Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gotta Roll!

Monday, July 30: Windham, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 20
Lot: KT School Grounds

When I got to the lot in Windham, Tavo and Alex told me that the ground was too soft, so we were all going to wait for further instruction. Everyone was lined up in the parking lot of the school until a decision was made.

The show ended up moving just a couple of blocks away to the lot we played two years ago. It was perfect; I don't know why it was changed in the first place.

There was a laundromat within walking distance, so I went there to keep up with my dirty clothes. Unfortunately, convenience was the only benefit of that establishment. The washers and dryers were crazy expensive!  I suppose when you're the only game in town you can have exorbitant prices...and no folding tables....

Eggroll treated me and Ryan to lunch, which also served as a business meeting. During our two hour discussion, we covered many different points and got some solid advice.
The free food was nice as well.

We had responsive audiences for the shows tonight; it definitely made our job easier. As soon as the second finale was done, Eggroll wasted no time in hitting the road back to Buffalo.
He did a great job filling in, and I know Ryan and I will miss laughing and talking shop with him behind the scenes.

In closing, here's the video interview Lane Talburt made with Radar:

Monday, July 30, 2012

And A One, And A Two....

Sunday, July 29: Aurora, OH-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 20
Lot: City ball fields

It was nice to sleep in this morning since we made the jump to Aurora last night.

Eggroll made us laugh at the beginning of the first show. The guest ringmaster spoke at great length before the opening. When he finished, Eggroll thanked him and added, "Unfortunately, now we don't have time for the show!"

Castro worked on my generator this afternoon; he succeeded in getting it running again. It hasn't worked since April, so essentially I've been carrying around a $650 paper weight.
The main reason I took action was because I am anticipating not having power next Sunday (the majority of us didn't in that town last year).

Today was Mr. North's birthday. In the second show, as a surprise, Eggroll announced the news to the audience and led a sing along of "Happy Birthday". He was accompanied by Marshall on trumpet and Ryan on accordion, with yours truly conducting the whole shebang.

Speaking of Mr. North, here is his interview Lane Talburt filmed back in Dalton, MA:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lifestyles Of The Richfield And Famous

Saturday, July 28: Richfield, OH-2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 32
Lot: behind town hall

I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the rain coming down like there was no tomorrow. It was sort of comforting to hear while I was lying in my warm, comfortable bed. It became less so when the deluge continued as it was time to get up and drive.

I was still half asleep when I left the lot. That semi conscious state of mind, combined with the dark and the rain, aided me in running over a raised median in the middle of the parking lot. I hit it, and my trailer shook violently from side to side; I'm lucky I didn't flip it over.
Needless to say, I woke up mighty fast.

The drive itself was treacherous in the rain. There were plenty of steep hills, some of them with stop lights (in)conveniently placed at the bottom.

When I finally arrived at the lot in Richfield, I went into my house to survey the damage I'd caused. A lot of books had fallen out of the cabinets in my "living room", but the major downer was seeing my refrigerator toppled over onto my dinette.
It was a real bummer of a way to start off my morning.

Besides cleaning up the havoc that my driving created, the only productive thing I accomplished this morning was going to the post office to mail a few things.

Despite my rough start, the three shows today were a breeze.

Here are a couple of funny things that have happened over the past few days:

1- Ryan went into his RV after a gag, and Nico shouted out, "Hi, Ryan!"
    Ryan corrected Nico, "Don't call me Ryan, I'm Papa."
    "Sorry, Ryan", Nico replied.

2- A few days ago, Radar was running the tiger picture concession during Intermission. He asked a
     little boy what his favorite part of the show was. The boy answered, "I liked it when the clowns hit
     each other in the balls!"
     The reviews are in!

There was some kind of event happening on the lot early Sunday morning, so if we stayed overnight, we would have to vacate the premises by 5:30 a.m.
Since it was only 20 miles to the next town, we made the jump after the three shows. I just had to wait for the animal department to move, and then I was on my way to Aurora.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blah! I Vant To Take Your Blood!

Friday, July 27: Chesterland, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 19
Lot: high school grounds

On this morning's jump I looked into my passenger side rear view mirror, only to see that my trailer door was hanging open!
I pulled over as soon as I could and gave the door a good slam to make sure it stayed shut for the rest of the drive.

This morning as I was getting into make up for our PR event, it started to pour down rain. Luckily it had abated by the time I headed to the ticket office for our pick up.
Kinetico, a company that deals with water treatment, sold a lot of tickets for the shows in Chesterland, so as an exchange, Ryan, Delena, and I went to their store in town for a meet and greet event.

Frankly, there wasn't much for us to do during the two hours we were there. Mostly we were keeping the Kinetico employees and ourselves entertained.
Several customers came in, but when I talked to them, none of them had any interest in going to the circus. In fact, most reacted to me like I was offering them a box of anthrax.
The whole time we were there, three kids came in. We interacted with them for a bit, and Delena painted their faces.

There was a bloodmobile at the event, and part of the plan was that I was going to donate blood. It was my understanding that there would be press to cover the transfusion, but that was not so.
After I thought about it, I realized that any press coverage would have been released after we left town anyway.

When I went in to talk with the vampires (I'm not sure of the correct terminology for someone that takes blood, so I'm sticking with that), I realized that I couldn't give blood because I didn't have photo ID with me.
I never take anything with me to PR events; I argued that even with my driver's license, I would look completely different. Still, it was a no go. Frankly I was a little relieved; I wasn't looking forward to doing two shows in the heat after losing a pint of blood.

It's probably for the best that I didn't give blood anyway. One of the vampires on hand was so "afraid of clowns" that we had to leave the building so she could come in and go to the bathroom.
Delena said the grown woman was in tears when she came in to use the facilities.

Ryan and I were shocked at the ridiculousness of the situation; for the rest of the event, we made jokes about the lady to just about anyone that would listen.

The tent was set up on cement today. The acoustics for the tiger cage take down were horrible. Between the clanging of metal, and my voice bouncing all over the place, the audience must have felt like they were listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. (Something my voice is often likened to)

It rained again between shows. Ryan and I were very careful during our gags whenever we had to run on the ring mat. Cement, water, our shoes, and the ring mat are a deadly combination!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gas Attack!

Thursday, July 26: Middlefield, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Today I watched "The Artist", which is a fantastic film. If you haven't seen it yet, please do yourself a favor and check it out.

There's a magic shop in town that Ryan and I visit every year. The owner is a magician, and his wife is a clown; they are preparing to open a third store pretty soon.

It was a humid day; storms were predicted to occur on and off all evening. Right before the second show started, the heavens opened up and the downpour began. The rain continued until after the tiger act; after that the sky cleared up, unfortunately the humidity did not.

Once again we got nice laughs in the second show. Middlefield is the one Amish town every year where the audiences aren't afraid to react.

Radar, Lindsay, and I went out for a market run after the shows. When we came back, our way onto the lot was blocked by police and fire vehicles with their lights flashing.
One of the firemen informed us that there was a gas leak, and he instructed us to park far away and then walk the long way around back to our houses.

Apparently what happened was a stake near the cookhouse was driven into a gas line. The fact that I am writing this blog should let you know that the situation ended well, and we did not all perish in a giant fiery ball of doom.

When I made it over to my trailer, I discovered that basically everyone had moved off the lot to the parking lot of the middle school.
Luckily the ground wasn't bad at all, and I was able to relocate with everyone else.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stuck In The Middlefield With You

Wednesday, July 25: Middlefield, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 36
Lot: Cardinal middle school grounds

This afternoon Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I went to lunch at Mary Yoder's, the Amish restaurant in town. I think my favorite part of the meal was the fresh bread we received after ordering; with a little Amish peanut butter or apple butter, it was delish!

Since Middlefield is a two day stand, some of us decided to have a cookout after work. I stopped by the CVS in town to pick up some supplies as my contribution to the get together.

Lane Talburt's video of Becky, who does the single trapeze act in our show, came out today, and it is great, just like all of Lane's work:

Rich Deptula, whose wife is the treasurer of the Circus Fans of America, was here today to visit and see the two shows. I made sure to send my dues home with him. I don't want to miss an issue of "White Tops"!
I asked if I could get a discount for having a CFA tent named after me, but he rejected that idea.

We got good laughs in the second show. The audiences in Middlefield are predominately Amish, and they have always loved our slapstick humor.

Brian, the freelance photographer who has been traveling with us, took pictures of me removing my make up after the shows. Since I wasn't going to let him take photos of me in the shower (I'm just thinking of the poor people that would be looking at those shots), I went "old school" and took my make up off the same way I did every night in 2009, with a bucket of water.

We had a great BBQ tonight. A small group of us cooked out and ate like kings! Fridman and Valerie even provided us with supplies to make s'mores. Delicious!
It was a great night, and the funny stories were coming fast and furious. We should definitely BBQ more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Soapy Papoose

First off, I'm sorry about yesterday's blog. I'm not sure why it was laid out the way it was, but I corrected the problem.
The entry isn't any funnier, or more entertaining though. There's nothing I could do about that....

Tuesday, July 24: Willowick, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 80
Lot: Dudley Park

I've got nothing to write about today! We did two shows, the audiences were good....nothing exciting or out of the ordinary happened though!

Luckily I have a story to tell:

Back in December of 2005, we were in rehearsals for the 136th Edition of Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey; this edition was titled "The Circus of Dreams".

We clowns had two big production gags, both of which were basically handed to us by the production staff. There were some moments where we were able to stick in some funny bits and clowning, but on the whole, the gags were both pretty lame.

The most ambitious gag was set in a 50's diner and had three parts: a section with an elephant, the "world's largest food fight", and a pie fight.

GET IT!??!

So anyway, that's what we were working with. You may remember, the 136th Edition is where the rings were tossed out, and a giant video screen was utilized.
All the transitions between acts were videos that appeared on the screen and furthered the storyline.

The director, Shanda, and the show's writer, Bradley, wanted a video to play post Diner Gag where the elephants spray us clowns with water from their trunks to wash all the food and pie off of us.

So one morning, the whole Clown Alley headed over to a barn located on the Florida State Fairgrounds to film this piece.
Scott O'Donnell, Dan Berkley, Dean Kelley, Jesse Highley, Ryan, and myself were in full make up and wardrobe from the gag. The other clowns were on hand whipping up soap (all the pies and slop were made from shaving soap that is shredded up and mixed together with water using a high speed drill), and covering us from head to toe with the suds.

Footage of the elephants spraying water was filmed separately from our segment. Well, you may ask, what was used as a water source to clean us off?
A high powered fire hose, of course!

Ever been sprayed with a fire hose before?

....not too far from the truth.

So there the six of us were, all lined up and dripping with soap. The firemen on hand sprayed Dan Berkley first. There was a little burst of water, and that shot was filmed a couple of times.
Then the director, Shanda, said, "Can we get more power from the hose?"
Oh boy....

The next lucky clown to be sprayed was Jesse Highley, a whiteface clown. "Action!" was called, and a blast from the hose took off half of Jesse's make up in an instant.
You can see it in the video below, because that is the shot that was ultimately used. Jesse's reaction and Dean's disbelief are both real.

On and on the video shoot went. After a few takes of being sprayed in the face with powerful blasts of water, none of us had any make up on.
Before each take the other clowns would have to cover our faces with soap so you couldn't tell.

Now at this point I should mention that even though Florida is a great place to be in the winter, it was a chilly 50 degrees that morning, and standing around in a big, empty barn being covered with soap and then sprayed repeatedly with cold water does not make for a fun time.
Yes, that's right, cold water.
Finally, towards the end of the shoot, the firemen figured out how to get hot water to come out of the hose.

The one memory that sticks with me came right after a shot where Dean Kelley is being sprayed (with hot water by this point) while he swims on the floor.
When Shanda yelled, "Cut!", Dean just laid there, face down, like a corpse, while steam rose off of him.

I believe a few of us got sick after that whole experience (I know I did), and I had a hellacious rash on my neck on account of the soap; it didn't go away for at least two weeks!
But in the end, the video segment was way funnier than the gag, and we all had a good laugh when we got to see the finished product for the first time.

Did I mention there are also talking elephants in the video?

Yes We Canfield

Monday, July 23: Canfield, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 25
Lot: Fairgrounds

This morning I got my weekly errands done: laundry and groceries. When I got back to the lot, the tent was set up, so I went to do a sound check on my microphone.
For some reason, I couldn't pick up a signal in the tent, and every other word I spoke into the mic would go missing, or worse, there would be terrible popping and feedback from the speakers.

There was a similar problem yesterday, but I was able to use the microphone only the beginning and end of the package delivery bit to avoid too much of a problem. Today I just had to go without it.

Brian, a freelance photographer, is going to be with us for the next several days. He took pictures of me getting into make up, and then he was taking show and backstage shots all evening.

Since I didn't have the microphone tonight, Eggroll had a good idea for the second package delivery bit. Instead of the premise being us looking for the ringmaster, Eggroll handed off his microphone to me while he "went to get money for his package". 
I then had the microphone to help keep people's attention, and the whole object of the bit became getting the box into the ring.
I preferred the new way of doing it; I believe we'll keep it that way.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dork Knight

Sunday, July 22: Warren, OH-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 30
Lot: High school grounds

We were actually playing a few miles outside of Warren today, but we were still close to civilization. I was able to hit all my favorite spots, which made me a happy camper.

In between shows Eggroll had a nice talk with me and Ryan; a plethora of good advice was given, retained, and appreciated.

At dinner tonight, I overheard a couple in their 20s talking about our show. They were talking about how much fun they had, and also how funny they thought the clowns were.
I was so happy to hear that unsolicited praise, especially from that age demographic.
The couple did get a little nervous though when I scooted my chair closer to their table to hear everything they had to say....

Radar, Lindsay, and I went to see "The Dark Knight Rises" after dinner. I enjoyed it, but it did seem very long. I think the fact that I was tired contributed to that feeling.
If you get a chance to go though, check it out. It's an entertaining film, especially if you're a Batman fan.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Look (AND THINK) Before You Leap

Saturday, July 21: Rock Creek, OH-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 65
Lot: VFW grounds

The Moss family left last night to drive to Knoxville for John's mother's funeral. While they are gone, John Kennedy Kane, better known as "Eggroll", is filling in as ringmaster.

While Marshall and Mike were setting up the band area, I did a sound check with the microphone I use for the package delivery bit. I will be taking over that responsibility until John Moss gets back.

While I was in the tent, Eggroll and I went over the new opening with the band. One of the first things Eggroll said when he saw me a few days ago was, "I hate the opening."
After sharing his thoughts about it, Ryan and I agreed (we weren't exactly married to what we were doing anyway), and the three of us came up with a nice, simple opening.

The generator would just not stay on today. It died five times, three of them during the show. Despite that hurdle, Eggroll did a great job as ringmaster. Of course, he's an old pro at it.

During the second show's package delivery bit, I was in the preferred seating section with an impassable row of people in front of me.
I stepped on the armrest of one of the chairs, and put my other foot on the top of the bally cloth that separates the seats from the ring.
As I was balanced in that precarious position, I weighed my options. I knew I couldn't put all my weight on the bally cloth, because it would topple over.
I decided that the best course of action would be to push off of the arm rest with my right foot so I could jump over the bally cloth and into the ring.

I put all my weight down on the arm rest, and just as I jumped, it broke under my foot. I jumped forward a bit and came down right on top of the bally cloth.
The good news is that I didn't land on anyone sitting right behind me. It was also the biggest laugh we got in the entire show (Eggroll told me to keep it in).

Despite that, I felt like such a jack ass. Whenever I had a moment in the rest of the show, I would pantomime my apologies to the people that I tried to use as a spring board. They cracked up every time.

Radar's sister, Lindsay, is visiting on the show for about a week, and she just arrived today. After the shows we went out to eat a few towns over.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Friday, July 20: Sebring, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 65
Lot: Southside Park

The cold that has been wearing me down for the past couple of days finally hit me hard this morning.
I laid down to rest, but when I woke up, I felt even worse.
After taking some more meds and eating something, I felt much better.

This afternoon Ryan and I began preliminary talks with Mr. North about next year. We did very little business talk; the majority of the time we were just joking around about this, that, and the other.

Sebring is the hometown of Danny Brown, our fleet supervisor. Before the first show a presentation was made to him from a lady that has known him since he was a child.

The audiences tonight were great. I think they were the liveliest crowds we have had in awhile. It was definitely needed; they helped me and Ryan recharge our batteries a bit.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beelzebub & Cash

Thursday, July 19: Mercer, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 78
Lot: fairgrounds

The first part of our jump this morning was a pain in the neck. There were a lot of steep hills, one of which caught me by surprise. I didn't have time to shift into low gear, and I went flying down it. There were curves too, which added to the "fun". Thank the Lord I didn't have anyone in front of me.
The whole experience certainly woke me up and made me pay closer attention.

This morning after making breakfast, I felt like going into town; I simply wanted to get away from my trailer for awhile.
Unfortunately, my truck was blocked in and I couldn't drive anywhere. Even though it was a few miles to town, I decided to walk there, just to stick it to "the man"! I sure showed "them!" (Unfortunately there wasn't much to see in town, but at least I got some exercise.)

Over the past few days, I have been dreading doing the new act. I just wasn't happy with it, and we weren't getting the reactions we were hoping for.
Today Ryan and I implemented a new number to open the second half of the show; we simply went out and played a song on our cornets.
It's a fun, jazzy number, and you know what? The people liked it. Score one for us!

Lane Talburt finished editing the interview he filmed of us last weekend in Dalton. I think he did a fantastic job, especially considering the crap we gave him to work with.

Now you see why I write the blog :o)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oil's Well That Ends Well

Wednesday, July 18: Corry, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 22
Lot: Middle/High school grounds

On my walk into town this morning, I snagged a couple of new posters with me and Ryan on them. We just started spotting them once we got into PA: there's a tiger poster, an elephant poster, a poster of us, and a poster with several different shots from the show.

I was overjoyed to discover that my A/C was working again today. It was my connection to the gypsy box yesterday that was the problem, and not my breaker box, thank goodness.

I went to the laundromat in town, and then when I got back to the lot, Radar helped me unload the props.
Ryan and Tatiana had to drive to Buffalo, NY last night after the shows for green card "bidness" (I still contend that is the proper terminology). 
Everything went well, and they were in Corry with plenty of time to spare before the first performance.

Eggroll came back to visit/take ring mastering notes again, and he also gave us some good outside eye criticism we plan on using to make our weaker numbers better. 
Speaking of weak, for some reason, the lights in the tent were going on and off during our two main gags. Classy...

The new programs came in today, and they are beautiful. Be sure to pick up a copy when you come to visit the show!

After the second finale, I was taking my agent suit off when I received a phone call from Ryan, "Come over quick. You need to see what Nico is doing."

Nico got into the cooking oil, and gave himself a bath. He was one shiny baby!

Ryan and I joked that since in the past I have used pizza to take my make up off, the next logical step would be to use a baby.
It's totally natural...it's....baby oil!

Wocka wocka!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Taking Care Of Business

Tuesday, July 17: Youngsville, PA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

This morning Ryan and I made the pilgrimage to Warren, PA to visit the friendly, neighborhood Walmart.
The main purpose of our trip was to pick up the Three Stooges movie on DVD, but I also needed to restock my fridge, since I lost some food from being without power for so long yesterday.

When I got back to the lot, I found my breaker had once again popped, which left me without power almost the whole time I was gone.
I unplugged all unnecessary electronics and turned my A/C to low, but still, within a few minutes, my breaker had popped again.

This time, I couldn't get anything to turn back on. I checked all my plugs, flipped the breaker in the gypsy box, flipped my breaker again, rechecked all the plugs, etc.
Finally, after everything had a chance to cool down, I was able to get my power back on. I decided to forfeit the luxury of A/C to preserve the fridge full of food that I had just purchased.
I'd be damned if I was going to spend another penny on account of the long jump yesterday.

I was worried that my breaker was faulty, but I suspected the main culprit was the larry extra cable the electricians used so my plug could reach the gypsy box.

I was pretty miserable for the two shows without having a cool place to relax between numbers. The second show was worse than the first; even though the sun had gone down, the heat remained in my trailer, and I could barely breathe, even with all the windows open.
I spent as much time as possible outside, where it was infinitely cooler; plus there was a breeze.

We were next door to an assisted living facility, so the preferred seating section was filled with the elderly at both performances.
I usually do a bit in the skeleton chase where I "come close" to hitting someone in the front row with a shovel. I decided to go easy on that bit today to avoid any patron heart failure.

Our friend, Eggroll, came to visit today. He was watching the show to take notes, because he is going to be our ringmaster for nine days while John Moss goes home for his mother's funeral.

Nico was watching the Three Stooges movie in the evening when Tatiana told him that it was time for his bath.
"No", Nico said, then pointed at the screen and added, "Clowns."
Smart kid!

Ryan and Tatiana had to head to Buffalo after the shows. In the morning they have an appointment in town for green card "bidness" (I believe that's the proper term).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'll Give You Something To Hopkinton Crier About

Sunday, July 15: Dalton, MA-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

I felt so refreshed this morning after getting a good night's sleep. With my renewed energy, I was ready to face the day and make it better than yesterday.

I started my morning off right by having a delicious breakfast and a cup of coffee, and then I went to Barnes & Noble to use a couple of gift cards that had been burning a hole in my pocket.
I picked up a brand new Stephen King novel that is part of the Dark Towers series (my favorite of his books), as well as the newest Dexter novel.

I didn't have too much downtime during the shows today. I was running around making sure my rig was ready for the big jump we have tomorrow.

I borrowed John Moss' air compressor to fill up my trailer tires. While I was attending to one wheel, I noticed that the cap on the bearing was coming off.
I tracked down Castro and asked him to take a look at it; luckily it was a quick fix.

Bruce Johnson was around today with the finished DVDs of our show. Ryan and I watched our acts between performances to take note of how we could suck less.

After work Radar and I went out with Elisa and her friend, Tom. After dinner Elisa headed back home; she is planning to visit again when we get to Kelley's Island, OH.

Monday, July 16: Youngsville, PA-Travel Day
Miles: 445
Lot: Rouse Estate

I got up at 5 a.m. (thirty minutes before the call time) to get a head start on our big jump.

The miles just flew by until the last 100 or so. After that point we got off the NY Thruway and hit all the back roads.
By the time I got to Youngsville (around 3 p.m.), I was pretty frazzled. I had paid around $300 for fuel and tolls, and my left arm and leg got sun burn from having my window down (I tried to save on gas by running the A/C as little as possible).

I was happy to finally have power around 5 p.m. Ryan and I took off to Warren, the next town over, to see the movie, "Ted". It wasn't great, but it made us laugh occasionally.

When I got back to the lot, I discovered that my trailer's breaker had popped, so most of the time I was gone, my power had been off.
I ended up having to throw some food away; I was not a happy camper.

In closing, here's an article that Ryan's hometown paper ran on him:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Travel Day

Today was a travel day, so check back tomorrow for two blog posts.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Ya Had A Bad Day..."

Saturday, July 14: Dalton, MA-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 74
Lot: American Legion field

Our sponsors, The Lion's Club, had donuts and coffee set up for the circus this morning. It was a very welcoming gesture; I look forward to it every year.

I was wiped out from my long day yesterday, so after saying hello over at the Lion's Club table, I got into bed and crashed.
Unfortunately my nap didn't make me feel much better. I still felt worn out afterwards, and I had a killer headache for most of the day.

I missed out on the lunch that the Wayne McCary CFA tent held for the show, but John Moss texted to tip me off on some cool circus stuff for sale.
I picked up a Bobby Kaye puzzle, a Jim Vogelgesang deck of playing cards, a Clown College license plate, and one of the Clown College paint splatter jumpsuit replicas.

The heat totally fried me today. With that on top of my preexisting weariness and headache, I just did not do a good job in the shows.
I was ashamed of my work in the ring; for the life of me, I just could not find any energy. I hate when I have days like that.

To top it all off, Ryan and I gave an interview to Lane Talburt between shows that was bar none, hands down the WORST interview we have ever given.
My brain was not working and I could not give a direct, articulate answer. I babbled on, going in verbal circles like a maroon. Between that and Ryan's "interesting" choice of answers, Lane is going to have a heck of a time cobbling together a coherent piece. I'm sorry Lane.

The circus fans were having a BBQ during the second show, so I went over to chat with them when I had a break. That visit gave me my second wind, and my work in the second half of the last show wasn't so deplorable.

While washing my make up off, I was relieved to know that tomorrow is another chance to do better.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nyuk Cut

Friday, July 13: Three Rivers/Palmer, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 71
Lot: Laviolette Field

I have been in need of a haircut for awhile now, and luckily there was a barber shop across the street from the lot.
While I was waiting, I noticed a definite Three Stooges theme in the decor. The owner of the shop is a huge fan, and he even had a little Stooge "shrine" set up with different memorabilia.

Thank goodness he didn't give me a "Larry" cut!

It was a hot and humid day. After the shows I thought about changing my job title to "Professional Sweater".

I thought up a new bit for the new gag, so I tried it out in the shows tonight. It went very well.

Nicole Portwood, a former Ringling clown, came to see the evening show with her son and daughter. She was thoughtful enough to bring us fresh baked cookies.
Our friends, David and Cherie Gregg, the Ringling Gold Unit advance clowns, were also at the second performance.

While we were visiting with everyone during Intermission, a couple in the audience recognized Dave and Cherie from this season's "Amazing Race" and wanted a picture with them.

I had a great time visiting with my friends after the shows, but I stayed up way too late. I was worn out from my 19 hour day by the time I crawled into bed.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Spiny Norman

Thursday, July 12: Townsend, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 38
Lot: Middle School

This morning Ryan burned a CD with play off music for our new act. I gave it to Marshall so he could load it into the show's computer; I think the music will give the act a nice punch at the end.

In between shows I took Emmie out of his pen and went walking with him. He practically picked up a trick right away; with every step I took, he wove back and forth between my legs. And here I thought I didn't have animal training ability in me!
My favorite thing to do was to run so he would have to catch up with me. He has been eating well, so watching him waddle with his little belly was hilarious!
I suppose both of us need to do more in between show running...

Earlier this evening, Tavana told me that someone had spotted a porcupine around the lot. Towards the end of the last show, when I was putting Emmie away for the night, I spotted the spiny little fellow heading for the trailers.
Radar, Christian, and I followed him around for awhile until he headed back into the woods. He was so cute...and potentially painful.

I was feeling pretty rough after the second show. There was a little girl in the front row that cried loudly and continuously every single time Ryan and I were in the ring. I wish the parents had moved back a bit after the first couple of times. It definitely didn't make me feel very good about myself....

After my post work shower, I checked my phone and saw that Rocco Paris, who is a very funny clown, had forwarded me a letter that his son, Alex, had written to me and Ryan.
He talked about how we were his favorite clowns, and that he watches us every day on Youtube.
That letter really picked up my spirits; thank you Alex.

That's why we do what we do!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mmmm. Coconut Cream!

Wednesday, July 11: N. Andover, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

This morning I took Alex, one of the mechanics, to Home Depot with me. I needed filters for my air conditioning, and Alex needed various supplies. He also ran to the shoe store while I shopped for groceries.

When I got back to the lot, I cleaned up and drove to the church down the street. Father Jerry Hogan, who is a circus priest, currently lives in Sarasota, but he came back to his old parish in town for the baptism of John and Reyna Moss' beautiful baby girl, Kimberly.
You can see photos of the baptism on Valerie's blog:

Afterwards there was a lunch for everyone that went to the service. The food was delicious, and it was nice to catch up a bit with Father Jerry.

In lieu of writing about the shows, since nothing out of the ordinary happened, let me tell a little tale about a four year old boy living in Walterboro, SC.

When Ringling Bros. Clown College celebrated its 20th Anniversary, there was an hour long CBS TV special hosted by Dick Van Dyke to commemorate the occasion.

I am led to believe that I already had an interest in clowns by that point, but I'm not sure why, or how fervent my enthusiasm was.

Anyway, my Nana taped the television special for me, and I'll never forget watching this opening sequence for the first time:

I was spellbound. I knew that when I grew up, I was going to go to Clown College and be a Ringling Bros. clown.

Well, Clown College closed when I was in middle school, but I was still able to achieve my (nearly) lifelong dream.

Whenever I'm feeling down, I pop in my copy of the Clown College 20th Anniversary special, and it reminds me why I do what I do.

And you can also see where I got my taste in clown gags....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hello Nurse!

Tuesday, July 10: N. Andover, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 87
Lot: Middle School

It was nice to go into the ring today and not have a fence between us and the audience. Now that we are out of New Hampshire, we don't have to deal with that stupid rule anymore.

Rob Balchunas, aka Rob the Balloon Guy, came to see the first show. He brought some "Naughty Nurse" beer as a free roll. I would have been happy with an actual naughty nurse, but beggars can't be choosers!

In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, John Tremblay has been around a few times taking photographs in the back door and in the ring. Tonight he had proof sheets for us to look over in case we wanted to purchase any of the shots. I ended up buying two: one action shot from the surfing gag, and a great backstage photo.
I will share them on here when I get my digital copies.

Ryan and I spent the afternoon practicing some new moves for our new act. It went really well in the second show. The less said about how it went in the first performance, the better!

In conclusion, here's a review of the 2012 Kelly Miller Circus from the online version of "Spectacle Magazine":

Good Ideas Need Better Execution at Kelly Miller

To anyone who has been watching the evolution of the Kelly Miller Circus since it was bought by John Ringling North II it must be obvious that the new owner’s ambitions were to make it into something more than your average mud show.  There is the matter of a certain name and reputation to uphold, after all.  North certainly takes full advantage of his family connection in his advertising and at the ticket wagon.
To enhance the artistic expression, a few years ago he began incorporating a theme into a portion of the show and each of the several acts that appeared in that segment helped to support and carry the theme along in an amusing and satisfying manner.  This year’s theme is pirates, cleverly billed as “The Pirates of the Kellybean.”  Several acts are programmed into this section of the performance: a rola-bola performed by Fridman Torales; a very brief and lame excuse for something that is meant to pass as a knife throwing act;  an even faster run-around (if you blink you’ll miss it)  by clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs in the best costumes of the group, save for one worn by Carolyn Rice in her presentation of  a comedy canine review “The Puppies of Penzance;” and finally an aerial ballet with four girls working on webs.
What is missing almost entirely from all this is any sense of the kind of swashbuckling antics we normally associate with pirates, especially after seeing Johnny Depp in the film The Pirates of the Carribean, which is, of course, the inspiration for this theme.  A young mermaid and an even younger bird of paradise  lounge about to little or no effect.  There is some half hearted sword play, and, of course, the music from the film’s sound track.
The sad part of all this is that apparently the show’s resources, be it financial or simply talent, have not kept up with the creator’s ambitions.  Most of the time the segment looks merely silly or worse, amateurish.  Whatever the reason, the acts and talent needed to make this work are not there.   So instead of establishing a context for a series of major acts the theme looks as if it has been thrown together, which is too bad because it is obvious the show is trying to establish some artistic creds.
But that is not to say the show is altogether without charm.  Ryan Holder, who presents the five tiger cage act  looks to be about fourteen years old, so that the effect of his presentation is that of a backyard circus, where the trained cats just happen to be full grown tigers. It is all quite charming and takes the edge off any possible complaints about  animal abuse.
The aforementioned rola-bola act is quite good despite its surroundings.  It is really one of the strongest skill acts in the show which otherwise is lacking a really socko act like the departed Poemas.
Clowns Copeland and Combs are pretty much into slapstick this year, which gets to seem rather repetitious, but thankfully, the blowoffs of their major gags produce major laughs.  In all respects, whatever antics they are up to,  these two clowns always come across as fully professional in every way.  Combs builds all their props and costumes, with careful attention to detail and design.  So their costumes are quite a bit more elaborate than those of most of the other people in this pirate themed section.
The  juggling of Raul Olivares gets better and more impressive every year, and, of course, his little lion remains another of the show’s charmers.
The aerial work I found somewhat less than exciting, while Armando Loyal’s presentation of the show’s three elephant is fast paced and impressive, as the bulls go through their moves with ease and seemingly without need of a human cue.
Mike Rice whose camels and zebra have more stage presence than he does, provides another note of variety, as do  the two women who wiggle behind them.
The Fusco Gauchos who close the show produce a lot of sound but not much fury and make for a rather tame conclusion.
John Ringling North II needs to decide whether he wants to produce a  show that is a family affair or if he wants to reach out and bring in new talent that can produce the fully realized artistic expression he once seemed to have in mind.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bristol Packin' Mamma

Monday, July 9: Bristol, NH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 26
Lot: Kelley Park

This morning I walked to a laundromat that was about half a mile from the lot. The woman running the place was so mean and nasty that it was almost comical. Almost.
Every other word out of her mouth was an obscenity, and I couldn't believe how rude she was to the customers. Maybe she could use some of that negative energy to clean her laundromat, which was filthy.

There was only one folding table in the whole place, and it was covered in stuff. I took my clothes home to fold, and I vowed to never give that woman's business my patronage again.

I went into town to a coffee shop with wifi so I could post yesterday's blog (good Verizon internet coverage  is not plentiful in New Hampshire), and then I explored an antique shop across the street.
I found lots of circus items, including a poster for a German show (Forgive me, but I forgot the name), and a plush elephant from the 1987-88 Ringling Red King Tusk edition.
I even met one gentleman, who after learning I worked for the circus, told me that he used to have a slapstick that you could load with a blank.

Sara came back to the show in Laconia, and the cradle act went back into the show today. It was mighty nice not having to bust our humps to get ready for the hillbilly gag.

The audiences in Bristol were great, especially the second crowd. It was so nice to hear big, loud laughs again after a run of demure spectators.

Once again we completely rewrote the new act, keeping only the two man high at the end. I wasn't too crazy about it after the first show, but I was nervous and rushed everything.
We took our time in the second show and actually got a couple of good laughs.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Sunday, July 8: Laconia, NH-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

This morning I decided to go back to the coffee shop that was "unattended" when I visited on Friday. Apparently I was just not destined to patronize that establishment, because Sunday is the one day a week when it is closed.

Our friend, Ted Lawrence, a former Red Unit clown, came to visit this afternoon. He also stuck around to see the first performance. Ryan and I had a great time swapping stories with him.

The new act went so well in the first performance; in the second show, not so much. Things didn't go exactly as planned, and I froze in the ring. The crowd was with us the whole time (thank goodness), but my brain could just not keep up with what was going on. 

John Moss found out right at the beginning of the 2 'o clock show that his mother had passed away. I cannot even imagine hearing that news and having to perform minutes later, much less announce and direct a performance. Please everyone keep John and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Easy, Peasy, One Two Threesy

Saturday, July 7: Laconia, NH-2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.

The movie last night didn't let out until 12:15 a.m., and once I got home I was wide awake. I finally fell asleep after 1. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling too refreshed this morning.
I walked in a daze to find some breakfast. I came across a restaurant I visited last year that had excellent egg benedicts, so I had a delicious meal to help motivate me for our three show day.

The weather was not as hot today, which definitely made the shows more bearable. The first crowd was rough, and we died in the ring for our new act. After some between show changes, it went better in the second show; some further tweaking and the third act of the day went very well.

Overall, it was an easy three show day. I didn't even feel worn out when it was over.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Does Whatever A Spiderclown Does

Friday, July 6: Laconia, NH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 66
Lot: Memorial Park

This morning I had a hard time finding a coffee shop (I know, right? Oh, woe is me).  The first one I found had no one behind the counter. I waited for awhile, and then I rang the bell for service. After waiting some more, I finally left in a huff. Actually, it might have been a minute and a huff.
There was a tip jar full of money sitting right in front of me the whole time; the owners of the coffee shop are very lucky that I'm an honest person. I only took about five bucks....

I'm kidding!

Next I went to a great little coffee shop that I remembered from last year. As I got closer to my destination, I noticed giant "For Lease" signs all over the storefront; the place was long gone.
I finally found a serviceable little restaurant where I had breakfast with my coffee. Saints be praised!

Ryan's mom took me, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico to the Clown Supplies store. Clownsupplies.com is where we order our make up and noses, and since they are based in Laconia, we try to stock up while we're in town.
We found out that the shop itself had closed (I'm glad I didn't make the mile and a half walk to find that out), but after calling the number on the sign, I was given the new address.
Now the shop is run out of the owner's house. We arrived at her place right before she did. She let us in and we shopped to our heart's content. (Racking up a huge bill in the end. I'd forgotten how expensive clown stuff is!)

Soon after our shopping spree, "Serenity the Clown", the owner of Clown Supplies, treated the show to a pizza lunch.

It was a hot, humid day. The first crowd was mighty rough; we died in the ring for our new act, but the audience's brutal honesty helped us rewrite and tighten up some bits.

Folks from the Hanneford show were at the second performance, including the Rinney Family, who we worked with on the Christmas tour last year.

Minutes before we went on, Ryan came to me with a rewrite for the new act. Our new excuse for being in the ring was to set Becky's small ring mat; we carried on the bit from there. It went well; I think that intro is a keeper.

After the show I hauled butt to get cleaned up so Radar, Elisa, and I could catch a late showing of "The Amazing Spiderman". I was afraid I would fall asleep, but even though the movie was long, it kept my attention. I enjoyed it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Learning New Tricks

Thursday, July 5: Hudson, NH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

I had a nice, relaxing day. The only errand I had to run was to go grocery shopping, and then I spent the rest of my time catching up on the show "Breaking Bad" (Season 5 starts on the 15th, and I have the entire 4th season to watch). If any of you have never seen the show, do yourself a favor and check it out!

The weather was not nearly as hot today; it made working so much easier. The Father Jerry Hogan CFA tent was at the first show, as well as the mother of Josh, one of our friends from our Ringling days and Ryan's Smirkus era.
Rick Davis came back for the second show with some of the students from his circus camp. One of the kids has aspirations to be a clown, so when I went out at Intermission to visit with them, I tried to give inspiring advice.

After the second show yesterday, we noticed that the slingshot from the Angry Clowns gag was broken beyond repair. We had been meaning to phase out the gag, and the broken slingshot was even more impetus to do so.
Several performers, whose opinions we value, mentioned that the second half opening spot is a lousy place for a gag with a story. They pointed out that people are still coming in from the concessions area after Intermission, and they aren't in the right mindset.
Plus, by doing a "topical" gag, we are alienating folks who have never heard of the game, "Angry Birds".
Also, honestly, the gag wasn't our best work, and we shouldn't settle for something that isn't good. We have so much slapstick in the show this year, that it takes away from our two main gags.

Ryan and I decided to do a simply structured act built around me attempting to stand on Ryan's shoulders. We left it extremely open and decided to do it without music, to allow plenty of room for play, improvisation, and connection with the audience.
It was daunting going out into the ring without a fully formulated plan for our act (we were still talking things through moments before entering the tent), but it was also liberating and exciting to be doing something by the seat of our pants.
Was it the funniest thing we've ever done? No. Was it perfectly, polished clowning? Nope. But it was fun, and the audience reacted favorably; better than crowds have been for Angry Clowns.

The act was very different the second show; our plan is to keep playing around to see what works until we have a more finalized act that still has plenty of room for playing around.
This style of clowning is very new to me; I am more comfortable with our usual style where everything is rehearsed and finely tuned.
But I believe this looser format is going to make us better clowns. We have such great freedom on Kelly Miller; it would be a shame not to utilize it to better ourselves.

After the shows Radar, Elisa, and I went out with Christian so he could celebrate his birthday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 4: Hudson, NH-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 37
Lot: Hill House Field

It was raining when I woke up this morning, and it continued to come down until I got to Hudson. Shortly after that the rain slackened off, and we were bad weather free for the rest of the day.
I hear some of my friends at Circus Smirkus had to deal with a storm containing high winds; it sounds like everyone is ok though.

We had early shows for the 4th of July. The heat and staggering humidity zapped our energy (the audience's too, unfortunately); honestly I wasn't having much fun today.

We did get a nice energy boost from Rick Davis, who was visiting with his wife and some of the staff from his circus camp. Rick was a Ringling clown in the 70s, and he is also the founder of "The Institute of Totally Useless Skills".
He brought copies of one of his books, "Totally Useless Office Skills", for me and Ryan, and I picked his brain about his time on the Big Show.

After visiting with our guests, I made my way over to the Kelly Miller 4th of July party. I ate some good food and played some fun games.
After Radar gave me a great idea, I tried to participate in the three legged race with the skeleton from our chase as my partner, but I was disqualified. I call that discrimination to the dermatologically challenged!

Here I am losing at Donut on a String

The only contest I came close to winning was Cookie on the Head, where you balance a cookie on your forehead and slide it down to your mouth to eat it without using your hands.
I figured I was a shoe-in, since eating cookies is my forte, but Armando beat me. At least I got a delicious cookie out of it!

I had a lot of fun watching the pie eating contest, which was surely the highlight of the night. The winner was Daniel, one of the animal grooms, who succeeded in breaking up the pie crust for easier consumption by slamming his head into it (and the table underneath). People were in tears; it was just too funny!

Daniel is in the center, wearing his "crown".

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worthy Of Durov

Tuesday, July 3: Merrimac, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 52
Lot: Waterhouse Field

Apparently there were a lot of ticks in the grass today. Delena told me I needed to check my duck, which made me think...how exactly would I search my duck for ticks?
First of all, he's black, and "second-of-ly", he would not make it easy for me. At the end of the ordeal, I probably would have lost more blood than he would if he did have a tick or two.

Ryan was dragging today; the heat and humidity didn't help matters. When we ran out to do the Angry Clowns gag in the second show, his feet went up over his head and he wiped out. When I turned to him after finishing my opening schtick, I saw him crawling around on the ground, trying to get up.
That pitiful sight made me (almost) sorry that I had to beat the snot out of him in the rest of the act.

I'm not sure what the deal is, but for the past few days, the audience response has not been living up to what I remember from past years in Massachusetts. I'm not just talking about for us either, but for the whole show.
I'm hoping it is just the heat, even though there is no end to that for the foreseeable future.

I'd like to apologize for today's blog. I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel for stuff to write about. 
But "they can't all be gems", especially when I'm writing every day.

As a small token, here's an....interesting blog written by someone who saw Kelly Miller in NY two years ago. 
The author saw the show when Ryan and Tatiana were off taking care of green card business; the author's take on my version of the chair gag is especially amusing.
All this time I thought I was just falling out of a chair for two minutes, but no! My work has deep political undertones. Read on....

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WHAM! I'm Ok....

Monday, July 2: Hudson, MA-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 90
Lot: Elks Pavilion

Even though the jump this morning was 90 miles long, it was almost all highway, so it went by quickly. After I was parked I walked into town to find a coffee shop; I discovered that Hudson is a cool little town.

Ryan's maternal grandparents were visiting today. They took Ryan and his in laws to Marlboro, only about 5 miles away, so they could enjoy the Brazilian restaurant and market.
Ryan's uncle was also nice enough to bring him a few containers full of gasoline. None of the gas stations on this morning's drive were big enough for Ryan to pull into, and when he got to the lot he was basically on empty.

I was looking forward to performing tonight, but the audiences were pretty rough. Luckily there was a huge turnout from Ryan's family. Both sides were represented.
In between shows Ryan was kept busy with his large kindred crowd, while at the same time answering the questions of a photographer from his hometown newspaper.
A reporter from the same paper came by with some follow up questions to an interview Ryan gave over the phone a few days ago. I helped Ryan out, since he was already in over his head, by answering her queries.

There was decent rainfall before the shows, and it left a few puddles around the lot and in the tent. One puddle was (in)conveniently located right in front of the curtain that Ryan and I use for 99% of our entrances and exits.
Even though we did our best to avoid it, the soles of our big, stupid shoes still managed to get wet, and every time we would run onto the ring mat, I would slightly lose my balance.
In the skeleton chase, when I was running pell mell after Ryan, my feet came right out from under me, and I went down flat on my face. The shovel I was carrying slapped the ground with a satisfying smack, perfectly emphasizing my ineptitude.
To play it off, I laid on my stomach for a few seconds and did the breast stroke before getting up, dusting off my bruised ego, and finishing the chase.
Of course, the circus kids that are in the ring during the chase didn't let me hear the end of it!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Funny, Not Scary....But Not Cute Either

Sunday, July 1: Pembroke, MA-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 52
Lot: Community Center Ball Field

This morning I almost ran out of gas. I had a quarter of a tank left, and I kept putting off exiting the highway to find a station; I figured I would pass one on the route.
When I did finally pass gas (tee hee) stations, they were either too small for my rig or full of circus vehicles.

Luckily I made it to town, and I had a clear exit path from the lot, so I was able to unhook my truck and fill 'er up. Even without my trailer, the gas stations I found were tricky to get in and out of with my vehicle.

Bob Lessard and Rick Cobbin came back to visit today. Bob took Armando on a sightseeing tour full of historical places, but I was taking a nap and missed the invite.

It was another hot day, but at least there was sufficient cloud cover to give us intermittent breaks from the sun.

Will, an aspiring clown, was at the first show. John Moss came and got me after the show so I could say hello. I went out to the midway to visit with him and his family; his presence in the audience was a good reminder to always do my best, even when I'm not feeling it or the audience isn't the greatest.

In between shows Ryan and I had a great time picking Rick Cobbin's brain about his time on Ringling in the 70s. Those are the kind of visits for which I live.

It drizzled rain for the first half of the second performance, but it didn't cool down too much. The air was still incredibly thick and sticky.


Here's a neat website I found while I was stumbling around online yesterday. This man took his family to see our show last year, as well as Ringling's Red Unit, "Fully Charged". Here is his comparison/review of the shows:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hey, Rube!

Saturday, June 30: Attleboro, MA-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

It was another hot day, which is never any fun with early shows. Ryan's dad and his fiance came to the first show, and Ryan's mom and her boyfriend came to the second show. At least we had some folks in the crowd to give us incentive not to pass out in the ring. We needed it!

While I was sitting in my trailer during one of the shows I heard a noise from my fridge that sounded like someone had dumped out a cooler of ice.
I looked inside and saw that my top shelf had frozen solid and then shattered into a million pieces of icy glass. The pieces and shards went everywhere, even into my cups of drinking water. I had to take all my food out so I could give the fridge a thorough cleaning; it was not a lot of fun.

Radar, Elisa, and I went out to dinner at a great restaurant down the street. While we were gone, a drunken towner caused a scene in the animal yard and almost started a "Hey, Rube!" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hey,_Rube!
I miss all the excitement! Which is probably good, me being a coward and all....

Luckily the situation never escalated beyond some yelling, and the drunken fool drove off, which is probably the scariest part of the whole scenario.