Saturday, June 30, 2012

There Can Be Only One

June 29: Attleboro, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 25
Lot: La Salette Shrine grounds

This morning I went to do laundry here:

It was tough to get anything washed with all the lightning and sword fighting going on around me.
I asked the lady why there was a solitary machine for both washing and drying, and she yelled in my face, "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!"
I was dismayed to find I only had cash with me; luckily Sean Connery had change.

I think I'm done beating that dead horse.

After I got back to the lot it started raining heavily for a short while. The cement we were set up on dried quickly once the sun came out.

When I heard we were going to be on Shrine grounds, I assumed it was a Masonic shrine, but it turned out to be an honest to goodness religious shrine.
I walked around the grounds attempting to attain inner peace, and I also watched the ducks preen themselves by the shrine's pond.

It was a hot and humid day, even when the sun went down. Despite that, we had good audiences for the shows.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Back To Work

Thursday, June 28: Berkley, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Today Ryan and I worked on a new song to play in the show. Since we took the cornets out of opening, we're thinking about doing a short musical bit to start off the second half.

Bob Lessard and his friends, Bob and Bill, were at the first show. They made very comfortable chairs for the opening of the show.

The South Shore Circus Band held their annual pre show concert in the tent before the second performance. I totally spaced out about it and missed the whole thing; I was pretty bummed.
Seeing our friend, Rick Cobbin, in the crowd made me feel better. Rick was a Ringling clown back in the 70s, and we always look forward to visiting with him when we get to Massachusetts. 

After the show I went out to eat with Radar and his girlfriend, Elisa. I haven't really seen her since we got into this area, so it was nice to be able to spend a little time with them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Thing About Double Posts Is....

Tuesday, June 26: Mendon, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Ryan's uncle Kevin came by to visit for most of the day. Ryan and Tatiana ordered a pizza for us to chow down on, and we looked over the blueprints that Kevin created for a new prop we are designing. 
Yep, that's right, blueprints! They even have the Steve & Ryan logo in the top corner. We're so professional now! 

There were a handful of people out today for various reasons, but the only one that had a direct effect on us was Sara. Without the cradle act she does with Delena, we really had to hustle to make it to the hillbilly gag on time.

In the first show Ryan and I were performing our new version of opening where we sit in the preferred seating with the audience and are obnoxious to John Moss (just like real life!).
Ryan was standing up, making a lot of noise, and he patted the shoulder of an old man sitting in front of him. The man said, "I'm going to punch you in the nose".
Ryan thought he was kidding, so he kept playing with him, but the old man shot to his feet (well, as quickly as he could), and turned to face Ryan down.
I just sat there with my mouth hanging open, thinking that I was about to witness Geezer Smackdown '12, but everything fizzled out. Not before the flow of the bit was ruined by the awkwardness of the situation though.

Of course I gave Ryan a hard time about the occurrence for the rest of the night, and even John Moss got in on the fun. In the second opening, after Ryan was done being a jerk, John said, off mic, "I'm going to punch you in the nose", which gave us a good laugh.

Ryan's maternal grandparents and his uncle Kevin watched the first show, and Bruce Johnson filmed the second show for a "historical record" that we can purchase copies of in the near future.
The audiences were great, and our gags went as well as they could go, so it was a good night for filming.

Wednesday, June 27: Berkley, MA-Day Off 
Miles: 41
Lot: Hill & Hollow Farm

After making the jump to Berkley, I got myself gussied up and drove to the Middleboro/Lakefield train station. From there it was just an hour's ride to beautiful Boston, MA. I'm SO glad I did things right this time!

I had a great day off downtown. I had delicious German food for lunch at Jacob Wirth's, I found some great books at the Brattle Book Shop, I caught the end of a street performing show by Ryan's Japan co-worker, Lucky Bob, I walked around Chinatown, the North End, and Harvard Square in Cambridge, and then I topped it off with dinner at The Miracle of Science Bar & Grill, which was my hangout from my Ringling days in Boston.

By 5 p.m. I was bushed, so I rushed to catch a train back to Middleboro/Lakefield. I was home reasonably early, and I enjoyed relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Side note: My arrival and departure point in Boston was South Station, which brought up memories of a PR I did there on Ringling in 2005. First of all, several of us from the Alley had our clown shoes shined in the station, and then Gautham Prasad and I attempted to drive a car from South Station back to the arena.
A reporter and photographer from "The Boston Globe" were in the back seat, but they couldn't interfere to help us reach our goal.
I thought it was a fun way to do a story on the circus, and it turned out well. Here is a link to the piece:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Off

Hey everybody, It's another day off, and I'm on my way to Boston (I took a train this time). You know the drill, two posts tomorrow! BYYYYYEEEEE!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Double Post: Part IV

Sunday, June 24: Mine Hill, NJ-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

This morning I walked to a little Italian place for breakfast. My sandwich was ok, but they made an excellent cappuccino for me.

I borrowed John Moss' air compressor so I could make sure my trailer tires were good to go for the upcoming big jump.
I accidentally over inflated one tire by 15 psi because I didn't have my pressure gauge on the tire's nozzle correctly. I'm very lucky that I didn't cause the tire to explode!
John taught me a simple trick to let air out of a tire using a key on the air nozzle. It certainly beat my original plan, which was slicing the tire open with a knife!

Circus fans William Tenity and Don and Barb Kowell all made the drive from New York to catch the first show today.
At the second performance, Guillaume Dufresnoy, Big Apple Circus' artistic director, was in attendance.

As soon as the second show was over, I took great haste in getting my rig travel ready, and then I hit the road.
My plan was to get halfway through the 250 mile drive to Mendon, MA so I wouldn't have such a big trip to make on our day off.

On the way I was able to use a dump station at the CT welcome center. Unfortunately, that was the only trailer friendly feature I found in the whole state.
I got off the Interstate a few times to get fuel, but every exit had tiny gas stations that I couldn't possibly have fit into.
Also, at one exit I had to drive at least 5 miles of dark, winding, back roads until I could find a place to turn around and get back on the highway.

The final straw came when I pulled into a Walmart to spend the night. As I entered the parking lot I saw signs everywhere forbidding overnight parking by trucks or trailers.
Since I was only 56 miles from Mendon, I decided to press on and finish the trip.

Alex was still up waiting to park the elephant truck, so he got me into position around 1 a.m.
I thought about unhooking my truck in the morning, but since the engine was still running, I decided to just get it over with.
In my sleepy state I must not have balanced my trailer jack correctly, because for the third time this season, my trailer toppled off the blocks. Just the thing I didn't need to happen after two shows and a frustrating 250 mile drive.

Luckily the front of the trailer landed on my truck's hitch, and with some help from Ryan I was able to get everything corrected before collapsing into bed.

Monday, June 25: Mendon, MA-Travel Day
Miles: 250
Lot: Gift Barn

It was nice sleeping in this morning, but I was discouraged when I heard it storming outside.
My plan was to go into Boston today, but I was reluctant to spend all day walking around in the rain. Finally I decided that I wasn't going to let a little water ruin a day off in one of my favorite cities.

My initial scheme was to take a train into the city, but the MBTA schedule didn't really work for me. Also, I figured if I drove in I would be at liberty to leave when I was ready.
I made a terrible mistake....

Driving my truck in city traffic is bad enough, but with the added nuisance of the rain I was stressing out.
I had a heck of a time finding parking; garages were out because of the height of my truck, and all the parking lots I found were full.
When I finally stumbled upon one lot with spaces, the attendant wanted to charge me SIXTY DOLLARS to park. It turns out a Sox game was going on tonight, and I was right by Fenway.

After driving around aimlessly for awhile, I finally decided to throw in the towel. I called Ryan and found out that he and his family were going to the Natick Mall, which was about halfway between Boston and Mendon.

Ryan, his dad, and his brother, Pete, took the Fuscos to the gigantic mall and let them shop to their hearts' content.
I was happy to finally get something to eat, and I enjoyed looking through the Newbury Comics and Barnes & Noble.

I was planning to go to dinner with everyone, but I was still full from my late lunch, and I was also worn out.
I headed back to Mendon relatively early in the evening, and I spent the rest of the night relaxing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Travel Day

Hey everyone, We have the day off for travel, so I will resume blogging tomorrow. Ciao!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rest In Peace

Saturday, June 23: Mine Hill, NJ-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 83
Lot: Fireman's Field-Rt. 46

This morning Armando's mother, Lucy Loyal, passed away. Everyone was saddened by the news; Lucy will be greatly missed by the circus community.

Ernest Albrecht, the man behind Spectacle Magazine, came to see the second show. I spoke with him beforehand, but I missed seeing him after the performance.

I had a big evening planned. I drove about five miles away to the town of Rockaway to have dinner, and then I went to a HUGE movie theater to see the film, "Brave".
Even though I was initially turned off by the ticket price ($11.50! And not even for 3D!), I enjoyed the movie and laughed often.

On the way back home I got lost amid the construction and detours; luckily I had my handy dandy Google Maps program to get me where I needed to go.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Circus Afro

Friday, June 22: Weatherly, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 40
Lot: Eurana Park

After getting parked this morning, I walked into town to see the sights; I found a little deli where I had breakfast.

Ryan tipped me off to the whereabouts of a book store right next to the lot. Although their books were unorganized, I found three that piqued my interest, including a first edition of Chaplin's autobiography in great condition.

It was supposed to storm today, but it only sprinkled a bit before the first show. At least it had the predicted effect of bringing down the temperature a few degrees. Today wasn't nearly as hot as the last two days have been.

Ryan and I had fun with our two new numbers in the second show; the fact that the audience was fun helped a lot. The crowds today were the liveliest we've had all week.

There was a kid in the audience at the first performance who was wearing a rainbow afro wig and clown make up. I figured he might be an aspiring clown, so I went out after the show to say hello.

Since he was wearing a rainbow wig, I figured I would greet him with what was certain to elicit a laugh:

The kid and his family looked at me like I was a bug that had crawled out from under a rock. Apparently they haven't watched TV or been to a movie theater in the past few months....I felt like such a jack ass!

Just remember to stay in school kids, or you'll end up like me!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Elmo's World

Thursday, June 21: Schuylkill Haven, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 50
Lot: The Island

This morning Ryan and I had a rehearsal with Marshall, Mike, and John Moss for our new version of opening, and the new ending for our package delivery bit. It was quick and easy; just like me!

John Moore, a freelance writer who found my blog a couple of months ago, caught the rehearsal; afterwards he interviewed me for a piece he is working on. As soon as I get access to it, I'll be sure to share it on here.

About an hour before showtime there was a knock on my door. I opened it and was surprised to see Elmo Gibb.
He brought me a digital copy of a thesis by Phyllis Rogers called "The American Circus Clown", and he brought Ryan a new toy and lots of prop building knowledge. 
Ryan and I had a great time picking his brain for ideas, stories, and general "how to" tips.

It was another hot day, but it didn't seem as bad to me as yesterday. The fact that Elmo was visiting and we were trying out new material helped, I'm sure.

The new opening and package delivery blow off seemed to go well, but of course, they are far from perfect. We will tweak them over the next several days and see what is worth keeping and developing and what needs to be changed. Ah clowning, the never ending process....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Amityville Horror

Wednesday, June 20: Amityville, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 75
Lot: Amity Fire Co. Grounds

This morning's drive was a royal pain. I was most worried about some steep hills at the beginning of the drive, but they weren't too bad. The way the trip seemed to drag on forever and the wacky detours we had to take because of construction are what wore me down.

Pretty soon after I got parked, Ryan and I went to Walmart to get more packing tape for our delivery box, as well as a few other supplies.
When we got back to the lot, Ryan finished wrapping the box in tape, and I gave two new music tracks to Marshall so he could put them in the show computer.

It was HOT today! I heard the temperature got up to 101 degrees, and the heat index was over 100 as well. I tried to make sure that Emmie had as much shade as possible.
I was grateful that Fridman fixed my air conditioning; I would have died without it!

Doing the shows today was as much fun as......something that isn't very much fun. I just felt like I couldn't do anything; the uneven ground and the heat just zapped my energy.
Even the night show didn't bring us any relief. The sun was gone, but the humidity was so thick we could barely breathe.

Needless to say I was happy to be able to shower after work. I had heard rumor of free beer and burgers in the fire station after the shows, but when I walked over I couldn't find an unlocked door or signs of any kind of get together.
It was probably for the best that I went to bed anyway; I wasn't really up for socializing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Hardly Know Her

Tuesday, June 19: Bangor, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 20
Lot: Jacktown Steam Show Grounds

The route slip for this morning's drive warned us about an expensive toll bridge. In reality, it was an inconsistent toll bridge.
There was only one lane we could take, and the booth attendant seemed to just pick random prices for our vehicles.
A sign said that any vehicle over 3 axles would be charged $4 an axle. Yet, when I pulled my 4 axle rig up to the booth, the attendant only asked for $2.
I quickly paid and got out before the man changed his mind. Later on, some folks with the same amount of axles had to pay $16 while others only paid $2. Very strange.

We didn't have arrows for the last leg of the trip; apparently some town official was not too keen on Alex putting them up. Luckily the directions on the route slip were easy enough to follow.

There was a water truck on the lot today, which meant none of our tanks were filled. I was very conscious of my water conservation. I did very well, but by the end of the day my sink was piled with dirty dishes.

I went to a laundromat in town, and when I got back Ryan and I worked on a box that twin photographers, Jason and Justin Senft, brought to us.
One note we got from friends about our package delivery bit was that the box Ryan carries around isn't visual enough. Jason and Justin brought us a huge washing machine box, and we modified it by wrapping it in brown paper, lettering each side "FRAGILE", and then wrapping the entire thing in clear tape.
We weren't able to finish because we ran out of tape, even though Radar brought us more supplies from Walmart.

During the shows tonight I was watching the 1999 TV series, Totally Circus, that aired on the Disney Channel. It follows Circus Smirkus through its summer tour, and it also features Ryan as a first year Smirko.
I remember watching it on TV as a kid; I never guessed that one day I'd be hitting one of the people from the show on a daily basis.

Between numbers I watched pieces of an episode, and then before our gags began Ryan would give me a backstory on certain scenes or tell me more about the different people and situations. It was very interesting.

My friend, Mary Kelly Rayel, and her friend, Christine, came to the second show. After the performance we hung out in my trailer and tossed back a few cold ones. It was a nice visit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Monday, June 18: Oxford, NJ-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 32
Lot: Oxford Textile Field

This morning's drive was fairly hilly; I was surprised to see that kind of terrain in New Jersey. I suppose it is because we are close to Pennsylvania.

I went to the post office today to send money home. The fact that that was the highlight of my day should tell you how exciting the rest of it was!

The audiences tonight were pretty quiet, of course I have a pretty high standard in my mind after the excellent crowds in Carteret.

I had a total brain fart in the second hillbilly gag. We were doing the slap fight and my brain just shut down for a few moments, causing me to miss a bit. Luckily I was able to pick right up from where I left off and the gag went on.
I need to lay off those poppies!

Sorry that today's blog was so lame. Here are some awesome photos of the show taken by Rick Purdue to make up for my boring day:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sweet Gift

Sunday, June 17: Bedminster, NJ-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 32
Lot: River Road Park

I gave Ryan a great gift for Father's Day: a trip to Cold Stone! Ice cream, the gift that keeps

The generator was on and off during the first half of the first show. John Moss brought over his generator so the performance could have music; there were no lights, but at least it was a day time show.
I was just happy the show plugged along; everything was running smoothly again before Intermission.

Ryan and I were both wiped out from the two day stand in Carteret; giving it our all for the shows was difficult.

Doug, a new friend I met Thursday night, came back to visit today. We hung out during the first show, and then he watched the second performance.

After work Doug was nice enough to treat me to sushi for dinner, and then I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few essentials. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nominal Clown

Saturday, June 16: Carteret, NJ-2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.

Even though I got to sleep in a bit this morning, I was still pretty beat from my late bedtime.

My friend Scott O'Donnell, who is currently working with Live Nation, took me to lunch. Before the show Ryan and I got to visit with him for awhile; it was nice to catch up since we hadn't seen him in two years.

Scott and Rob Torres, who was recently on Big Apple and is currently touring internationally, watched the first show. Afterwards they had some invaluable advice and critiques to make our two weakest numbers better.

John Bundy, who performed with us on the Bill Hall Christmas tour, and his wife came to the second show. I wish we could have visited with them more afterwards, but the second show ended four minutes before the third show was supposed to start.
As soon as the tiger arena was up, the first few acts were ready, and the public was seated, the show began.

The audiences were great all day; a third show was definitely necessary. In the last two shows Ryan and I changed up the package delivery bit per some of Scott and Rob's suggestions; the changes seemed to go over well and better grab the audience's attention.

By the time we were done with work, I was wiped out. Between the three shows and all of our friends visiting, it was a jam packed day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Laughter, It Does A Body Good

Friday, June 15: Carteret, NJ-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 60
Lot: football field

Since we jumped to Carteret last night, I got to sleep in this morning. I didn't want to feel like a total sloth though, so I took some time to clean house after I got up.

My friends, Lisa and Cricket, came to have lunch with me. Lisa was a lighting tech on the Blue Show with me for a year, and Cricket and I worked together in Clown Alley for two years.
We went to a restaurant not too far from the lot where I ate a sandwich called the Sexy Walk of Shame. How apropos!

Lisa and Cricket watched the first half of the show, along with Dan, who was also a fellow clown while I was on Ringling.
At Intermission, Dan had to take Lisa and Cricket to the bus station, but he came back to watch the second show.
Also in attendance were Pat Cashin, who is currently working to revive Captain Kangaroo (of which he owns the rights), and his son, Shane. The parents of John Stokvis, one of Ryan's Smirkus clown partners, surprised Ryan by showing up as well.

Our friends saw a great show; the audience was incredible! A particular high point for us was the hillbilly gag; people were losing their minds! What an indescribable feeling....I wish I could bottle it up and keep it for the days when I'm feeling down.

After the shows Ryan and I hung out with Dan and Pat, and we also attended a BBQ that the Fuscos were throwing.
Pat had us laughing our butts off until 2 a.m., when we finally got to bed. I needed to go to bed earlier, especially since a third show was added for Saturday, but I also needed some good laughs.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Full Day

Thursday, June 14: Lakehurst, NJ-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 35
Lot: Lakehurst ball field

On the drive this morning I noticed traffic slowing down ahead of me, and there was a police officer directing cars. He stopped me and approached my passenger side window; the skeleton for our chase, which rides shotgun with me, gave the cop quite a start.
When I rolled down my window, the officer told me that there was an accident ahead with low hanging wires, and I wasn't going to fit under them. I told him where I needed to go, and he gave me a detour route.

I turned around and tried to alert the show folks driving past me that they needed to turn around; I also called Danny so he could let people who were still at the lot know about the change.

I only had to backtrack a short distance, and then I was able to take the detour right to the Garden State Parkway. Unfortunately, our new route took us to a toll booth, something we wouldn't have encountered on our planned drive.
To make matters worse, it was a booth without attendants, and it would only take exact change. I held up traffic for quite a few minutes as I ran into my trailer to get my coin jar so I could fish out $4.30. Of course I had just done laundry a few days ago, so quarters were in short supply. I put together all the nickels and dimes I could find, and Christian, who was behind me, helped me reach my total with some of the change he had.
After those minor hold ups though, the rest of the drive was a piece of cake.

After getting my trailer parked and my duck sanctuary set up, I walked to a New Jersey diner, where I had delicious eggs benedict for breakfast. It made my mouth all yummy.

Former Ringling clown, Brenn Swanson, her son, Enzo, and her father came to the first show. Brenn brought us delicious homemade brownies, and she also gave me a book from a clown festival in China that she organized.
Former Ringling clown and Vidbel ringmaster, Dan McCallum, was also at the first show.
Between shows Ryan and I visited with our friends; it's a lucky thing that I eventually asked Dan for the time, because we were having so much fun talking that we were almost late for the second show!

The audiences tonight were great; I love the energy of the people in this area. Dan watched the second performance, and after it ended Ryan and I went out to visit with him a bit more on the midway.
A local clown named Doug, as well as the sister of one of the Red Unit clowns and the girlfriend of one of the Cole Bros. clowns had also just seen the show, so we had lots of people to visit.

Unfortunately we couldn't talk for too long, because we had to make a night jump to the next town. With commuter traffic, the drive would have been a pain in the neck in the morning.
I'm glad we got the jump out of the way, but I was starting to get drowsy behind the wheel as it got closer to midnight. Luckily everyone made it safely to Carteret.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

West Creek, NJ

Wednesday, June 13: West Creek, NJ-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 55
Lot: Eagleswood fire co. grounds

There wasn't anything to do in town today, so Ryan and I watched a vampire film. Tatiana was also nice enough to make a delicious lunch for us.

It was a dreary day, and during the second show it started misting rain, just enough to be annoying. I was hoping everything would get a chance to dry out; I suppose I should be thankful though, as rainy days have definitely been the exception this year.

We had a great turnout tonight, despite the weather and the fact that two high school graduations were going on in town.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

F & B To DD

Tuesday, June 12: Clayton, NJ-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 23
Lot: High school

When we got to the lot this morning, Armando enlisted me to run a Fly 'n Buy operation at the local Dunkin Donuts. I picked up donuts and coffee for him, his crew, and the Fuscos, and he bought my breakfast as well. It's always a good morning when it starts with a little DD!

Ryan was finally able to fix the slingshot this morning. I just wanted to say thank you to Daniel Burton and Doug Kruest, who both went out of their way to help me find surgical tubing when they read on the blog that I was in need.
It really makes me feel good to know that people are looking out for me.

Today was a rainy day; possibly the rainiest we have had all season. It wasn't a particularly hard downpour; it was just steady, all through the shows. Luckily the ground was solid!

The second audience was great; it is just too bad that I couldn't do a decent job in the surfboard gag to save my life!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My A/C Blows

Monday, June 11: Bridgeton, NJ-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 30
Lot: Dutch Neck Village

Last night I fell asleep texting, so my phone battery died during the night. Luckily I woke up only a few minutes late, and I wasn't the last person to leave the lot.

After getting parked I left the lot in Bridgeton and drove all over town trying to find surgical tubing to fix the Angry Birds slingshot.
I finally found a Lowe's in the next town over that had some, so I made the thirty mile round trip and picked it up.

Back in Bridgeton I stopped to do laundry at a very expensive place; at least the equipment was good.

Finally I swung by the post office to pick up a package that Natalie sent to us from Culpepper Merriweather. The lady working behind the counter looked at me like I had three heads when I tried to explain the principal of general delivery to her, but sure enough, when she actually went back and looked, the package was there.

Natalie sent "Future Clown" shirts to me, Ryan, and Nico, and a "Future Trapeze Artist" shirt to Tatiana. Here are me and Ryan making our shirts look good!


Fridman came by today to take a look at my air conditioning. Sometimes it works fine, and sometimes it feels like it is blowing hot air into my trailer.
Fridman diagnosed my problem quickly; my air filter had deteriorated completely, and there was so much dust in my system that a few more days of that kind of blockage would probably have destroyed my unit.
I seem to always be narrowly avoiding disaster, don't I?

Fridman gave everything a good cleaning, and now my air conditioner works like a charm! Good thing too, as it was another hot day. Luckily the sky clouded over right before the first show, and there was a strong breeze blowing. Unfortunately it was blowing right into the back door!

We had good audiences today, which helped us forget about the slope in the ring that made sure footing a near impossibility.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"The Hills Have Eyes"

Sunday, June 10: Carneys Point, NJ-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 43
Lot: YMCA ball field

Sara and I both left early this morning so we could go to the Flying J on the route. After using the dump station, I continued on my way and saw another Flying J a few miles later.
Then, as we were pulling into town, there were signs for....yet another Flying J!
Sometimes we'll go months without seeing one, and then this morning, within a 30 mile radius, there were three!

It was another hot day; luckily my air conditioning was being cooperative.
In the first Angry Birds gag, the bungee on the slingshot broke during only the second bit. Ryan and I muddled through the gag, but the slingshot is out of commission until we can find some new surgical tubing and perform dissection on the prop. It's going to be a pain in the butt!

Our friend, Chris Shelton, who is a former Ringling clown, came to the second show with his longtime performing partner, John Hadfield, a Clown College grad.
We visited with them after the performance, and then we headed across the street to a pizza/cheesesteak joint for dinner. We stayed after their closing time, sitting on one of the outdoor picnic tables and just sharing stories; it was a good time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jabba De Grace

Saturday, June 9: Havre De Grace, MD-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 65
Lot: Legends of the Fog

There were a ton of people around when we arrived at the lot this morning. A soccer tournament was going on, and traffic was backed up trying to park for the event.

The last two years in Havre De Grace, we have set up right next to Legends of the Fog, a haunted attraction. It looks awesome; I wish we played here closer to Halloween.

Our CFA tent, the John Ringling North II/Steve & Ryan Tent, provided a delicious lunch for the show. They also brought toys for all the kids, and goodie bags for me, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico. Ryan, Nico, and I got black Kangol hats with our names embroidered on them, t-shirts, make up, tasty goodies...all kinds of great free roll!

A little later in the morning, our friend Carol came by with more goodies: crab cakes, beer, cookies, as well as home made chicken and potato salad. I think it's safe to say that we are set!

Dick Flint, a local circus fan/historian, was also visiting today. It was so nice having familiar, friendly faces in the audience. It helped us deal with the heat.
The clowns of the Freestate Clown Alley #30, who are also the members of our tent, were on hand to meet and greet the public again before the shows and during Intermission.

In between performances Ryan and I taught a class for the Alley about Gag Writing. We went over commonly used terminology, types of walkarounds and stop gags, and Ryan gave an overview of his writing process.
I hope the clowns enjoyed the lecture; they always do so much for us, and we really wanted to do something special for them to show our appreciation.

During the second show Ryan and I were walking back to our trailers after a gag, and one of the clowns asked, "Ryan, how old are you?"
Since Ryan can never remember his age, he always asks me how old I am and then subtracts one from my age. He turned and asked, "Steve, how old are you?"
"28," I replied for the umpteenth time this season.
"You're 28!", Ryan exclaimed. "I didn't know you were so old!" (Thanks pal)

For the next few minutes, I watched Ryan take in the life changing revelation that he was 27 years old. It was like watching a mid life crisis occur, only it was funny because it was happening to a clown dressed as a pirate.
All I could do was laugh as Ryan mused to himself, "I really need to re-evaluate my life."
The laughter may have also been a direct result of my loopy-ness from the heat.

After the shows, Danny was going around spreading the word that a baby black bear had been spotted in the area.
Since I had already lost two ducks at the beginning of the year, I decided to put Emmie in the back of my truck early this evening.

Carol took me, Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and Radar out to dinner after the shows. While we were trying to find parking downtown, we lost Dick Flint, who was following us.
We walked around trying to find his car, but since none of us had his number, the search proved fruitless.

The restaurant we had our hearts set on had a wait of an hour and a half, and our second choice had an hour wait time. Finally we found a pub that had seating, and the menu was comparable to the other restaurants.

Dick went all the way back to the lot and found Danny and Tavana. Danny then called me and I told Dick where we were. I ordered food for him, and it arrived just after he did.

We had a good, full day, so I was beat when I finally got into bed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

You Pulled A "Steve-O"!

Friday, June 8: New Freedom, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 47
Lot: Marge Goodfellow Park

I took Ryan to Walmart this afternoon so he could pick up ink to print out our gag writing lecture. While we were there I picked up a few groceries as well.

When we got back to the lot we practiced music a bit. We're learning to play a Hungarian song on trumpet and accordion; we were taught the song when we were on Ringling.

The first show had a fantastic audience. Ryan and I were cracking up in the surfboard gag because even though I play a stick in the mud, strict lifeguard, the crowd took my side.
Ryan and I just imagined everyone in the seats thinking to themselves, "That lifeguard keeps telling that guy, "No surfing', but he won't listen! That surfer should follow the rules!"

....ok, I guess you had to be there.

During the shows Ryan printed out all the pages for the gag writing lecture we are going to give to our CFA tent in Havre De Grace, and he gave them to me to organize.
I went through the whole process of compiling the pages into ten sets, only to realize that I had placed all the pages face down, which put them in the wrong order.
There's nothing like pulling a "Steve-O" and giving yourself more work to do!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Master Ink

Thursday, June 7: New Oxford, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 52
Lot: Irishtown fire co. grounds

We were on a tight lot today; all of us that were parked in the back yard got to be very intimate.
Our advance clowns, Dave and Sherri, tipped me off to a great place to get eggs benedict for breakfast, but unfortunately my truck was blocked in, and I didn't feel like walking the six mile round trip into town.

Luckily, Aaron, who used to work for the show, is now involved with the fire department that sponsored us, and he made sure there was coffee and donuts for everyone when we arrived.

Tonight John Moss gave us a microphone to use in the package delivery bit. It seemed to work out well, and it definitely draws more focus to us and what we're doing. Now if only what we were doing was funny, we'd be set!
I just need to make sure I don't slip up and put my foot in my mouth in my inimitable fashion, i.e. "Get a room!"

Before the show, Carolyn and Lamount told us to go say hello to a gentleman in the seats who was covered with tattoos. When I went out at Intermission to meet him, I found out why.
On his back he had a tattoo of four famous Ringling Bros. clowns: Otto Griebling, Lou Jacobs, "Frosty" Little, and Emmett Kelly.

Al, the owner of the tattoos, is 63 years old. He had never been to a circus before, so he was unaware of the significance of who he had illustrated on his back. He told me that he simply likes clowns.
Almost his entire body is inked, including his face, and he told me that his goal was to be 100% covered by age 65. 
He was very nice, and after the show I took photos with him and his family.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"There Goes Mr. Skin Flint"

Wednesday, June 6: Maugansville, MD-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 71
Lot: Hagerstown Airport

It was a mess trying to get off the Olney lot this morning. Most of us were parked in such a way where several vehicles couldn't leave until one rig got out of the way.

Today in Maugansville we were very close to Hagerstown, MD, which we played on the Bill Hall Christmas tour.
I took advantage of nearby civilization and had breakfast at Panera Bread.

I spent most of the day organizing files and writing; nothing too exciting.

There was a wild and crazy family in the second row at the first performance; I thought the audience would match their enthusiasm, but it was not to be so.
We had a lot of kids laughing at us in the second audience, so that made things better.

Radar and I went to dinner at T.G.I.Friday's, and without even realizing it until too late, I spent $30 on dinner. Yeesh!
I was so angry at myself. If you wonder why, you'll have to understand that Ryan thought this song should have been written about me:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh, Olney

Tuesday, June 5: Olney, MD-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 88
Lot: Hospital grounds

My morning was off to a rough start. When I was unhooking my trailer from my truck, the blocks under my trailer jack toppled over due to the uneven ground. The jack went straight into the soft earth, so there was no way for me to get any blocks underneath it again.
Thankfully Raul and Sara brought over their jacks and helped me get mine out of the ground. From there I was able to get my trailer elevated, and this time I made sure that my blocks were stable.

Olney is usually a two day stand, and the highlight of the tour for me and Ryan, but for some reason, we were only playing it for one day this year. I tried to jam two days worth of activities into one day; I was mostly successful.

Members of the John Ringling North II/Steve & Ryan tent came by this morning with lots of goodies for the show: coffee, juice, cereal, donuts, homemade muffins, etc. It was a delicious bounty!

Ryan and I went to Cheeburger Cheeburger for lunch, where every year we take on the Pounder Challenge. We each attempt to eat a 1 lb. cheeseburger, and for the past three years, we have emerged victorious, having our picture placed on the Wall of Fame (except for the two years that the restaurants' printer was broken, of course).
This year I had a hard time finishing my burger. Ryan polished his off lickety split, but I dawdled over my last few bites. By that point I felt sure that all my hard work was going to come back up, but I forged ahead and got everything down.

I am not faking my misery in this picture. I love how fat and bloated we look; the diet starts tomorrow!

Ryan and I crawled back to the lot and watched "The Three Stooges Story" while we digested. We were in luck since last year it was excruciatingly hot out, and our burgers sat like rocks in our stomachs.
This year it was nice and cool, and we had longer than usual to digest our gluttonous meal.

The Freestate Clown Alley #30 came by to do their usual meet and greet before the shows and during Intermission.

Whenever Ryan and I had a break, which isn't often this year, we went out to visit with them.

Mark Lohr and his family came to the second show. We worked with Mark in China, and he is a lot of fun. He and his family added enthusiasm to an already good audience.

I was sad to see Olney come to an end; being a one day stand it made it seem like "just another day". Hopefully we will go back to two days in the future.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Monday, June 4: Hancock, MD-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 66
Lot: Widmeyer Park

The drive this morning was a royal pain. There were many ups and downs to traverse before we got to Hancock.

As soon as I got my house set up, I sprang into action; I walked to the laundromat nearby to wash clothes.  Even though I just did laundry a couple of days ago, I wanted to take advantage of the convenience. Anyway, I still found plenty of things that needed cleaning.

My truck and trailer were on a heck of a slant today. I couldn't even get one of the doors on the back of my truck to stay open.
I moved the truck to the back door area so it could be on level ground, and so we wouldn't have to haul the heavy hillbilly box such a long way.

Ryan has written some notes about gag writing and types of gags that we are going to present to the members of our CFA tent on Saturday. Today I helped him type his lesson plan out, and I also proofread.

Pat, Thom, and Mike, from the Freestate Clown Alley #30, as well as the John Ringling North II/Steve & Ryan tent, were watching the first show.
At Intermission Ryan and I visited with them, as well as David Orr and members of the Adam Forepaugh/Barry Lubin tent, who provided cake and ice cream to go along with dinner in the cookhouse.

Don Curtis came back today with some shots he took of some of us performers in the back yard last week. Here is my awesome shot:

There were some annoying teenagers playing basketball on a court adjoining the back yard. They were going out of their way to be obnoxious, so of course Ryan and I reveled in mocking them...cause we're so mature ourselves...

Despite that annoyance backstage, the crowds in the tent were great, and had a lot of energy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Comedy Abounds!

Sunday, June 3: Romney, WV-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 39
Lot: School St. ball lot

This morning, as soon as I parked, I walked into town to find coffee. I found a neat little cafe where I got caffeine AND breakfast!
On the way back to the lot I took a different route; I found my way by following the sounds of the tent stakes being pounded.

In the early stages of the tent raising, Armando overheard a very funny exchange between an older woman and her husband.

Woman: "I don't see any elephants."
Man: "Just wait, I'm sure they'll be out soon."
Woman: "Well, they should be out here hammering the stakes and helping out."
Man: "Woman! This isn't God d**n 'Dumbo'!"

That story became a big hit around the lot today. Apparently the woman complained to Sue at the ticket window because she expected the elephants to set up the tent. While wearing hardhats and reading blueprints, I assume.
It takes all kinds...

There was a pool across the street from the lot that was letting circus employees swim for free before the first show.
I should have taken advantage of the offer, but it was a little too cool and windy for my tastes.

We had good audiences today. I love performing for these West Virginia crowds!

Radar, Christian, and I had our first BBQ of the season this evening. We cooked the delicious steak kabobs that Don Curtis brought us earlier in the week.

Afterwards Radar and I walked to get ice cream. On our way back there was a group of teenage girls looking at the elephants.
Their leader called after us as we were heading towards the back yard.

Girl: "Excuse me, where's your veterinarian?"
Me: ".....what?"
Girl: "Where's your veterinarian?"
Me: "........."
Girl: "Or the person in charge of the animals."
Radar: "Why?"
Girl: "I just wanted to see one up close."
Me: "You want to see a veterinarian up close?"
Girl: "No! An elephant!"

I was very proud of that joke. Radar and I explained that the girls could get a fine view of the elephants from the fences set up on the midway, and then we bid the gaggle adieu.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wess Virginney

Saturday, June 2: Petersburg, WV-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 61
Lot: school grounds

Since I got 16 miles of the jump out of the way last night when I drove to Walmart, I got to sleep in this morning: a whopping sixteen whole minutes!

On the route slip there was a warning about a 9% grade on a hill outside of Keyser (the town where I spent the night); all night I was worrying about it, and when I finally tackled the downgrade, it was a piece of cake.
I hate when I get myself all worked up over nothing.

The weather was a lot cooler today, which was nice since we had afternoon shows. Both audiences were good too.

I had a relaxing evening off; it was perfect for watching a movie.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What A Load Of Bull....horn

Friday, June 1: Lonaconing, MD-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 23
Lot: athletic field

There was an early call time even though we had a short jump this morning. I imagine it was because we drove by a very strict weigh station on the way to town.

It was a rainy, overcast day. I stayed indoors, partly because of the weather and partly because there was absolutely nothing to do in Lonaconing.

Valerie, Fridman's wife, came back to the show yesterday. I visited with her briefly while I got into make up.

The first audience just zapped my energy. I tried to get a rise out of them with my new toy, a bullhorn. There was an extra one in the office, so I grabbed it for use in our package delivery bit.
Sadly even my aggravating yelling and blasts from the horn's siren couldn't wake up the crowd.

The second half was cut short because of an incoming storm. It hit during the juggling act, and the heavy rainfall was almost deafening in the tent during our surfing gag.
As if it wasn't hard enough to get something out of the audience, we had to compete with a torrential downpour and thunder for their attention!

On the plus side, the storm passed by quickly and the second crowd showed some signs of life.

Tavo told me earlier in the day that everything was going to move off the lot tonight. I scouted out the area where we were going to be parking, and it looked rather small to me.
I decided to get a head start on the jump to Petersburg since there was a Walmart on the way.

By the time the show ended I had my rig ready to go, and I rushed to get out of make up and costume so I could hit the road.

I arrived at Walmart safely, and then I went inside to do my weekly grocery shopping. Ryan and Tatiana also joined me at the parking/shopping paradise.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Thursday, May 31: Grantsville, MD-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 73
Lot: Town Park

The drive this morning was pretty hellacious. Once we got on the interstate, which was the majority of our trip, we were constantly climbing steep hills. Thank God I have a dependable truck this season.

As soon as I got everything situated at the lot, I walked into town to find trouble. Instead I found breakfast at the Casselman Inn, a hotel/restaurant.

Mike, the drummer, gave me a ride on the back of his moped to a nearby laundromat. It was close enough to the lot that I was able to walk back after my clothes were dry and folded.

Don Curtis came by to visit and take some photos of performers in the back yard. He also brought me some steak kabobs that I can't wait to barbecue this weekend.

The past week has been fairly lame for me, but today was a good day.