Monday, May 18, 2009

How Could Such A Beautiful Day Turn Out So Lousy?

Monday, May 18: Piketon, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Today was our longest jump in quite awhile. We drove a whopping 60 miles! To be honest, it was over before I knew it.

We were playing at the Piketon fairgrounds on a beautiful grassy lot. To make things better, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It turned out to be one hell of a beautiful day.

I tagged along with Nat at the last minute to get laundry done. She dropped me back off at the lot when I was done so I could put clothes away and clean up.
When she got done with her laundry, I jumped in the truck with her and the girls again and we went to Wal Mart. 
Today was Casey's birthday, so I bought him some gifts from me and Ryan: steaks and coffee.

Back at the lot I sat down and relaxed for the first time today; it felt so darned good. I didn't want to get up and get ready for the shows.

We had horrible crowds today. They were very small and they just didn't care. Even the acts that usually are crowd favorites didn't get any reaction.
The Blue Unit was planning on visiting today originally; I'm glad they came last Wednesday instead.

I almost broke my ankle doing our windmill kick dance in warm up. The horses had torn up the perimeter of the ring a bit during rehearsal, and I stepped in a divot and had quite a scare.

Casey filmed the sink gag for us in the first show. We have been unhappy with reactions to it lately, so we figured we should see what the problem was. The gag looked fine overall, but we saw areas where both of us could clean up bits and make things clearer, and we saw that the whole gag needed a bit of an energy boost. 
It is so useful to videotape ourselves, I'm upset we didn't do it earlier.

Ryan worked on birthday cards for Casey and Renzo, Armando's son, in between shows:

People were just getting on my nerves during the second Intermission. A gang of fat kids nearly pushed me over the edge; I had to step away from the scenario and leave the tent before I said something I would regret.

All the critiquing we did of the sink gag was for naught tonight. We could have done the funniest gag in the world and it wouldn't have made any difference. At least we know for the future and can be aware of areas that need fixing.

The final straw of the day for me was when one of the kids from the fat kid gang (who was all of 10) flipped me off with both hands in finale.
Lately the lack of respect Ryan and I have been getting as clowns has been discouraging me so much. We get harassed by heathen children, asked to scare teenage girls with "coulraphobia", and viewed as lesser life forms by adults.
Just the other day a mom was hitting Ryan in Intermission and telling her young daughter to do the same. When Ryan commented on this to the lady and said that she was teaching the kid that it was ok to hit people, the mother replied, "Only funny looking ones."
The death penalty is too kind sometimes...

But you know what? It's all worthwhile for me when a child sees me for the first time, and their little eyes light up with joy. When that happens, I just know that they are getting ready to throw something at me... 

After tear down Ryan and I went over to Casey's to join him in celebrating his birthday by helping him eat some of the steaks we bought.

May 19-20-Columbus, OH May 21-Buckeye Lake, OH


NOJOE said...

Hey Steve,

Keep that chin up. We run into the same groups that you experience. It's easy to let it wear you down especially when you work so hard to make every performance the best. Just remember that everyone builds their opinion of clowning as a whole on the last one of us they meet. It is up to us to bring meeting a great clown back to being a magical experience.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you don't get any respect because your are wearing too much make-up or are still wearing wigs. My advise is don't change a thing. Post a sign at the door stating, "Warning, our clowns bite!" People who touch or abuse the animals loose fingers.
I'm enjoying your adventure and my family looks forward to seeing you later this summer in Milwaukee.

"Mr. Bill" Machtel

Anonymous said...

Steve, Seems like you have been writing more and more about the lack of positive response you and Ryan are getting from the audience. Seems it is becoming the norm other than the exception. While it may have something to do with your performance I suspect a great deal of it has to do with the show as a whole. I have seen that show and it brings you up and lets you down - a couple of good acts (Casey and Moss are great pros) but nothing that is really going to "wow" anyone except for your "sink gag". I sat there with mixed feelings, thinking I had wasted my money and time for a so-so show at best. So you and Ryan end up taking some of the residual effects of all that. You are a small part of the whole and by the time the "sink gag" comes around they are pretty much decided what they think of the show as a whole and I suspect the response you are getting is a display of their thinking. You are hearing the lackluster response to what appears to be a lackluster show. Sorry to be critical of the show but that is how I see it - I would tell JRNII the same. You guys are GREAT! Don't let them get to you - you know what you are doing is funny and good circus clowning - Keep doing what you do best!

Steve Copeland said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement.
It is nice to hear a critical review for once; reviews that say "it's all great", don't really help that much.

And Mr. Bill, we aren't going to be in WI, that is another show being produced by Mr. North for the parade.

Rose said...

Some people lack respect.

Some people just don't know.

Society is programed to react to certain things and when presented with something different...doesn't know what to do.

Clowning, it would be hoped, triggers an instinctual laughter....but if someone's thoughts are elsewhere than the bit...then the instinct to laugh is interrupted.

I haven't seen K/M this year but it could be true what the last poster wrote. Thoughts are about the other acts and judgment is already made, and attention detoured.

It's also true that as clowns or any costumed soul..we become hidden as human beings sometimes. People stop seeing us as like them and as something that is okay to break rules of behavior with.

That's not right, and a quick wit can turn someone's bad behavior around, sometimes...but not always.

Which is all to say. It's not you, or Ryan-whether either or both of you find ways to improve.

You're good. You're really good. Many of us, out here, admire you. We're also really glad you're out there doing what you do.

Pat Cashin said...

I know why you guys do intermission, because you both thrive on the interaction with the audience.

Unless things have changed, the show doesn't INSIST on you doing it.

Take a week off. Just be in the tent when you are in the ring and then leave.

Give yourselves a break and then come back to it when you are rested.

I know it FEELS like you'll be goldbricking but you won't be.

You are still doing far more than any clowns on any other American mudshow, so don't burn yourselves out.

Jessi Wonderfool said...

Hear Hear Cashin! I think thats a great idea. Taking a week off- changing the routine. I try to do that somedays- when I'm just not feeling it. It makes me ready and excited about it the next day or so.

And I disagree with the overview of the KM show. When I saw it, I thought it was a great representation of American Circus- and you guys freaking blew it out of the water. People are going to be snobs if thats there disposition. Some audiences are with you and your energy- others are not. Some are quite and others are loud. And yes, there is always room for improvement in a gag, but you can't beat your self up (inside) for not winning everybody over.
And send those fat kids over to me... I got a few things to say.....