Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Will I Ever Play Piano Again, Doc!?"

Tuesday, May 19: Columbus, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It was a 70 mile drive to Columbus today; this is the first city that we have played this year that I have played before on Ringling.
We are parked for the next two days next to a mall! Ryan and I went and got breakfast once we had arrived, and I set out to explore a little.
Sadly the dollar cinema that I spotted has been closed for awhile; so no cheap movies for me. The mall was dead as well. There were only a few little stores and one big department store; everything else was shut up.

I attempted to walk to the downtown area where Ringling plays (coincidentally, they just left town on Sunday), but it was too far to walk in the time I had. Darn those skyscrapers and their deceiving perspective!
I did managed to buy a new pair of shoes, which were much needed. I had worn my ratty old tennis shoes out, and they had developed holes in the soles.

Ryan spent his day painting the Ringside Seating sign for the show. I'd say he did a great job:

I met circus fan and blog reader, Doug Kruest, today, as well as the editors of White Tops, the Wells'. Mrs. Wells is named Marti. I forget Mr. Wells' name...from the smart aleck comments and critiquing he made about Ryan's painting abilities, I want to say it was Rembrandt. 

The first show was about as dead as the mall next door; very few people showed up. Nevertheless, I was in a good mood until the shovel gag.
First Ryan tripped on some rigging and ate it while running into the ring. That didn't phase me; in fact I had a good laugh over it. Karma is evil though, and as we were running out of the ring I tripped over the rubber they laid over some cables and did the "slide of death" (so named by Jimmy Hall).
Backstage I was none too happy when I realized I had scraped some nice chunks out of my palms. I yelled some obscenities while kicking the tie down ropes (a patented Copeland healing remedy), and then I seeked First Aid.
After I washed my hands, Reyna swabbed the wounds with alcohol (boy did that feel good), and gave me some Band-Aids.
A little later Nat gave me a tube of Neosporin and alcohol swabs so I could clean my elbow, which also got a nice scrape.
John Moss graciously lent me an old pair of gloves so I wouldn't have to scare or disgust anybody with my Freddy Kreuger hands during the shows. Looks like I will be wearing them for a few days.

As if I wasn't geared up enough, the sink gag was a disaster, ending with the fire extinguisher rig breaking during the water bits. Also, did I mention that in the shovel gag, when I fell, I broke our rifle prop?
Ryan and I just can not catch a break lately!

Between the shows I did a quick fix on the sink's water rig until we can get to a Home Depot tomorrow. Ryan also glued the gun back together. At least now we have more initiative to get the new shovel gag blow off ready to go.

A friend of mine came to visit during the second show. He's a new friend, although we met 20 years ago.
His name is Greg Long. He was a Clyde Beatty clown from 1989-1992. I met him his first year during Intermission Meet & Greet. He overheard my mom call me by my name, so when he met me he addressed me as Steven and even signed his autograph to me. For the rest of the show I was in awe that a real, honest to goodness circus clown knew my name!
Twenty years later I found Greg via the Internet and told him the story and about how that memory still stays with me today.
It just goes to show the impact that a clown can have on a child; I try and keep that in mind when I'm meeting and greeting on the show. 

We had a full house for the second show, and they were a great audience. It was a largely Hispanic audience due to the part of town we were in. It helped remind me why I loved our time in the valley of Texas. Even subtle bits in the sink gag were getting big laughs; I needed a show like this to remind me why I do what I do.

After the shows we had Casey's "unofficial" birthday party. Doug brought some beer as a present, and there was a cookout with the usual suspects in attendance along with guests Greg Long and Jimmy and Teppa Hall, who do a bear act. Jimmy was cracking me up all night with his funny stories.

May 20-Columbus, OH May 21-Buckeye Lake, OH May 22-Millersburg, OH



Toto said...

If it makes you feel any beter, I tripped over my baggy pants at the gig I was doing at "Butlins" in Bognor Regis, England back in March and turned my palms into hamburger.

Anonymous said...

Once on Bentley Brothers Circus I was doing something in the back yard and Jimmy Hall walked by, looked at what I was doing, and said, "that won't work."

"How would you know?" I replied.

"Trust me," he said. "When you get to where it doesn't work, come over and I'll show you how to do it right."

A few hours and much frustration later, I went over, and he showed me how to make it work. Later on, I asked him, "How did you know?"

"I used to be just like you," he answered. "I never listened to anyone. Everything I ever learned to do right in this business, I learned by doing it every wrong way first. So I know all the wrong ways to do most everything. I knew what you were doing wouldn't work 'cause I'd already done it that way, and it didn't work then."

From then on, whenever I was on a show with Jimmy Hall and I wanted to try something new, I asked him first. He saved me a lot of grief over the years-

And, Jimmy, if you're reading this, and you never heard me say it before, "thanks!"

Bruce the Clown

Bob Kelmer said...

Hey Steve! Sorry about the Boo Boo's but in the words of my daughter Kate"Band aids will help with them"!

Greg Long is from my Clown College class of 88! He and I wrote with a few others the very first clown gag that made it to the final show that year, The Lie Detector gag!
Hope all is groovy on that side of the Mississippi!

Harry Kingston said...

You did and excellent job on painting that sign. And who knows maybe Mr. North will see your work and want you to paint some show trucks. This migh be some excellent money during the winter.
There are very few show painters anymore that do it.
Hope to see more of your great work on the blog.

Valérie Berta Torales said...

Hoping this will help you feel better about chosing the greatest profession on earth, my friend Sophie, three, only met you once but now considers you her best friend for life and can't stop talking about you (and Ryan.)
They're out there, just hard to make out some days...

Harry Kingston said...

You are a million percent right and to me show business is all about the young performers that will carry on the circus tradition.
Not a bunch of drunks that call themselves shows folks.
The first time I met Steve and Ryan they really impressed me greatly and to see real clowns.
Not whistle blowers but real clowns.
Now if we can only get Steve to comment on this blog?????
You got a great circus and I liked all of you do on KM.

SBK said...

Hey Steve, Doug's wife here (and no, my name's not Jennie, and the nickname is a long story, but...)

My dtr-in-law, her 2 girls and I caught your 4:30 show on Wednesday in Columbus, and enjoyed it immensely. We were the ones sitting with Doug, NATCH. Also, you and Ryan both signed the older one's pennant, if that reminds you (the Net being what it is, I withhold their actual names).

Younger girl is 4, and doesn't quite understand clown humor, or even the circus in general, but she enjoys it. That aside, she was laughing out loud at your sink gag (especially when the water came out of your ears). And later, when her mom asked what was her favorite part, she said, "when they were trying to fix the sink."

So there's a 4-year-old's perspective for you, and clowning's really for the little ones, isn't it?

6-year-old was thrilled that you both signed her hand-made (sircuses r funee: it's kindergarten spelling) pennant. And she laughed at everything.

Thanks to all at Kelly Miller for making such a good experience for our grandgirls. And say-hey to John Moss, whom I met in Atlanta last year when he was with Big Apple, though he probably doesn't remember.

Also, the aforementioned Doug described you both as "classic clowns." Doesn't get much better than that!!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever memorize your lines so we can reenact the old lady scene in the wolf man movie?!?!?!

Jaded Drunk Circus Performer

Anonymous said...

This former show painter and sometime clown always wore gloves. They covered up paint,callouses,dirty nails and kept the wardrobe illusion going. As a kid I remember staring at a clowns hands and thinking he cant be real because his hands are just like everyone elses. My clean white gloves always said to parents that I was concerned about details and cleanliness which is especially important today. To sell coloring books and paint faces I wore colored gloves with the ends cut out. Any action that you do with your hands in the act is accentuated when you draw attention to them by wearing gloves. I hope that you will consider keeping the gloves.
John Mowder