Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Dragon, A Dragon, I Swear I Saw A Dragon!

Hello everyone,

From now on I will be using one of my Christmas presents to write the blog. I am using the program Dragon, which uses voice-recognition software to type whatever I am saying.

Right now I'm wearing a microphone headset which makes me look like I've taken a new job working for a telemarketing firm.

I believe that this program will allow me to write my blog entries more easily... once I get the hang of it of course.

Stay tuned for more in-depth update tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to our family, friends, and fans! Thank you for all of your support.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 17: New Bedford, MA-4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Ryan, Tatiana, and I got very little sleep after we arrived at Ryan's grandparents' house. I at least got a few more winks than Ryan and Tatiana did; Nico woke up at 7 a.m., two hours after they had gone to bed.

Ryan's grandparents took us and Ryan's uncle, Kevin, to lunch at a great Brazilian BBQ/buffet, and then we began the hour and a half drive to New Bedford.

We were playing a nice auditorium; I am pleased that it was our venue for the final shows.

Today was Nico's first birthday! It was very serendipitous that our show played Massachussetts today, since Ryan's family could make it for the party.

photos by Patricia Rivers

Nico loved opening and playing with his presents, and most importantly, he enjoyed chowing down on cake.

My friend, Joy, her mother, Elizabeth, and her boyfriend, Zhang, came to watch the first show. Ryan's family also stuck around to show their support.

I was happy that we had big crowds for both shows and that the audiences were great (especially for the second performance).

By the end of the day, we were all drop dead exhausted, especially Nico (partying is hard work). I was happy to get back to the air mattress at Ryan's grandparents' house so I could catch some more sleep.

Thank you to everyone from "Twas The Gift Show Before Christmas" for a successful tour.

Coming soon, my NYC vacation!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 15 and 16: Folsom, PA-5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

All of us were feeling sick on Thursday morning; it wasn't a fun drive to Folsom.

My one memory of the town of Folsom is that in the past no one wanted to get their face painted. That held true this year; we did very poor business in that respect.

I was happy that my friends from Hungary came to visit. When I first started doing the Christmas tour back in 2007, I was working the crowd and somehow found out that a family (grandfather, grandmother, and three girls) was Hungarian.

I told them about my Hungarian friends from Ringling, and I showed off my rusty skill with the language.

Every year they come to see the show (and me), and every year we take a picture.

I was sad that this year there were only two girls. I found out that one of them is in high school now; I guess she is too old for clowns now. Sniff......

We play Folsom for two days every year, so it was nice to just leave everything in the theatre for the night.

After work the cast continued our annual tradition of going out to eat at Applebee's after the shows.

The second day in Folsom we got laundry done, and I also took the rental minivan to get an oil change. We have put A LOT of miles on it in two weeks!

Our clown friends, Chris Shelton and Keith Crabbs, came to see the shows the second night; I was happy that they visited, but I wish we had been able to visit with them longer. They did bring a big case of Guinness as a gift, so that made me feel a little better...

We were crazy busy with face painting for the two shows. Quite a reversal from our usual business in Folsom.

The audiences were bigger for the second night as well, and they were a lot more responsive. It was definitely a good day.

After we were done with work we jumped in the minivan and drove straight through to Ryan's maternal grandparents' house in Marlborough, MA.

My head hit the pillow around 5 a.m.

Thank goodness the driving madness will be over in a day!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Nico!

Happy 1st Birthday, Nicolas Christopher Fusco Combs!

Check back soon for the rest of the blog entries from the Christmas tour. Things have been insane the last few days, and I've barely had time to sleep, much less write a blog!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 13: Erie, PA-7:00 p.m. & December 14: Williamsport, PA-4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

On top of our 5 a.m. arrival in Erie, I didn't sleep very well. I got a phone call that woke me up pretty early, and then I couldn't get back to sleep.

We had a lot of visitors in Erie. Karen Deal, a friend of my friend, Katy Hughs, took some time out of her schedule to come hang out with me. Sue Marranconi, a local clown, brought some baked goods and attended the show with some members of her clown alley. Our friend, Eggroll, also showed up for a visit.

I am glad we had friendly faces in the audience, because it was a rough crowd. The fact that the average age of the audience was around 80 didn't help matters.

Apparently Nico was dancing and singing in his stroller during the show's overture. He had the whole section in front of him laughing; he's definitely his father's son...a ham!

A man and his daughter came up to us while we were face painting and said they remembered us from Kelly Miller when we played North East, PA earlier in the year. I thought it was cool that they recognized us.

After the show we had a 4 1/2 hour drive to Williamsport. Ryan and I were both falling asleep during the first leg of the trip. I finally had to pull in to a truck stop and get a 5 Hour Energy drink; it worked perfectly and we got to our hotel around 3 a.m.

There's not much to report from our stay in Williamsport. We play a nice auditorium there; parking is a bit of a pain though.

We had two big crowds, and we made bank at face painting. Ryan and I had a lot of fans come to say hello that remembered us from previous years.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 12: Hagerstown, MD-7:00 p.m.

Today we met our friends from the Freestate Clown Alley #30 at the Bulls and Bears Tavern where they treated us to lunch.
It was also a meeting of our CFA tent, the John Ringling North II/Steve & Ryan tent, where our logo was unveiled.

Pretty sweet, huh?!

Katy, from the Alley, made a speech, and then we all toasted the future of the tent with our non alcoholic champagne (which Nico now has a dependancy on).

The Alley presented us with tons of great gifts: scarves, hats, shirts, neck pillows, and patches all bearing our tent logo, gift baskets with fantastic snacks, and even SWANK bathrobes featuring the Steve & Ryan logo and our individual names embroidered on the front.
Nico even received his own robe, a Build A Bear teddy complete with tent logo hat, and other stuffed animals and books.

I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends; to be honest, I got a little choked up. Thank you so much Freestate Clown Alley #30! I cannot begin to say it enough.

We were playing the Maryland Theatre, which was old and beautiful on the inside. It reminded me a great deal of the Muppet Show theatre.

Ryan and I joked that we needed to heckle Santa from one of the boxes like Statler and Waldorf.

Our circus fan friend, Dick Flint, came to see the show, as well as our friends from the Clown Alley, so we got to do some visiting after the performance.

After work we went out to eat with some of our friends from the tour. We left for Erie, PA around midnight, and we pulled in to our hotel around 5 a.m. Wheeeee!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 11: Altoona, PA-1:00 p.m.

I was not feeling it when I woke up at 7 a.m. We had to leave McKeesport fairly early since it was a two hour drive to Altoona and there was an early show.
I also wanted to give ourselves extra time to account for bad weather. The last few times we have played Altoona there has been nasty weather (ice and snow); besides being cold though, the weather today was beautiful.

There was a big crowd for the show and they were a great audience. We had so much fun improvising during our first few appearances on stage.

Some members of the Adam Forepaugh/Barry Lubin CFA tent (including David Orr and Don Curtis) were at the show, and after it was over they treated us to a meal at a local steakhouse.

From our tour Larry, Cassidy, Gail, and Jason joined Ryan, Tatiana, Nico and myself for the meal.
The tent presented Nico with some gifts, and Don Curtis gave me a yummy looking sampler platter of holiday treats.
We had a great time, and we really appreciated the Forepaugh/Lubin tent's hospitality and generosity.

Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I later met up for a dinner my cousins, The Hiott family. They have a beautiful home, and we were fortunate that they invited us to stay with them for the evening.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 10: McKeesport, PA-4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

After our five hour drive and bedtime of 3:00 a.m., I was not ready to get out of bed this morning.
This was unfortunate since we had a lot we wanted to accomplish before our shows.

Monroeville (about 10 miles away from McKeesport) is the home of the Monroeville Mall, where one of my favorite zombie movies, Dawn of the Dead, was filmed back in the late 70s.
Every year on the Christmas tour, I make a pilgrimage there to bask in the zombie goodness.
There is a little museum with some props and memorabilia from the movie as well as zombie replicas; I could spend a whole day there!

In addition to that stop, we needed to go to JoAnn's Fabrics and Guitar Center, as well as Half Price Books.
Ok....we didn't HAVE to go to Half Price Books, but we sure wanted to!

On the drive to the high school, Ryan and I did a phone interview for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Ever try to drive, use GPS, and give funny and insightful interview answers? It isn't easy! Or safe!)
Mike, a photographer from the Post Gazette, who spent some time with us this past season, must have turned his editor on to my blog (hello!), because they found out we were going to be in the area.
Here is the article:
You can also find it in today's (Sunday) issue if you are in the Pittsburgh area. It isn't 100% accurate, but hey, it's free publicity!

I was dragging butt for the first show, but the second audience had a lot more energy, so I got my second wind.

The best part of the day was going out to dinner after the shows with some of our friends from the tour.
We all had a lot of fun talking and cracking each other up.

December 9: Philadelphia, PA-7:00 p.m.

We were able to get some laundry done before leaving Pottstown and heading to the "City of Brotherly Love".

Traffic was bad once we got into the city, even though it wasn't rush hour. I am glad we ended up traveling a bit early; I would have hated to drive to the school when everyone was getting off work.

We had one easy show tonight. The crowd was a bit crazy, but it was a good energy to feed off of.

Once we were done with the show we loaded up and drove the 5 hours to McKeesport, clear on the other side of the state. We were checked into our hotel around 3 a.m.

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 7: Day Off & December 8: Pottstown, PA-7:00 p.m.

We had a much needed day off on December 7th. When I first saw our route, I wondered if a free day wouldn't be better midway through the tour.
After the craziness of the first two days though, I was more than happy to relax a little bit!

Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I went to the King of Prussia Mall, which is HUGE! It is broken into two big buildings, each with a top and bottom floor jam packed with shops.
Later in the day I met my friend, Mary Kelly Rayel, and I took on the job of shopping assistant and bag holder. Then in the evening I treated her to dinner; what can I say, I know how to treat my girl clowns!

Our show in Pottstown was our first relaxed, easy show of the tour. The theater was fairly simple to load in and out of, and the show went off without a hitch.

Here's hoping the coming towns are the same....and the audiences aren't such cheapskates when it comes to face painting!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6: Lebanon, PA-7:00 p.m.

The Eagles' Club in Lebanon, PA is the most difficult venue we play on the Bill Hall Christmas tour. It has a small stage with extremely limited backstage space.
For the past couple of years Ryan and I have dressed in the kitchen area. It isn't very glamorous, but hey, it's showbiz!

Due to the difficulties the venue presented, Ryan and I had to help cover a couple of act set ups with some impromptu comedy. Gail also asked us to roll out a carpet for her act so the dogs wouldn't be sliding all over the wooden floor (a couple of acts had to work on the floor since the stage just wasn't big enough). We even had to go out and kneel on the corners of the carpet to keep it from moving around during the act.
On top of all of that, John Bundy, who plays Santa, asked us if we would try something new with him. He asked us to do a different opening and then to join him for all of the act introductions so there would be more continuity for the show.

Needless to say, the audience got to see plenty of Steve & Ryan. Maybe a little too much....
Lucky for us they loved us and still found us funny when our gag rolled around in the second half.

Between the craziness of opening day and the difficulties of Lebanon, we were ready for our day off on the 7th.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lancaster, PA-4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Today was the opening day for the Bill Hall Christmas Tour. We showed up at the Mennonite School (conveniently located right across the street from our hotel) about 3 hours before show time.

There always seems to be a shortage of time on the opening day of the tour, but today seemed especially hectic.
A lot of folks showed up close to show time, so the cast meeting was held behind the curtain while folks were entering the auditorium.

In fact, when show time rolled around, last minute preparations were still being made. Ryan and I went out and entertained the crowd while everything was settled.
It was actually a lot of fun and allowed us to shake the rust off our clowning. Neither of us has been in make up since the end of the KM season. (Ryan actually forgot the details of his make up process)

There was a small crowd for the first show, but that was actually beneficial for us. There wasn't huge pressure while we ironed out the kinks of the performance.

Here is the line up:

Welcome-Steve and Ryan
National Anthem and Overture-Larry Stout
Bicycles and Unicycles-The Rinney Family
Santa's Arrival-Steve & Ryan and John Bundy
Dogs-Gail Mirabella
Magic-Clive and Tracy Allen
Rola Bola-Jonathon Olivero
Bizarre Balloonology-John and Jen Cassidy


Juggling-The Rinney Family
Holiday Hilarity-Steve & Ryan
Ponies-Cassidy Herriott (with the dice throwing assistance of Steve & Ryan)
Bizarre Balloonology-John and Jen Cassidy

We packed props into the car for two gags, but it turned out that Mr. Hall only needed one for this year's show. We wanted to premiere our brand new (never before done) gag, but due to lack of time to practice with Clive Allen, we went with our other act: the shovel gag that we did on KM in 2009.

It turns out we wouldn't have been able to do the new gag anyway. The pony act has a huge ring made out of fences that takes up almost the whole stage from front to back.
Ryan and I just had a small space in which to work in front of the fences; we could barely move, much less do a gag.
Tomorrow we are going to ask if we can go after the pony act when the fences are cleared so we can actually do a decent job.

We paint faces before the show and during Intermission, and with Tatiana joining us, we added the option of full face designs in addition to our regular cheek art.
We cleaned up in the face painting department, especially in the second show when there was a big crowd. The full face designs were a huge hit; Ryan had to help out. I am going to learn to apply them too so I can help keep the line moving.

Our friend, Carol Lang, came to see the second show. She brought crab cakes, a couple of different salads, cookies, Guinness, gifts for Nico, and cards for us.
It was so thoughtful of her to bring us such a nice free roll. She even had plates, cups, a cooler full of ice, and a little oven to heat up the crab cakes!
Ryan's friends, the Gallucci family, were also at the show. Needless to say, we were very busy visiting everyone!

After the shows I was happy to kick back in my hotel room and enjoy a Guinness from Carol.

One day down, 12 more to go!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

374 Miles To Lancaster, PA

Hey everyone,

Sorry that my postings have been slim lately. Ryan and I have been hella busy with preparations for the Bill Hall Christmas Tour as well as the 2012 season of Kelly Miller.

Apparently we did not learn our lesson from the 2010 season, as once again we are going to be in the show many times.
We were happy with our number of appearances from the past season, but the show needs us to cover a couple of transitions next year in addition to performing our production gags.

We had all of our gags planned out, but at the last minute we decided to discard one idea and put in a new (hopefully better) one.
The downside was that we had to make some new, HUGE, props in just a couple of days, but the upside is that we will be the first clowns to perform this gag on a circus.
We are very excited about debuting it on the Bill Hall Christmas Tour first.

Speaking of which....

Right now Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I are on the road to Lancaster, PA, which is the first town of the Christmas Tour. It is our second day of travel; last night we stayed with our friend, Jeff Schott, and his sister, Joan, in Louisville, KY.
Jeff is a great host and stayed up sharing stories with us until the wee hours of the morning, only to wake up bright and early to make us breakfast.
Joan bought Nico a little stuffed snowman that he instantly fell in love with. He carried it around all night and gave it hugs and kisses.

Here is our schedule for the 2011 edition of 'Twas The Show Before Christmas:

Monday, Dec. 5 -- 4 & 7 pm -- Lancaster Mennonite School, 2176

Lincoln Highway East (Rt. 30), Lancaster, PA

Tuesday, Dec. 6 -- 7 pm -- Eagles' Club, 116 N. 8th St., Lebanon, PA

Thursday, Dec. 8 -- 7 pm -- Pottstown Middle School, 600 N. Franklin

St., Pottstown, PA

Friday, Dec. 9 -- 7 pm -- St. Hubert's Catholic High School for

Girls, Cottman (Rt. 73) & Torresdale Avenues, (Northeast) Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, Dec. 10 -- 4 & 7 pm -- McKeesport High School Auditorium,

1960 Eden Park Boulevard, McKeesport, PA

Sunday, Dec. 11 -- 1 pm -- Altoona High School, 1415 6th Avenue,

Altoona, PA

Monday, Dec. 12 -- 7 pm -- Maryland Theatre, 27 S. Potomac St.,

Hagerstown, Maryland (MD)

Tuesday, Dec. 13 -- 7 pm -- Mercyhurst College Mary D'Angelo

Performing Arts Center, 501 E. 38th St., Erie, PA

Wednesday, Dec. 14 -- 4 & 7 pm -- Scottish Rite Consistory

Auditorium, 348 Market Street, Williamsport, PA

Thursday, Dec. 15 -- 5:30 & 8 pm -- Ridley Township Community

Center, 801 Morton Avenue, just north of McDade Boulevard,

Folcroft/Ridley Park, PA

Friday, Dec. 16 -- 5:30 & 8 PM -- Same location as Dec. 15

Saturday, Dec. 17 -- 4 & 7 pm -- Keith Middle School, 225 Hathaway

Boulevard, New Bedford, Massachusetts (MA)

If you are near any of these towns, please come out to see the show and say hello!
Keep checking the blog for updates throughout the tour.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blast From The Past: Walkarounds-2003

My first year on Ringling one of my favorite parts of the show was doing walkarounds.
I joined the second year of the 132nd edition tour, so I was replacing one of the clowns who was leaving.

When I saw the show for the first time, I saw a walkaround that I really wanted to do, but being a lowly First of May, I obviously had no say in the matter. It all came down to which spots were open and what costume I fit into.

I was first chosen to do a Cinderella walkaround where I would play the famed princess who scares off her prospective suitor with a foot WAY too big to fit into the glass slipper.
The walkaround is a classic that I had seen before, so I was excited to be a part of its history.

I was less excited about the costume. Marni Sussman, who previously played the part of the princess, can attest to what a pain in the butt the costume was.
There was a huge hat that made it difficult to get in and out of doorways, there was a hoop skirt that would become twisted after each performance and would require resetting (which was no easy feat), and one more added inconvenience for me: the shoe inside the big foot was about two sizes too small for me.
But, as an eager new clown, I was just happy to be on the Greatest Show on Earth, and I wouldn't have said s**t even if I had a mouth full of it. (To quote my friend, Natalie)

The current Boss Clown, David Solove, put all of us First of Mays into walkarounds the third night we were on the show. He said the best way to learn something was a trial by fire, and those sink or swim situations certainly did put the pressure on you to not screw up.

Everything went fine for the first performance because David was with me the whole time playing the part of the prince; I simply had to do our bit and then follow him to the next spot.
The only difficulty I had was the big princess hat falling in my face the first time I bent over to lift up the skirt of the dress.
That quickly taught me that to be a princess, I would have to learn to bend over in a more ladylike fashion.

The next day I was feeling a lot more comfortable with the role after having a couple of shows under my belt.
As I was getting dressed for the last show of the day, I put on a different pair of bloomers than I had been wearing. I noticed they were a little big on me, but I didn't think anything of it.

David and I went to our first spot on the floor and went into our routine. When I lifted up the dress to expose my big foot, I had a surprise in store for David and the audience: my bloomers had fallen down around my ankles!

This got a huge laugh from the audience, and David yelled (through his laughter), "Pull up your bloomers!"

I forwent any decency and yanked my underwear up in front of the paying customers, and quickly turned tail and ran after David to our next spot.
Unfortunately, the running caused my bloomers to fall again, and our next presentation was the same as the first.

After a couple of attempts to right the wrong, I simply gave up and accepted my new role as the slutty princess.
On the plus side, the walkaround got an exceptional amount of laughs that night!

My favorite two days of doing the Cinderella walkaround came when David Solove was sick with the flu and I filled in for him as the prince.
I enjoyed it because the prince costume was much easier to get in and out of, and I had a kiss blown to me by Marni every time we did the gag (she was a much prettier princess than I ever was).

After going home for the winter break I returned to the show in Sunrise, FL, refreshed and ready to begin my career with the circus.

Some shuffling was done in the walkaround roster due to the inclusion of a new gag from a father and son team from Hungary.
This change effectively took the Cinderella walkaround out of the line up, and I was put into a new gag.

I assumed the role of a woman (again with the drag!) wearing very stylish alligator shoes and an alligator handbag.
While showing off my accesories, the head on my purse would come alive and start threatening me. Struck by comedic inspiration, I would open the gator's mouth and place my head inside.


No sooner would I have tamed the beastly bag than a giant alligator (played by another First of May, Mit Calloway) would come along and scare me off, only to show off his stylish clown skin suitcase and shoes.

After a couple of days of doing the new walkaround, David Kiser, our production manager, told me to do something different with my hair so I wouldn't look so strange.
In fact, the day before my make over, I heard a little kid in the audience yell at me, "Look! It's a boy in a dress!"


and after!

Towards the end of the tour, in Boston, MA, David and Cherie Gregg came to visit us. Dave and Cherie had previously done the alligator clothing walkaround, and with a little prodding and persuasion, we convinced David to don the alligator costume once more and perform the walkaround with me at the evening show.

David did a stellar job in reprising his role; however, the timing of the walkarounds had changed since he had left, and we were WAY ahead of everybody else.
I kept trying to tell him to slow down, but we still found ourselves getting to our spots while another clown was still filling it.

The situation all became worse when we found out that Kenneth Feld was visiting that show. Luckily, he was in the production office during walkarounds, so we were all able to breathe a collective sigh of relief that he had not seen "the alligator walkaround on crack".

Even though Ryan and I performed walkarounds on Kelly Miller in 2010, nothing will compare to the feel of 12 clowns in the spotlight with a live band and an entire arena floor to work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sleepless Night

I woke up at 3 a.m., and I can't get back to sleep. I guess I might as well write a WQ blog update.

On November 5th Hugo held its 3rd Annual Circus Festival, in which artists from the three local circuses (Kelly Miller, Carson and Barnes, and Culpepper Merriweather) joined together to put on three performances for the people of Hugo.

Some of the acts included Karina Perez (Culpepper) on lyra, Alex Acero (Carson) with his comedy trampoline, Julio and Deya Rosales (KM) performing their knife throwing act which will be part of the 2012 production, Natalie Chandler (Culpepper) with her performing dogs, and several other acts such as hula hoops and rola bola.

Ryan and I did a soap gag (where shredded soap is mixed with water using a high powered drill, and then used to simulate different white liquids [paint, pies, glue, milk, etc]) where we were painters on hand to paint the building for the Circus City Museum.
We had a lot of fun making a big mess; less fun was the preparation of whipping up the soap and the clean up afterwards of the ring mat, the props, and ourselves.
BUT, it was only for three shows, and as far as big laughs go, no pain, no gain!

Here are me and Ryan with our 2006 Blue Unit Clown Alley mate, Alex Acero. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of our gag itself.

I have been enjoying having time off in Hugo. I have been watching a crazy amount of DVDs from Netflix, and I have been spending a lot of time at the library.
They have a great circus section, and I have been slowly but surely perusing old issues of White Tops for interesting clown articles and pictures to photocopy.

After a couple of weeks of resting and cleaning/organizing our homes and Ryan's storage unit, we began work on props for next season.
The Winter Quarters crew are in the shops working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but once they are gone, Ryan and I take over and work until late at night.
Our first day of work we went in around 11 a.m., and I finally left around 11 p.m. Ryan stayed for awhile longer because he is a freaking maniac when it comes to creating props!

A couple of days after the Circus Festival, our friend, Jeff Potts, came to visit Hugo for about a week to help us with our prop work.
Jeff helped us build the bee hive for the 201o exterminator gag, and we loved having him visit us in WQ. He was an invaluable help.

We got a lot of foam carving, latexing, painting, and wood work done with him here. We did occasionally take a break from working like dogs; one day I gave Jeff a tour of Hugo, and on November 10th we took time to celebrate Ryan's 27th birthday. I got him this awesome gift:

Soon I will post some pictures of the three of us working in the prop shop. For now here is a teaser photo of the frame work (masterfully welded by Oscar Perez) for one of our new props.
Can you guess what it is?

Well, we are taking Jeff to the airport in about an hour and a half, and it doesn't look like I am getting back to sleep. Whee!
Keep your eyes peeled for another blast from our Ringling past in the next few days. Until then....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blast From The Past: This Story Blows-2006

Hello from Hugo, OK!

I have been thoroughly enjoying our winter break. As soon as the show got back into Winter Quarters, Ryan and I began cleaning out our trailers and organizing Ryan's storage unit.
We are going to have to start charging admission to see it; Ryan has amassed an amazing collection of clown costumes and props, as well as books on comedy.

Speaking of books, I filled up three 30 gallon tubs with books from my trailer. No wonder I was paying so much for gas!
The sad thing is, I still have a big box full under my bed, and I left about a cabinet and a half full with books I intend to read in the coming year.

I plan to keep everyone updated with our misadventures during the winter, but I also plan on sharing some recollections from my time with Ringling.

Here is a little story from my 4th year on the show, 2006: The Circus of (Broken) Dreams tour.

Dean Kelley, Ryan and I had a music gag in Pre Show where they attempted to play "The Tiger Rag" on trumpet while I constantly tried to help on trombone.
My interruptions led to Big Time Comedy!

Or not....Ryan's expression in that picture sums up the gag pretty well.

Anyway, about a month into the tour we were already bored with the gag, so I started doing stupid things at the beginning to keep things interesting.
One of my new bits involved me bowing and hitting my head on the microphone that the sound guys set up in front of our stage.

Well, one night in Birmingham, AL, I was being extra "funny" since there was a cute PR intern watching with a couple of kids from a meet and greet that I had just completed.
I hit the microphone a little too hard with my head butt, and I instantly knew that I had cut myself.

I decided to just keep on with the gag, and hopefully no one would notice anything. When it came time for me to play the trombone, I was blowing into the mouthpiece, and with the pressure from every breath, I could feel the cut on my forehead bubbling blood.

Ryan noticed and stoically commented, "Wow, that's a lot of blood."

I quickly told Dean and Ryan to cover for me and I beat a hasty retreat off the floor.
Backstage Scott Myers, the guitar player for the band (and an excellent photographer), snapped this shot.

Back in the Alley I could not stop the bleeding. I kept trying to apply white make up over the wound, but it would instantly turn red.
Finally I had a stroke.....of genius!
I applied a red make up dot over the wound (which was conveniently in the corner of the white above my eye), and then I added another one in the same area of the other eye.
It was quite an aesthetically pleasing bit of horror!

Once I got back on the Pre Show floor I found as many clowns as possible to show them my clever idea.
Of course, the fact that I got the injury by being an idiot negated any ingenuity on my part!

Needless to say I NEVER head butted the microphone again, and Ryan left just a couple of weeks later, so that put an end to the gag once and for all.

I can't imagine why he left....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thank You!

Hey everyone,

Before you read the final blog entry of the 2011 season that is located below this post, I have a small favor to ask.

As you all know, I did incredibly well at keeping up with the blog this year! I don't think I missed a single day, and if I did take a day off, I believe I gave notice and caught up the next day. Yay me!

But enough back patting. I was wondering if you could all do one teeny, tiny favor for me? Everyone, please post a comment to this entry so I can see exactly how many people read my blog on a daily basis.
You don't have to sign your name, it is fine by me if it is an anonymous comment. You don't even have to write a message; just a letter, number, symbol, anything!
I'm just interested in the number of comments. So I can feel popular....I guess....

It would sure mean a lot to me if you could all do this simple task. Thank you all for following my blog, and thanks to everyone that was able to come out and support the show and me and Ryan with your enthusiasm, kindness, and free roll!

And to everyone I haven't met yet, I hope to see you down the road!


Steve Copeland

Happy Trails

Thursday, October 20: Ardmore, OK-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

I got a wake up call at 8 a.m. from the Gordon family. I met Dave and "Shorty" Gordon, and their son D.R. when I worked on Ringling.

Dave went to Clown College back in 86 and spent 20 years in the circus business, where he married his wife, Shorty, and they had their son my first year on Ringling.

Now they live in Oklahoma City, so they made the drive out to spent the day with the show in Ardmore.

The Gordons brought a huge free roll. Shorty made bread and bagels, as well as three beautiful cakes: a duck cake for me, a tent cake for Mr. North, and a circus lot cake for the show.

Today was chock full of visitors. Dudley, the Kelly Miller lot caretaker, his daughter, Carol, and her husband, Rich, came to visit; Pat and Mike, who spent awhile with us this season, were also in attendance.

Tyson Manning, a photographer who spent some time with us in Oklahoma earlier in the season, showed up in Grove, made the jump with us into Ardmore, and spent time photographing the shows and lot life.

He gave me two big pictures: one of the water gag, and one of me getting pied on my birthday.

Lois Proctor, who works at Mr. North's book store in Ardmore, was also at the lot for the tent raising. She ordered a couple of Dexter books for me, and when I went to pay her for them, she said that they were a birthday gift. Sweet!

I got another great birthday present in the mail today from Becky Raborn. She got me the complete Pink Panther film library on DVD (excluding of course the reprehensible Steve Martin remake. Blarf!).

And to top it all off, Johnny Moss renewed his title as "Coolest Teen Ever" for buying me a new zombie video game.

Hooray for birthday presents!

The saddest thing that happened today was that I received my final paycheck for the season.

When the cookhouse opened for lunch I helped Shorty carry the cakes and bread over for everyone to enjoy. Then I took Ryan, Dave, and D.R. to Mr. North's book store, The Bookseller, where we browsed for awhile.

I dropped Dave off back at the lot, and then Ryan and I ran some errands.

The last two shows were performed under the new tent, which was back from having modifications done.

Our final shows were performed to full houses, which was a great way to end the 2011 season.

During the second finale John Moss made a speech about how the audience had just witnessed the final performance of the wild west edition, and he thanked Joel, Nikki, the Poemas, and Lucky and Vickie, who won't be returning next season.

I never know what to feel at the conclusion of the tour, because it doesn't set in right away that we are finished. I always feel like the next day will bring a new town and more shows.

Well, that concludes the 2011 season of the Kelly Miller Circus!

I guess I should write something deep and profound in summation.



Ah, screw it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

Tuesday, October 18: Grove, OK-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 62

Lot: Sports complex

Ryan and I practiced some music today. We tried a couple of songs on trumpet and trombone, and we also started writing out the notes for a song from the musical, "Sugar", called "Penniless Bums". Coincidentally, that title will describe us pretty well this winter.

The first crowd wasn't very big, but we did good business for the second show, even though it was freezing.

The one good part of the cold weather was that they left the generator on all night.

Wednesday, October 19: Ardmore, OK-Travel Day

Miles: 280

Lot: Corner of Commerce & Veterans

I made good time on the jump today. I only stopped twice for gas, and I was doing a steady 65 mph for the majority of the drive. I made it to Ardmore around 11:30 a.m.

Today was my 28th birthday. Ryan and Tatiana gave me my gift when I got to the lot, and after receiving it I got this great picture of Nico achieving his zen moment.

Later in the day the circus children came around trick or treating. I was waiting for them on the steps of my trailer with all my goody bags full of candy.

As I was handing the children their treats, Ryan called out, "Hey kids, sing 'Happy Birthday' to Steve!"

As they were serenading me, Tatiana removed my glasses. My Spidey Sense started tingling, and I knew what was coming next.

I quickly removed my hat, and as soon as the kids finished their song, Delena nailed me in the face with a pie. Not a shaving cream pie either; a real lemon meringue pie!

Afterwards I told Ryan that it was my first birthday pie since my last year on Ringling in 2007.

The Fuscos had me over to their trailer after I had cleaned up where I was presented a birthday cake addressed to "Princess Steve". Ain't it the truth?!

Tonight Ryan, Casey, Radar, Nikki, and I went to the Gusher Lounge for drinks, dinner, and karaoke. Later in the evening Lucky, Vickie, and the Norths joined our party.

I sang three songs, none of which really fit the theme of the bar (country/western), but no one threw beer bottles or shot at me, so I considered it a success.

Hooray for good birthdays!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Hey everyone,

Since it is a travel day, and in celebration of my birthday, I am taking the day off from blogging.
See you tomorrow!

In the meantime....My friend, Alex Zaprudsky, is an undergraduate researcher at The University of Iowa Department of Communication Studies and is conducting a research study about Circus Fans. The project is still in the process of being approved. Alex will be recruiting participants for his study on my blog, though, so be on the lookout for more detailed information about his study and a link to the survey in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Monday, October 17: Wheaton, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 42

Lot: Gizmo's Event Center

Today's jump was the shortest one we have had in awhile, and the last short drive for the season.

We did good business for both shows; it became very windy during the second performance as a storm started to move in.

Gizmo, a well known local rodeo clown (after which the lot is named), was the guest ringmaster for the second show.

When Ryan found out, he warned John Moss, "Don't get him wet, keep him out of sunlight, and what ever you do, DON'T feed him after midnight!"

And that's all I've got to say about that....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Curse of Carthage

Sunday, October 16: Carthage, MO-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Miles: 67

Lot: Myers Park

On this morning's jump several of us were scared by a man walking on the Interstate.

I was driving along, in my usual stupor, when out of nowhere there was a man walking on the Interstate with his back to traffic. He had his thumb stuck out for a ride, and he was wearing dark clothing.

I came within inches of hitting him since he was walking on the border of my lane and the lane vehicles use to enter the highway.

When I stopped for gas I mentioned the man to Sara, and she said she almost hit him as well. A couple of local ladies also mentioned seeing him.

There was a Wal Mart close to today's lot, so I walked over and did my trick or treat shopping. Even though the kids aren't making their rounds until Wednesday, I wanted to be ready and avoid a scenario like last year.

"The circus kids did their trick or treating this afternoon. I had Sara buy a couple of bags of candy yesterday, but when I saw the mob of children and how much candy they were getting from everyone else, I knew that my one piece of candy a child rationing was not going to cut it.

I ended up hiding in my trailer and then just tossing all the candy on the ground where the kids could fend for themselves.

This did not please the children, so they attempted to flip over my trailer. I hid inside until the bloodthirsty mob had moved on to another trailer.

Ryan got a huge kick out of this spectacle and took to calling me The Grinch Who Stole Halloween."

Back at my trailer I made up gift bags for the kids; now everything is ready for them.

We did decent business for the first show and the second show had an average sized crowd. The audiences were dead.

Let me put it this way: My black duck, Emmie, bit me on the eye today while I was holding him. It was less painful than performing for the people of Carthage.


I actually think there is a curse behind the town's name. The audiences in Carthage, IL were noteworthy in their lack of response, and in the movie "Funny Bones", Oliver Platt says, "I was playing Carthage, Tennessee. Ever play there? They brought back the death penalty for comedians only."

I rest my case!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fab Fawns

Saturday, October 15: El Dorado Springs, MO-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Miles: 79

Lot: between Fugate Motors and Summer Fresh Market

There were a lot of deer on this morning's jump. There was a dead one in the middle of the road, then later on two ran out in front of me.

The most entertaining sighting happened right outside of town. Six deer crossed the road in a perfect line. Four of them stopped in the street, and their spacing and pose was eerily reminiscent of the Beatles' album cover for "Abbey Road".

(Like this, only with the capacity to do much more damage to your vehicle)

It was nice to be by civilization today after playing in the boonies for the past several days. While Ryan and I were at lunch we got a call from Tavana. The sponsor wanted to know if we would appear at the town's chili cook off like we did two years ago.

We tried to beg off, citing the lack of notice and short amount of time they were giving us to be ready. The sponsor was persistent though, and he said he could take us later than he had planned.

Being the fantastic team players that we are, we agreed to do the publicity.

At 12:30 p.m. the sponsor picked us up and took us downtown for the cook off. We mingled with the locals and plugged the circus. Whenever we saw a family we asked if they were going to the show, and we handed out a few free kid's tickets.

Whenever someone would offer me chili, I would say that I couldn't eat it because I was a Level 9 Vegan, meaning that I can't eat anything that casts a shadow.

Aside from a few teenage girls who were "afraid of clowns", the meet and greet went well.

The first show was 3/4 full, and there was a good turnout for the second show, although the ring side seats were mostly empty.

The lot was pretty rough, so it took a lot of work to do the gags.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

10 Mo' To Go

Friday, October 14: Camdenton, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 75

Lot: Amphitheater grounds

When Tatiana made lunch today, she shared some with me. That was the delicious highlight of my day!

Fridman fixed my water pump, but he said that something inside of it is over heating and causing it to turn off.

When I am not using water, he told me to keep the pump turned off. It is a pain of a habit to get into, but once we get back to Hugo and I can easily get to an RV shop, I will buy a new pump,

There were huge rocks in the backdoor. Apparently the ring suffered the same problem, but thankfully a few guys went in and raked the majority of them out.

The first show was full, and the second show was packed. They had to set up the extra bleachers to accommodate everybody; the audiences were great too.

I remarked to John Moss how wonderful it would be if our remaining 10 shows were like that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Optimist Prime

Thursday, October 13: Ashland, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 67

Lot: Optimist complex

Ryan and I drove to Target this morning to pick up a skeleton for one of our new gags. We were directly in between two big towns, each with a Target. Unfortunately we were 20 miles from both of those towns.

It sure would have made things a lot easier if we had played a bigger town today!

Besides going to Target, I was able to pick up duck food and shavings from Orschelin's. At least the 40 mile round trip was a productive one.

Ryan and I got our new clown shoes from Marty Scott in the mail today. There was a mix up with Ryan's order, so if anyone wants to buy these shoes:

send me an e-mail at They are a men's size 9 1/2, and they are brand spanking new.

There was horse crap all over the lot. Everywhere. Nothing welcomes you to a town like horse manure everywhere you step; it really showed how much the town cared about us.

I thought about dumping my donniker right in the middle of the lot to return the feelings.

After showering I turned on my sink so I could shave; no water came out. I tried again, I turned the pump on and off, all to no avail.

I called Fridman so he could check out my pump, but he was busy and said he would have to check it later.

This left me without running water, which put me in a bad mood. Grrrrrr.

We had average sized crowds for both shows. Mrs. North filmed our gags for us in the second performance; it was nice to see the progress we have made since the gags were last filmed in Rhode Island.

I wore my new shows for the shoes tonight. Wait a minute.....

It has been awhile since I have worn heavy duty Scott clown shoes, and they gave me quite a work out!

Fridman got my water pump working between shows, but it didn't last long. He said he wouldn't be able to properly fix it until tomorrow when he could have light to see what he was doing.

No running water for me until tomorrow. D'OH!

Luckily Ryan let me fill up a bucket so I could take my make up off, and John Moss gave me a couple of bottles of drinking water.

As I was standing over the bucket of water taking my make up off, I flashed back to 2009 when we were living in the generator truck and took our make up off via bucket every night.

At least now my indoor plumbing is more advanced than a funnel stuck in a hole in the floor.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Avoid the Noid

Wednesday, October 12: Montgomery City, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 60

Lot: fairgrounds

This morning when I woke up and stumbled out of my trailer, I realized that I was the only one left on the lot!

Apparently everyone moved to solid ground last night in anticipation of a downpour; I didn't get the memo and slept through the whole thing.

It must have rained like crazy during the night, because the ground was absolutely soaked. I was going to be very angry if I got stuck, but luckily I pulled right off the soft, wet grass with no problem.

Once we got to Montgomery City I walked into town to mail a Netflix DVD. The whole downtown was comprised of antique shops.

Ryan, Tatiana, and I checked out one across the street from the lot. I picked up a drinking glass with a Norman Rockwell painting depicted on the side.

It is called "Off Duty Clown", and it depicts a circus clown sitting in a chair, smoking a pipe, and reading the paper; a great find!

Danny came over because Ryan found a treasure chest and powder keg that would be perfect for next year's pirate production.

We did decent business for both shows and the crowds were very responsive.

In the first performance, one of Carolyn's dogs kept running over to Mrs. North and jumping in her lap. Mrs. North spends a lot of time with that dog, and I guess he just wanted to visit with a friend during the show.

Next, at the conclusion of his rope spinning act, Joel ran over and sat in Mrs. North's lap as well.

I really wish I could have seen the whole thing; I bet it was hilarious!

Our friends from the Red Unit Clown Alley, Dustin and Brandon, came to watch the second show along with some of Dustin's family. The Red Show is in St. Louis, so I am glad they were able to come see us.

We visited with them briefly before the performance, and then I ordered pizza from the Domino's right next to the lot so we could eat and visit when we were done with work.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TDS: Torta Delivery Service

Tuesday, October 11: Winfield, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 33

Lot: Sports Field

On the jump this morning I spotted a coffee shop not very far from the lot that I wanted to check out. After getting everything set up, I walked over just to find out that the shop was closed on Tuesdays. BAH!

For the past several days Ryan has been painting a pirate ship prop that Fridman built for Carolyn's next year dog act. He finished it this morning, and it looks fantastic.

We had a decent sized crowd for the first show. I just was not feeling it, and I couldn't get in a groove. Luckily we did good business for the second show and the audience was great!

They really recharged my batteries and helped me give a great performance.

John Moss sent me a text last night telling me that Reyna was making tortas for dinner. I mistook him and thought he meant that she was making them tonight.

I realized my error after the show, but Reyna was nice enough to make a torta just for me, and Johnny even delivered it to my door.

Now that's service!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You're A Phony!

Monday, October 10: Warrenton, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Miles: 70

Lot: Athletic complex

After arriving at the lot, making breakfast, and getting cleaned up, I unhooked my truck to run some errands in town.

I washed about two weeks worth of laundry, went grocery shopping, and got a much needed haircut.

When I got my hair cut, I didn't feel like answering a million questions about working for a circus, so when the lady asked me why I was in town and what I do for a living, I started improvising and making things up.

I think I worked harder making stuff up than I would have answering her circus questions. I also wasn't very good at such spur of the moment fabricating; guess I need to work on my improvisational skills.

When I got back to the lot I discovered that my trailer was without power. I checked my breakers in the trailer, I checked all my plugs, and I checked the breakers in the gypsy box: all to no avail.

Finally I took out my generator and plugged into that until I could find one of the electricians to diagnose my problem.

Our friend, Sean Carlock, came to visit today. Sean was a First of May clown on the Red Unit while I was starting out on the Blue Show.

He brought us some delicious honey crisp apples as free roll, and he treated us to lunch at a Chinese buffet in town.

Both shows were around 3/4 full. Sean watched the first performance and then had a 5 hour drive home ahead of him.

I found Alex, one of the electricians, at the start of the first show, and he diagnosed my power problem. Something was wrong with my plug in the gypsy box, so he plugged me directly into the generator so I could have power.

I was just relieved that the problem was not on my end!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mortal Komquack

Sunday, October 9: Union, MO-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Miles: 76

Lot: Jaycee Fairgrounds

There was a Flying J pretty early in the jump. I stopped to fuel up, dump my tank, and buy oil; I thought that plenty more people would be stopping there too, but I was one of only three vehicles from the show.

While I was fueling up, the pump truck pulled in which let me know that I was at the end of the convoy.

I hurried up and finished so I could get back on the road.

I made good time during the jump and passed a few other show vehicles, so I felt good that I wasn't holding everything up.

The first show today was almost full, and the second show was 3/4 full. Even though there were a few less people, the second audience was much more responsive.

As I was waiting to go on for opening of the second performance, Mariana ran up and told me that my black duck, Emmie, had gotten out of his pen.

I ran over to discover that he had stuck his head into the pen of my white ducks and was engaged in a life or death struggle with my normally docile female duck, Ralph.

They had each other by the throat, so I had to pry them apart, push Ralph away, and then gently extract Emmie's head and neck from the pen.

And now people will know why I have to keep the ducks seperate!

After the shows I joined Radar and his family for dinner. Whenever we go out to eat, we manage to pick restaurants with the worst wait staff.

They all had a good dining experience on Friday night while I was at the Halloween party, so I proposed the hypothosis that I was the bad luck charm.

Tonight's waitress proved without a doubt that I am the weakest link.