laugh in the shovel gag; we were trying out our improv game about what we would buy with the gold we found. He said, "I'm going to buy a new partner!"
The audience LOVED us for the first show sink gag. I believe they liked us so much they wanted to have sex with us. They were yelling, "F**k Steve & Ryan!" 
Second show was a vast improvement. The audience was bigger and having fun. 
I had a pushy mom take a picture of me with her kids during Intermission. She kept shoving people out of the way to get the picture, and then she was pushing her kids closer to me until they were almost tripping. 
Everyone around me laughed, and so did the mom, but I think I got my point across.
The water didn't work for the sink gag either show. This was especially a bummer for the second show, because the audience was so good.
What happened was that the ground was so uneven that the sink was at a tilt and we couldn't get the proper leverage on the foot pedal to get water to shoot out. We will have to figure out a course of action for the next time we play a lot like this.
The horse act didn't even work today because the ground was so bumpy.
Tear down seems a lot less hectic now than it used to. I suppose everyone is used to the rhythm now so there is no need to rush.
I went to Josie's trailer to buy some supper before getting online to write for my "adoring public".

March 4-Aransas Pass, TX, March 5-Pt. Lavaca, TX, March 6-Needville, TX