Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 24-26: McAllen, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

On Wednesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for a 45 mile drive. It took me forever to complete it!
First I was blocked in by some show trucks, so I had to wait awhile to get off the lot, then I stopped to get fuel (after going down a one way street the wrong way since I missed my turn) only to pull up to a non diesel truck pump. There was no way for me to turn around in the small area, so I just moved on.
A few minutes later I looked in one of my side mirrors to see that my trailer door was open. I pulled off the highway onto the frontage road and found a place to pull over. I had pulled up where a huge mud puddle was at my door, so I didn't have much leverage to get it closed well (you really have to push the bottom of my door to get it to stick).
I got back on the highway just to see the door open again 10 minutes later. This time I pulled over on the side of the highway and gave my door a mighty push to keep it closed.
To top it all off, I got stuck in rush hour traffic going into town!

I was rewarded for my long, stressful journey by finding that we were on a nice grassy lot right next to the highway. We are just a block over from last year's lot which means there is plenty of shopping and eateries nearby.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, but the wind had a chill to it. Ryan and I made squibs until we got Tatiana and went to see the movie "The Wolfman". I wasn't expecting to like it, but I did enjoy the film. It could have been a little shorter though.

Jessi had found Taschen's circus photo book at Barnes & Noble for $20, so I called Ryan, who was there later on in the day, and had him pick me up a copy.

I took a nap this afternoon and slept through my alarm. Jessi woke me up just in time to get into make up for the show. This put me in a grumpy mood, and the small, unresponsive crowd we had for the first show didn't help matters.
I was more than a bit snarky over the microphone for opening. Bad Steve.

Valerie took our picture for the program after we were done with the number. Speaking of programs, does anyone have a copy or three from last year? I was a schmuck and didn't pick up a copy for myself or my family.
If anyone out there has copies they are willing to spare, please e-mail me at

There was a little kid sitting right by where I set Jessi's web, and he would not leave me alone for the whole number.
He kept yelling to me while I was trying to concentrate. Finally I turned to him while spinning Jessi slowly and said, "I'm kinda busy, buddy!"

In the exterminator gag I was running with our wooden ladder over my head when I slipped and fell, bringing all my weight down on the ladder. This caused one leg to break off; Ryan took a beat and then whacked me over the head with one of the breakaway rungs.
This was the perfect topper for how my show was going.

After the show a father called me over to see a little girl that I had met last year. She had been afraid of clowns until she met me. Apparently I didn't do a very good job, because she was afraid of getting a picture with me this time! She was fine just talking with me though.

We had another small crowd for the second show, but I was in a much better mood even though it was freaking cold outside!

Ryan and I tried out a new bit in the jukebox gag, which got a laugh, so that improved my mood even more.

We had a delicious BBQ inside Casey and Natalie's trailer tonight. When we were done eating we started watching "The Hangover". It was a perfect ending to the day.

On Thursday, I still couldn't get my sewage tank to empty; I am going to have the RV guy, who is coming to the lot tomorrow, look at it.

Mr. Fusco held a tap dancing class for me and Ryan this morning so we can put a nice dance at the end of the table act.

Nikki and I went over to the shopping center next to the lot to have sushi for lunch, and a little later I ventured back over to go to Barnes & Noble and Game Stop. Tatiana gave me a $50 gift card for B & N that I have been dying to use, but this store didn't carry a single one of the books I am looking for.
I did make a purchase at Game Stop: Lego Indiana Jones. I got it for Jessi to play, since she is a big fan of the Lego games.

Back at the lot Ryan and I glued our wooden ladder back together and I put a new battery in the gun (Duracell: The Preferred Battery of the Kelly Miller Clown Alley).

We had a decent sized crowd for the first show, but boy were they dead! The second show's crowd was bigger and had a lot more energy.

After the shows Jessi, Carla, and I watched a DVD that Nikki had made us of the Lennon Bros. Circus 2009 show. That is the Australian circus that the twins were on last year.

On Friday Ryan and I started our day off with another bright and early Fusco dance rehearsal. We are picking things up very quickly and have even put together a little trial routine.
I bashed my left knee when I messed up my footing on a manuever where we run up to the table, jump, and push off with one foot. I must have bruised a bone, because it was bothering me for the rest of the day.

The RV guy showed up today. I told him about all of the things I needed done to the trailer (chiefly my tank problem), and he gave me some solutions.

At 1:00 p.m. we took the 2010 Kelly Miller company photo, which didn't take long at all. I got cleaned up afterwards and went with Nikki to get coffee.

Jessi was out doing laundry today, so I walked to the laundromat so I could borrow her car. I drove to Home Depot to get what I needed for my tank, and then I went back by the laundromat just in time to help Jessi fold the last of our clothes and take them back to the lot.

We almost had a full house for the first show. I was limping a bit due to my bruised bone, but it got better as the night progressed.

David Dunn, a blog reader and fan who I met last year, came to the second show with his family and another blog reader/fan, Tejano.
David's son, Jonathan's, 6th birthday is tomorrow, so I got them tickets for the show. They got to see us with our first packed house of the season.

March 1-Mercedes, TX
March 2-Rio Hondo, TX
March 3-Lyford, TX

Mud Photos From Brownsville

Here's what we did 11 days and two six packs in:

February 22-23: San Benito, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

On Monday I woke up at 6:00 a.m. for the morning call but no one seemed to be awake. After I got dressed I went outside to investigate.
People were up, but everyone was still stuck in the mud, only a few feet from the road. Danny, who hadn't even gone to bed, and Leslie pulled everyone onto the road.
I once again crawled through the mud to get the chain around my front axel.

I was finally on the road by 7:30 a.m., and was at the San Benito lot after a short 15 mile drive.
The lot had standing water and mud, but not nearly as bad as what we came from. At least the tent was on gravel.

Nikki and Carla came over to have tea with me and Jessi until their house showed up. Once everything was parked, Ryan and I spent all day cleaning off our props and costumes in the sunshine.
It took us a good two or three hours to get everything mud free. I must not have reckoned on the power of the sun (after seeing so little of it in Brownsville), because I got a hellacious burn on the back of my neck.

Before the show I took a nap to add some more sleep time to the three hours I got last night (but, like I said, some people didn't even get to go to bed, so I can't really complain!).

We had a decent sized crowd at the first show; I couldn't believe how much easier everything was without having to wade through yards of ankle deep mud!

We had a smaller crowd for the second show. One man in the front row was stoically watching the table act with his arms crossed the whole time. When he didn't clap for us during our bows, Ryan (who plays the goof in the act) jumped into the seating section and pulled a Peter Pitofsky, ravaging the poor man senseless.
Reports say that the man was having a great time while watching the exterminator gag in the second half.

The pump truck was going to empty sewage tanks after the shows, but it got stuck after servicing the first trailer. We observed the whole ordeal from our BBQ.

On Tuesday morning Gonzo attempted to empty my tank, but it is still clogged. He poured half a jug of chemical in the tank and told me that he would try again tomorrow.

Jessi, Nikki, and I went to the Harligen mall with the Cainans this afternoon. It wasn't a very good mall, but I did pick up a new video game and a couple of shirts (Casey and I actually purchased the same shirt, so I kept making jokes about how one day we are going to match).

Back at the trailer I played my new game, Aliens Vs. Predator, and stayed indoors. The wind really picked up and was blowing like crazy. The temperature also dropped considerably; to put it lightly, it was pretty freakin' cold!

I stayed inside until I absolutely had to leave to start the first show, which had an average sized crowd. Even though there weren't a lot of them, they had a ton of energy.

During the tiger act the generator started billowing out black smoke, and just moments later we had our first power outage of the year, during the tiger act.
Within just a minute or so (which I'm sure seemed even longer for Casey), the electricians had routed everything to the back up generator in the pole truck.

We had a small crowd for the second show; loading our props throughout the show was very easy due to a) the lack of terrible mud b) having my truck unhooked and c) being so close to the back door.

We had power all night since it was freezing outside. Damn Canadians leaving the door to the country open....

Show Location: McAllen, TX through February 28

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 20-21: Brownsville, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday the sun came out, but there was nothing it could do about the horrible mud and standing water all over the lot.
Jessi and I stayed in all day playing Lego Star Wars on XBox.

We had a good sized crowd for the first show, which was Nikki and Carla's first. Yesterday was Becky's last day performing with us.

In between shows I got my truck hooked up to my trailer. I was then going to jack knife the truck so that we could get props in and out of the back, but I got stuck trying to go forward again.
Although this made the prospects for tear down a lot dimmer, I was relieved that I at least got my trailer hooked up in all the mud.

We had an almost full second and third show. The mud just wore me down today; it took so much energy to just get to and from my trailer for costume changes, let alone the energy exuded in the ring.
On top of that I felt so dirty with my shoes and hands coated in mud almost the whole time.
The exterminator gag costumes are awful; we each have only one suit due to a "wardrobe malfunction" on Ryan's two jumpsuits, and the ones we have are spattered with mud from falling down and rolling around on the dirty ring mat.
Thankfully the third show audience was a lot of fun and gave me my second wind.

After the shows I joined Nikki over at Casey and Natalie's trailer for some Wii playing. Casey also concocted a drink that "knocked my dick in my watch pocket" (a Chandler-ism).
I didn't get home and in bed until 3:30 in the morning.

On Sunday I slept late (big surprise) and went to Starbucks with Nikki before we had to start work.

There was a good sized crowd for the first show; all throughout the performance Ryan and I kept referring to ourselves as the "Dirtiest Clowns In Showbiz" in reference to the state of our shoes, props, and costumes.

Finally I started cleaning stuff off in between shows just so I wouldn't feel like a filthy hog. Despite this, everything was a mess again by the time we finished the second show, which prompted a "Screw It!" mentality in regards to cleanliness until we get to the next lot.

The last two shows were almost full; I'm sure that something eventful happened, but all that I had on my mind was getting out of my dirty clothes, washing my make up off, and getting off the lot!

Loading our props after the show was interesting, due to me being hooked up to the trailer. We managed to slide the table into the back with the legs off, and then we lifted our cart and box of exterminator tools into the room in the side of the truck.
Well....that is how it was supposed to happen.
As we were lifting the cart up, the box tumbled off and landed top down in the mud. Just one more prop we will have to clean off tomorrow.

I got my trailer all ready to go, but I didn't even get pulled to the edge of the lot until close to 3 a.m.
I fell asleep in the cab of the truck for about an hour while I was waiting. When Chris and Danny came to pull me, the tow ring on the front of my truck got yanked right off by the chain attached to the tractor.
I had to crawl down in the mud and loop the chain over my front axle to get pulled; on top of it all the battery wouldn't start, so I just put it in neutral and slid along.

When I got into bed there were still show trucks and trailers left to be pulled off. I did not envy the guys still working on until morning call.

February 24-28: McAllen, TX

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 19: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Jessi and I had another quick web practice today at 1:00 p.m. When we were done we took Carla to Target so she could pick up some necessities.
She had to get right back for rehearsals, so we dropped her off at the lot and then turned around and went to the mall.
It was nice to just wander and not have to be around the circus for a little while.

There was no rain today, but the standing water and mud on the lot was very bad.

We had a decent sized crowd for the first show. The camel act is out for the rest of the weekend due to the horrible terrain, so Mike and Carolyn did their mule act in its place.

Everyone was in web tonight for the first time. Jessi and I did well; my only difficulty was in getting Jessi to spin in slow circles.

We had a good sized crowd for the second show, and web went a lot smoother for me and Jessi.

Backstage got nasty from all the foot traffic through the flooded ground. It is impossible to keep any footwear or props clean by the curtain.

After the show when Ryan and I were taking down the rigging for the exterminator gag I accidentally stepped on the yellow fabric covering our bungee and left a big muddy boot print. We were so upset!

The Cainans, the Combs, the Ogles, Radar, Becky, Jessi, and I all went to Buffalo Wild Wing's across the street after the last show.
I had a great time talking, drinking, and eating hot wings!

February 22-23: San Benito, TX

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 17-18: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

On Wednesday Jessi and I had web practice at noon. While we were there we met the twin Ogle sisters, Nikki and Carla, from Australia.
Nikki will be doing her trapeze act in the show and Carla will be a showgirl.

Once we were done with rehearsal I drove to the mall to get away from the circus for awhile; it was nice to get some alone time.

I was feeling under the weather for the shows tonight. I think I may be getting sick; I made sure to get as much Vitamin C as possible throughout the night.

We had a good sized crowd for the first show; however, neither the guns or the chickens worked for the exterminator gag.
Next year we are doing low prop, easy gags! Ring Ring, Tide, Bigger Bigger, and Four Chairs here we come!

We had a good sized crowd for the second show. As we were doing opening, Ryan spotted a couple huddling under one jacket, so he made a two headed man joke.
I threw out a line from the Simpsons to make Natalie laugh, "We'll put him on display and charge two bits a gander!"

Finally we had a turn of luck in the exterminator gag. The gun worked again (we had bad squibs the show before), and the chicken drop sort of worked. We found out that we need to keep the drop bag a longer distance from the beehive so the chickens can fall out easily.

After the shows we had the first America's Own Bar & Grill BBQ of the season. I had missed them a lot; it was great to have one again.

On Thursday it rained all day. Oh joy of laughter!
Jessi and I hung around the trailer all day waiting to get our sewage tank dumped, but they didn't get the truck on the lot before it started getting soft again. Guess we'll have to wait until Los Fresnos.

While we were waiting, I sloshed over to the tent to help Ryan, Tatiana, and Casey fix the slide table.
The cables running between the table legs were coming loose, so we fixed the problem with stronger cable.

Finally Jessi and I couldn't take it anymore, so we left the lot for awhile just to get out.
I bought thank you gifts for me and Ryan to give to people that helped us out in Winter Quarters and for the opening of the season.

We had a small crowd for the first show. I wasn't too surprised considering the rain and all the standing water on the lot.
The backyard and backstage were flooded; there was no way to keep anything dry or clean.

We learned a few things in the slide table act tonight. One was that the table is really hard to slide on when it is wet.
Another is that Converse are horrible sneakers for traction. We were slipping and sliding all over the place. We had to run very carefully on the ring mat.

The good news is that everything worked in the exterminator gag. Saints be praised!

We had an even smaller crowd at the second show. Lame!

The laws of gravity were out to get us tonight. First Ryan slipped and fell in the table act; then I fell chasing Jessi out of the web number. Ryan started cackling immediately because he is a good friend.

The final coup de grace of the evening was when I stepped in a big mud hole after the exterminator gag and got my Converse sneaker soaked. I washed both shoes out in the shower after the show and set the heater on them.

Nikki and Carla, the Ogle sisters, came over to the trailer tonight to hang out with me and Jessi. We attempted to watch a couple of movies, but we ended up just talking until the power went out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 15-16: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

On Monday after school was out Jessi and I borrowed Casey and Natalie's truck to drive to McAllen so we could pick up Jessi's car.

While we were there, I went back to the Green Beret store to exchange the carabiners I had bought for more heavy duty ones. Unfortunately they didn't have the kind I was looking for.
I can't believe how much time and money we have wasted on this trip only to not get what we needed.

Back at the lot Jessi and I ran the web routine one time; after that I did what I should have done a long time ago, ordered the carabiners I needed online.

We had an average sized crowd for the first show. During the web number a child was hitting me with his light up sword while I danced on the ring curb. I picked up a nearby fire extinguisher and threatened to spray him, which made Mr. North laugh.

Ryan and I did some more tweaking to the exterminator gag. I think we are still on the right track to getting the gag where we want it.
As we exited the tent, the first thing we saw was Buckner attempting to eat fire. I see that he is starting off big with his shenanigans this year!

We had a smaller crowd for the second show. I thought they were going to be dead, but they enjoyed our gags.

I was in a bad mood for the second show, and my mood just kept getting worse as little things continued to go wrong throughout the evening.
The topper was when I was almost late to the exterminator gag. Ryan, Jessi, and I were all talking in my trailer; when I went outside to put my shoes on I heard the ending music of the act before us. I threw on my shoes and ran to the back door just in time to enter for the gag.

Needless to say I was glad when the day ended.

On Tuesday I took Natalie and Radar to do laundry. While our clothes were washing I went to get us some food.
I couldn't find the cup holders in Jessi's car, so I put Natalie's hot coffee between my legs.
Bad idea.
When I pulled up to the laundromat scalding coffee spilled all over my left leg giving me burns on my thigh.
Luckily a pair of my jeans had just finished drying, so I slipped into those and finished with my other clothes.

Jessi and I had another web practice at noon; I was finally feeling more comfortable as a web setter after this run through.
When we were done we both went shopping to pick up things for the trailer. I was feeling lousy the whole time; the sore throat I had that started this morning was really flaring up.

Casey had a PR in McAllen this afternoon with his baby tiger, Rajah, but he made it back in time to do his act in its usual spot for the first show.

Before the show started a friend of the North's took a picture of me and Ryan that he can use for a limited edition painting that he will be doing.
How can you purchase one of these paintings? Stay tuned for more details.

We had a decent sized crowd for the first show and a good sized crowd for the second show.

Today Tatiana fixed the double barreled shot gun for the exterminator gag, so it was back in.
Jessi made my walkaround costume a lot easier to get into today. Thank God for the women in our lives!
(Also, while we are talking about costumes, a big thank you to Tatiana and her sister, Natalia, who made the costumes for our gags this year!)

I was in a much better mood today than I was yesterday. We had people film our gags so we could see what read well and what needed fixing.

After the shows were over Ryan and I stayed in the tent and fixed the drop gimmick for the rubber chickens.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 13-14: Brownsville, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

Ah, the first six pack of the season. As much as six packs are a pain in the neck, at least this one is at the beginning of the season when everyone has fresh energy. Also, what better way to get all the kinks out of the show than running it three times a day!

On Saturday I spent a good amount of time outside enjoying the warm, sunny weather. I took a bucket of water and a rag with me so I could clean off my clown shoes and costumes that had gotten a lot of mud on them.

We had an almost full crowd for the first show. I had a good laugh at the end of the exterminator gag at Ryan's expense.
When Ryan is bungeeing from the beehive, I pull out a double barreled shotgun (bought from the Greg DeSanto collection [talk about big comedy shoes to fill]) and fire off two shots.
One shot sends down a bunch of rubber chickens (because if Spike Jones taught us anything, it is that rubber chickens fall from the sky when a gun is fired) and the second shot sends Ryan crashing to the ground.
Well, that is the way it is supposed to happen!
When I fired the first shot, only a few chickens dropped. I fired the second shot and Ryan plummeted to earth. As he was getting up all the rest of the chickens came down on top of him!
If only we could get it to work that way every show!

The sky clouded over during the first show, so we didn't get a full day to enjoy the sunshine.

We had full houses for both the second and third shows. In the tiger chase of the third show I was a human pinball.
First I hit a guy wire with the tiger head; I turned around and started threatening it, which got a big laugh.
I was standing on a few ring curbs when I motioned to Ryan for us to do another run around. As I stepped down, my foot got caught in between two ring curbs and I wiped out onto my back, which got another big laugh from the audience (and Ryan, who could barely hold it together for the rest of the chase).
If doing the tiger chase has taught me anything, it is that people love to see mascots get hurt.

We had an awesome slide table gag in the first half of the third show, but we had an off second half. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Once we were done I went over to the H.E.B to buy sushi so Jessi and I could celebrate the end of the three show day properly.

On Sunday a group of us were going to go to IHOP for breakfast, but Casey saw long lines out the door when he scouted the location earlier in the morning.
I decided that I was too lazy to walk two miles and then stand in line for stuffed French toast, so I stayed at the lot to enjoy cookhouse, which is excellent this year.

I was really feeling the drain of the six pack early this afternoon, so I took a nap before our first show. It turned out to be a smart move; I felt great all day.

We had a full first show; after it was over Ryan and I were putting away our rigging from the exterminator gag when a few fans from last year came over to catch me for some photos and some time to talk. It's nice to be remembered....favorably.

Our second show was full as well. Unfortunately the wiring in the shotgun and the gimmick to release the rubber chickens both went on the fritz, so we had to do a quick rewrite of the end of the exterminator gag until we can get the supplies to fix those problems.
Also, as we were carrying the slide table out in the first half, two of the legs fell off!
Luckily the prop guys ran over and fixed the legs while Ryan and I improvised in the front of the ring until the problem was solved.
Boy am I glad we have those guys watching our backs! Looks like we will be busy fixing things tomorrow.

The second show was just an off show for us. Thankfully, the third show (which was almost full) was a great one.
We cut some bits out of the exterminator gag which really helped the pacing. Tomorrow we are going to implement some more changes. Once we get those in effect and get the gun and chickens back, I think we are going to have a heck of a gag!

Casey and Natalie came over to the trailer tonight to watch embarrassing old footage of me clowning as a kid. The liquor that Casey brought over was much needed for me to endure the torture.

While we were hanging out, the wind picked up out of nowhere and blew in a storm. Casey and Natalie ran back home to put the dogs away.
The wind continued all through the night, rocking the trailer.
Isn't it sad that I needed the wind to make my trailer rock on Valentine's Day?!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 11-12: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.

On Thursday morning Ryan, Jessi, and I set out to find Academy, a shop that we were told might sell locking carabiners. They did not.
Luckily we were able to scrounge together three of them thanks to contributions from Jessi and Becky.

We had a show meeting early this afternoon to cover rules, and then we had a brief finale rehearsal.

We intended to do a show run through, but we stopped at Intermission. Thankfully they let us run the Exterminator gag so we could do it full out one more time before our first show.

We had an average sized crowd for our first show of the season, and a small crowd for our second show of the evening.
The second audience had a lot more fun with us; the opening that Ryan and I do in the show is very informal and it allows us to establish a nice rapport with the people.
There's also a burp joke in it.

Other people have listed the show running order on their blogs, but I suppose I will do it here lest some people complain to me.

Opening- Me, Ryan, & John Moss
Tigers- Casey McCoy Cainan
Tiger Chase- Me & Ryan
Trapeze- Becky Ostroff (until the Ogle sisters arrive from Australia)
Camels- Mike Rice & Belly Dancers
Coloring Book Pitch
Juggling- Raul Olivares
Peanut Pitch
50's Opening- Me, Ryan, & John Moss
Hula Hoops- Showgirls with featured spot for Cathy Poema
Rola Bola- Fridman Torales & Courtney Heidenreich
Slide Table Gag- Me, Ryan, & Tatiana
Dogs- Natalie Cainan
Web- North Starlets


Walkarounds- Me & Ryan
Risley- The Poemas
Dogs & Pony- Carolyn Rice
Exterminator Gag- Me & Ryan
Elephants- Armando Loyal & The Ladies
Wind Up Elephant- Raul Olivares & Pinky
Fire Eating- Brian LaPalme
Finale- Cast

I would love to tell you more about the other acts, but as you can see, Ryan and I are in the show almost every other act! We spend a lot of time changing costumes during the show, and we have a couple of quick changes.
The good news is we aren't part of any pitches, and we don't have to sign coloring books during Intermission.
That time is spent rigging the exterminator gag and getting into our cumbersome third arm rigs for walkarounds.

I'd like to say that our opening night was a piece of cake, but the horrible mud in the back door and tent did not make it so.
Every prop, costume, and especially every pair of shoes was covered with mud; I guess it is a fitting way for us to start off the new season considering how last year went.
Not only was it muddy; there was also strong cold winds blowing and occasional rain throughout the night!

By the time we were done I was dead tired from such a physically and emotionally draining day. I did summon enough energy for a midnight shopping run over a H.E.B with Jessi. We celebrated the beginning of our season by making cookies and drinking hot toddies.

On Friday morning I borrowed Jessi's car to drive to McAllen so I could purchase some locking carabiners. I searched all over the Internet, and the only place I could find that carried them near Brownsville was the Green Beret store in McAllen, which is an hour away.

When I was just three miles from the store, Jessi's car started losing power. I was pushing the pedal to the floor, but the car just kept going slower and slower.
I crawled off the highway and into a dirt lot next to a frontage road. Once I had stopped I couldn't even get the engine to start back up again. I called Jessi, who borrowed Casey's truck to come get me.
Her car insurance had roadside assistance, so we had a tow truck come and take the vehicle to Pep Boys.
The problem was a blown alternator. Jessi left her car in McAllen, and we drove Casey's truck back to the lot just in time to eat dinner (yet another delicious meal from our cook, Brian LaPalme) and get ready for the first show.
We will go back to McAllen on Monday to get Jessi's car. It is a good thing too, because although I did make it to the Green Beret store, I managed to buy the wrong kind of locking carabiners...


There was an average sized crowd for the first show, and the tent was 3/4 full for the second show.
We had an off night for the slide table gag, and we have started tweaking bits in the exterminator gag. It is not as strong as the table act, but we plan to make it so.

The mud wasn't as bad today; it had time to dry when the sun decided to make an appearance.
Everything is still dirty though! I need to do some cleaning pretty soon.

The shows seemed much easier tonight. Part of it was the fact that there wasn't as much mud to tromp through. Another part of it was that I have started to find moments during the show where I can rest.
It is a little tough though because the generator truck is turned so you can't really hear the show unless you are standing right in the back door.

We had a little scare in the second exterminator gag; when I closed the lid of the box on Ryan's head, one of the squibs on the double barreled shot gun exploded.
I wish I could have seen my face!
As I stood there with Ryan's head stuck in a box and smoke billowing around me, I am ashamed to say that I made a fart joke.
The gag was also eventful because Ryan drew first blood of the season when he cut himself on the cable ladder.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wednesday, February 10: Brownsville, TX

Jessi and I got up early this morning so we could go to Home Depot and Lowe's and pick up some equipment needed for the exterminator gag rigging.
Unfortunately our trip was in vain, because we bought the wrong things. Later on in the day Danny went back with me to Lowe's so we could exchange some things.
I ended up making a third trip to Lowe's to exchange even more equipment. Thank God for Danny and Tavana; they have helped us so much with figuring out this stupid gag!

There were rehearsals going on in the tent from 8 a.m. until midnight. If Ryan and I weren't in the ring working our gags with Lucky, Vicky, and John, then we were bugging Danny about our rigging needs.

Everything went very well for us in rehearsal. We found ways to make the exterminator gag less dependent on other people, which I think will help us immensely in the long run.

Jessi is doing web before Intermission, and she dragged me into the number to be her web setter (grumble grumble). As Carolyn Rice and Becky Ostroff coached me on the finer points of web setting, I realized that I had never felt more unprepared for something in my life!

Before we called it a night, Ryan and I did another rehearsal of our opening with Vicky since there were so many music cues.
We were in a very loopy mood after working our butts off all day, so we were pretty wild on the microphones (that's right, microphones! We are on mic for the opening...what a terrible idea!). We were cracking each ourselves up, not to mention the folks watching; it was a nice way to blow off some steam.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From WQ To Brownsville, TX: An Exercise in Reaganomics

January 11-February 9

Ever since I arrived in Paris, TX a month ago, I have been uber busy preparing the gags for this year's show with Ryan.
Ryan did the majority of the work as far as carving and sculpting goes, but I did a fair amount of latexing and painting.
I would love to show you some sneak peaks of our props, but unfortunately one person has already taken one of our prop designs verbatim and is selling it online. Therefore, he has spoiled it for everybody else (Don't you hate it when that happens!?).
We didn't do all the work on our props though. Big thanks go out to Jeffery Potts for sculpting out a big, freakin' beehive out of some heavy duty foam, Alex Zaprudsky for logo designs, and Casey, Danny, and Radar for help building our slide table. Danny and Tavana have also helped us out by lending rigging and aerial equipment as well as freely sharing their knowledge.

I am very excited about the show this year; I think it has the potential to be great. The props and costumes alone look awesome, and we are going to look stylish rolling on to the lots thanks to the trucks having new paint jobs courtesy of the WQ crew and master truck painter, Bob Rawls.

That's not even the best one! More pictures to come.

Ryan and I each have our own rigs now. I bought Casey and Natalie's old truck and trailer

and Ryan bought a big, honkin' motor home.

Let me tell you, having a trailer sure beats living in the leaky, hot/cold, black mold and mushroom infested generator room! (Ask me how I feel in a few months after the repair bills start piling up)
The important thing is that I have plenty of storage for my most treasured commodity!

I also have my own personal caricature on the truck thanks to the artwork of Bob Rawls. It was my Christmas present from Casey.

What else happened? Oh yeah! Ryan got married! Ryan and his girlfriend, Tatiana Fusco, tied the knot in late January in Hugo, OK (romance capital of the state).

I was on hand to rock the reception with my "honorary best man" speech. It was truly a highlight of the evening...for me.

Sorry if this news disappoints anyone that still thought that Ryan and I were a couple. Congratulations Combsezzes!

And then there is Pato....
Something happened to my "special little guy" since I last saw him. I think Casey must have toughened him up by letting him spar with the tigers, because when I finally saw him again, he bit my finger so hard that he drew blood.
My duck hates me! He's turned into a little bastard!

I just hope that with time and love he will come around. Otherwise he is getting sold to a Chinese restaurant in Brownsville.

Speaking of wild animals, Casey got a new male tiger cub that he named, Rajah.
I would have named him Efram!
I was cermeoniously introduced to him when Casey dumped Rajah in the cab of my truck.

It was a lot of fun to play with a baby tiger, something I have always wanted to do!

Departure from WQ was delayed two days due to a) waiting on drivers to arrive and b) bad weather in Brownsville. What!? Bad weather at Kelly Miller?!

Finally we left on Saturday, February 6th. I was nervous at first about hauling a trailer, but thanks to expert coaching from Casey, I had no problem driving to Cleveland, TX (the halfway point of our jump) without any bodily or property damage

I was actually the first one to arrive at the park where the show was sitting. When I pulled up, I noticed that both the gates were locked!
I pulled into the parking lot across the street and called Jim Royal. I was instructed to go to the police station next door to get the key to unlock the gates.
Once I had that accomplished, I parked myself; just minutes later, the cookhouse arrived.
Everyone seemed to arrive without incident (so far so good!). I did manage to park myself so an ant bed was right outside my door though. D'OH!

After having all afternoon and evening to relax, I was ready and raring to go at 7:30 a.m. the next morning.
I was told not to rush because Chris was in the process of finding us a place to park outside of Brownsville. The lot we are going to be on for 11 days is flooded!

The second part of the drive was no problem for me; I even managed to swing into a station to put some air in my low trailer tires.

Chris parked us at an airport about 20 miles from Brownsville. After getting everything in my trailer set, I hung out with Ryan and the Fuscos until my friend, Jessi showed up.
Jessi was the clown on Culpepper Merriweather Circus last year and this year she is going to be our teacher until summer; she will also be doing showgirl duties.

We spent the evening getting her moved in and catching up until we decided to go find some dinner.

Monday morning I found out that we were not moving to the Brownsville lot yet again. So much for three days of show rehearsal!

The generator was turned on and everyone was hooked up to power (Praise the Lord! All my food in the fridge was on the brink of going bad) and all of our water tanks were filled.

Jessi wanted to meet some of her soon to be students, so I introduced her to some of the families on the show.

In the evening we went with Armando, Natalia, Ryan, Tatiana, and the Fuscos to go see Circus Vazquez. What a beautiful show!

The set up, lighting, and tent were all top notch. I had a great time watching the show as well; I was dead set on not liking the clown based on video footage I had seen before, but I ended up enjoying him.
He had a lot of energy, he was entertaining to watch, the people loved him, and he made me laugh. He did do some vulgar stuff that I don't think he necessarily needed, but to each their own. I'm sure some people think we don't need excessive violence in our gags (the truth is that it helps us work through our problems).
Many thanks to Armando's brother, the production manager, who got us seats.

Tuesday it was announced that we were finally going to the Brownsville lot. It was a lot of hurry up and wait though. The first wave of vehicles was sent to the lot only to sit on the side of the road since the tractor hadn't show up yet.
Once it did and those rigs were on the lot, everybody else started heading out.
I was the second to last to arrive (around 2:30 p.m.) and I pulled into my spot with no problem.

The lot wasn't too muddy, but I was told that a lot of water had been drained from the ground over the past couple of days.

Ryan and I made use of our time the best that we could. We made squibs while watching "The Funhouse".

In the evening we had a meeting to discuss rehearsals. We were only going to have one day of practice before the show opened on Thursday. Hooray!

With the help of Danny, Fridman, and John, Ryan and I attempted to rig the exterminator gag. A lot of things went unresolved due to equipment we needed to buy, but at least some things were figured out.

February 11-21: Brownsville, TX