Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Firecracker"

Saturday, September 29: Rolling Meadows, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 17
Lot: Community Center Park

Ryan and I went to one of my favorite restaurants this morning for breakfast. We discovered the Egg'lectic Cafe our first year on Kelly Miller, and they have the best eggs benedict I've ever eaten.
After my delicious meal I felt as full as a tick. Kinda like this guy:



Google Maps informed us that there was a Half Price Books only 4 miles away in Elk Grove Village, so after running some errands we drove over to peruse their selection.
Unfortunately my phone led us on a wild goose chase, and there was no book store to be found.
We settled for a Barnes & Noble closer to Rolling Meadows so Ryan could look at their DVD section. Alas and alack, there were no movies at the particular store we visited.
We just couldn't catch a break!

Back at the lot, Valerie knocked on my door and presented me with a gift that she found at a yard sale.



I haven't named him yet, but this duck is a much better companion than Emmie. He doesn't bite me, he doesn't poop all over the place, and I don't have to spend any money on him.
Hmmmmmm. Perhaps it's time that Emmie went the way of Old Yeller....

A couple of weeks ago, John Moss took two of the old microphones to Shure headquarters in Chicago; today he put one of them into circulation as my microphone for package delivery. It worked great, and now he and I don't have to awkwardly share one microphone at the end of the number.

Between shows Ryan and I watched "Splinter" for our "Scare-athon". It wasn't great, but it fulfilled its purpose.

And this happened.

We discovered a funny new bit in the surfboard gag today just by playing around. Mr. North and Lamount both told me later in the evening how much they enjoyed it.

After the shows a group of us went downtown to a Tapas restaurant to celebrate Sara's birthday. There were about 17 of us, so we ordered a special where many of the dishes were brought out for the table to share.
Everything I tried was delicious!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Wrong Turn."

Friday, September 28: Wilmette, IL-4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Miles: 10
Lot: Mikaelian Ed. Center

Our friend Alex Zaprudsky came by to visit today. He just returned from a trip to NYC for a job interview, and he stopped by to see us for a few hours on his way back home.
He took me to a swank mall not too far from the lot where we had lunch and walked around for a bit.

Sam, David, and Tobin, Ryan's friends from Smirkus, came by to visit again today. We played a little ultimate frisbee with them between numbers, and in between shows we got to sit down and actually talk.

Wilmette is a very affluent town, and all of the people in the audience seemed extremely well off. Ryan and I had fun shocking the rich people (especially the wealthy dowagers) with our uncouth slapstick.

When Ryan and I went out to play our cornets at the start of the second show, there were two rude men standing up in the front row of the preferred seating section; they were talking to each other and blocking the view of those behind them.
Halfway through our song I noticed that they were still standing, so I wandered over to them and played in their faces, which got a nice laugh.
Finally we finished the song, and when I turned and styled in their direction, they were still standing and talking!!!!
I yelled to them, "Thank you guys, but no need for a standing ovation."
When they realized they might inadvertently be giving us encouragement, they quickly sat down.
Yeesh!

Because of the show schedule today, there wasn't much downtime between performances. In fact, there was about a 10 minute hold so the second audience could enter the tent and get settled.

After work Ryan and I ordered a pizza and watched a horror movie, "Trick 'r Treat" to be specific.
Neither of us had seen it before, but we had heard good things. We both enjoyed it, even though a couple of scenes were a tad too stomach turning to watch while eating.

The good news is that we found the perfect Halloween costume for Nico!

Friday, September 28, 2012

You Outta Be In Pictures!

Thursday, September 27: Chicago, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 45
Lot: Warren Park

This morning I walked to a Starbucks about a mile away from the lot. On the way I passed through a sketchy neighborhood. Some guy who was high on more than life was stumbling around in front of me.
All of a sudden he stopped in the middle of the small sidewalk, and from behind it appeared that he was about to urinate.
I had to squeeze by him, and for that brief second I was afraid he was going to wash my shoes for me, or stick a shank in my side.
As soon as I passed by he came out of his stupor and resumed his morning stumble.
Whew.

I heard that the police had to break up a fight in the preferred seating section during the first Intermission. Classy!
The second audience was fantastic; they must have channeled all of their fighting anger into laughter and applause!

Sam, Ryan's former partner, came to visit during the second show. Unfortunately we didn't have a ton of time to visit because we had to move to the next town after work.

Before I left the lot in Chicago, I visited with Tim Gault, who caught the second performance.
My visiting put me a bit behind schedule; the tent was down and almost packed away by the time I finally got rolling.

Luckily it was an easy 10 mile jump to Wilmette, the next town. After getting parked, Ryan and I unwound for the evening and watched an episode of Family Guy. It was Halloween themed, so I guess it loosely fits into our "Scare-athon"....

Important Announcement!

The Steve & Ryan 8x10s are here! We received them in the mail today along with our new business cards, both of which were designed by Alex Zaprudsky.


If you would like to order an autographed 8x10, please e-mail me at stclown@lowcountry.com. (you can also use the e-mail on our website at www.steveandryan.com)


Thursday, September 27, 2012

30 Days

Wednesday, September 26: Tinley Park, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 21
Lot: Odyssey Fun World Grounds

On the bottom of this morning's route slip, there was a reminder that we only have a month left of the 2012 season. Hurrah!

We were showing on gravel today; in the first surfboard gag I did a front fall (where I fall like a plank and break the momentum with my hands) and got a sharp rock right in my left palm. I finished the gag gritting my teeth in pain.

After the gag I talked it over with Ryan, and we are going to start taking the front fall out when we play on cement and rocks.
The back falls don't worry me because I am in better control of my body, and I can take them as softly as I want. There is no way to safely do that front plank fall on some surfaces.
We wrote a replacement bit that went into the second show. It didn't pack the same wallop as the usual bit, but it got us where we needed to be.

Jim and Carol Streit came back to the show tonight, along with their daughter and one of their sons. While we were visiting with them, we saw the Chicagoland Kelly Miller super fan who has bought tickets to see the show four times now.
A husband and wife clown team were performing meet and greet at the shows, and they came over to say hello as well. The woman told me that they have a picture of me hanging in their bedroom. I asked how they could sleep without having nightmares.

There was a young woman (around my age, probably a couple of years younger) sitting in the preferred seats at the second show that was "afraid" of us.
I first noticed her in the package delivery bit, because she was making a scene when we passed by her. I cautioned Ryan, who was carrying the package, not to get too close, because she was apparently scared of boxes.
Now normally I would have let it go at that, but every time I saw her during the rest of the show, she was either turning her head to avoid watching us, texting on her phone, or scowling at us with the same repulsion you would reserve for when you find dog poop on your shoe.
I decided to have a little fun with her.
In finale the lights are turned off twice. During one of those blackouts, I jumped over the ring curb, crouched behind the bally cloth that separates the preferred seats from the ring, and crawled on my knees and elbows over to where she was sitting (cutting up those body parts on the gravel in the process).
When the lights came up for John Moss' goodbye, I popped up in front of the lady and yelled, "I hope you had a good time!"
Her reaction was priceless. There was a huge laugh from the audience, her boyfriend and family were cracking up, and Ryan was practically crying from laughing so hard. I even heard John Moss chuckle during his "The circus never leaves town...." speech.

I haven't done anything wacky and spontaneous like that in a long time, and it sure felt good to make the audience as well as the other performers laugh, hopefully breaking up the tedium of day to day trouping in the process.

After the shows Ryan and I said goodbye to the Streit family, and then we had to make the jump to Chicago.
We drove 45 miles, but it was a piece of cake because we took the Interstate the majority of the way. We were even treated to a beautiful view of the downtown Chicago skyline as we drove by.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tango & Paprikash

Tuesday, September 25: Crest Hill, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 28
Lot: Prairie Bluff Golf

On this morning's jump I had to slam on my brakes to avoid going through a traffic light. When I got to Crest Hill, I went inside my trailer to survey the damage; all the paperwork, pens, and other paraphernalia that was on my dinette table was on the ground.
grumble grumble

I ran some errands this afternoon; nothing too exciting, though. I went to the post office, picked up a brake light that I owed Castro, and put fuel in my truck.

Today Ryan and I watched the horror film, "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark". We were not impressed.
I saw the trailer in theaters two years ago, and it scared the pants off of me (which in turn scared everyone around me):



Sadly the movie did not live up to my lofty expectations. The one funny thing about the film was that the girl in the lead role looked like Gigi, Sara's little girl.

It was surprisingly humid today. What with the drastic changes in weather, it can't be too long before sickness starts spreading through the backyard.

Jim Streit, a former Blue Unit clown from the early 80s, and Carol, his wife, came to watch the second performance.
Afterwards they were nice enough to take me to their beautiful home in New Lenox, IL where I was treated to some of Carol's delicious homemade chicken paprikash.
I haven't had any paprikash since our Hungarian friends made some for me and Ryan when we visited the Blue Unit in 2009. Carol's was excellent, and I had no problem polishing off two plates of it.

Jim and Carol were even nice enough to haul my sorry butt back to the lot in Crest Hill, even though Jim was only going to get a few hours of sleep before he headed to work. They made sure that I left their house loaded up with pasta and some of Carol's homemade sauce with sausage.
The Streits sure know how to take care of a fella!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Make Out With That Moose

Monday, September 24: Richton Park, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 48
Lot: Lakewood Fields

Today for our "Scare-athon" Ryan and I watched "Cabin in the Woods". I have been very excited to see the film since it came out in theaters, and it did not disappoint me.
I thought the movie put a very clever spin on the stereotypical "young people in trouble" plotline, and there were tons of surprises and homages that I, as a Horror fan, loved.

(I'm not putting a photograph, because I don't want to give away anything to those of you who haven't seen the film yet)

The audiences tonight were great. There was one interesting thing about them though, especially for the second show. The crowd would be right there with us for each gag, laughing loudly at everything, even the subtle stuff. Then, when we'd get to the blow off (surprise ending of the gag), the people seemed indifferent. We expected huge laughs, considering their response for the rest of the material, but the endings didn't seem to pack a punch for them.

In the first package delivery bit, a lady in the audience was handing a box of Swedish Fish to her husband as I passed between them.
I begged, like the dog I am, and she rewarded me with a couple of fish. I gave one to Ryan and commenced chewing mine.

As many of you know, Swedish Fish take awhile to chew. I was still working on mine during the lengthly package delivery blow off where the contents of John Moss' package shatter.
Since I hadn't finished by the time the sound effect was over, I spit my half chewed fish into my palm and offered it to John as consolation.

There is a gentleman who lives in the area that is a big fan of our show. He saw the performance first in Crete, then retuned a few days later in Beecher, and we saw him again tonight in Richton Park.
If you ever read this sir, thank you for your enthusiasm and patronage!

Monday, September 24, 2012

"You Should Hang In The Louvre"

Sunday, September 23: Itasca, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 29
Lot: Washington Park

The temperature got down into the 30s last night, so the generator ran all night long. I woke up at the same time that it was turned off, which was very disorienting to me.
The first thought that popped into my head was that I had fallen asleep last night and only slept for an hour or so until the usual weekend shut off time for the generator: 11:00 p.m.

We drove over some bumpy roads this morning, and when I got to the lot in Itasca I entered my trailer only to find that my olive oil bottle had fallen off the counter and shattered.
I spent the first part of my morning cleaning up the oil and shards of broken glass. On the plus side, I can now just eat salads off of my floor.

There was a photographer at the first show that was all up in my grill during package delivery. I tried to make a bit out of it, but every time I turned around he would literally be right in my way or have his camera shoved in my face.
Ryan almost "accidentally" ran him down while he was carrying the big, cumbersome box, but the photo crazy man still didn't get the hint.

Once again there were no camels in the show, so we had to bust our humps (you liked it before, you'll love it again!) to make the quick change for the hillbilly gag.

Today I watched a movie that I have owned for five years, but never gotten around to viewing. It is called "The Night They Raided Minsky's", and if you're a fan of burlesque comedy, definitely check it out!
One of the stars, Norman Wisdom, plays the top banana in the film. He is phenomenal, and in my opinion, he steals the picture.

Pepe, who is currently working with Tom Dougherty on Cirque Arlette Gruss, introduced me to his work my final year on Ringling. Check it out for yourself in this clip from "Minsky's":



(Wisdom is the short comic)

We jumped to the next town, Richton Park, after the shows. I made it off the lot quickly after the performance ended, and I was the second trailer to arrive at the new lot.
I'm glad we made the jump at night; with all the stop lights plus morning traffic, the 48 mile drive would have taken hours!

After I was parked I unhooked and drove to Walmart to get my weekly grocery shopping out of the way. It was a smart move on my part to go tonight, because with the tent up I will be stuck on the lot.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do You Read Sutter Cane?

Saturday, September 22: Island Lake, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 37
Lot: Water Tower Park

It was incredibly cold this morning, and to make matters worse, the wind was blowing without mercy.

Ryan and I continued our "Scare-athon" today with the film "In The Mouth Of Madness". It's not a great movie, but there are some creepy scenes and some inventive monster make ups. Too bad almost all of the creatures that the filmmakers created are only seen for a fraction of a second at a time; I suppose that increases their scariness.



I owe Castro a brake light, so I walked to a nearby Autozone to see if I could pick one up. Unfortunately they didn't have the style I needed. The search continues!

The tiger arena take down recently became a lot faster, which is nice for us. Now Ryan and I don't have to stretch out the package delivery bit so much.

The camels weren't working today, so Ryan and I had to bust our humps (hardy harr) to make it on time for the hillbilly gag. Sara and Delena's cradle act was all we had to make the elaborate costume change after package delivery.

Our friends Jeannie and Suzanne were at the second show, along with their friend Jewel. Every time that Jeannie comes to see the show, I screw up while playing my cornet. (From hearing me play, you might surmise that she has been at every performance this season)

After work our friends took me, Radar, and Elisa out to eat. Our first few choices for dinner were either too busy or closed, so we settled on a little diner in town.

Quite awhile after we had ordered, the waitress came back to tell us that a couple of things that we wanted were not available, and when she brought the check, she all but threatened us to leave so they could close up.
Needless to say, we were not very impressed with the service, a feeling I hope our tip conveyed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Awhooooooo!

Friday, September 21: Elmhurst, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 10
Lot: Sandburg Middle School

I got to sleep in this morning; however, I woke up an hour before I normally would have so I could get ready for a PR event.
Every year a group of special needs children comes to see the tent raising, and then they are treated to a short performance on the midway.
This year Carolyn showed off her llamas and little goats, Lamount displayed his fire manipulation skills, and Ryan and I demonstrated to the crowd what happens when you don't go to college.

It was a cold, dreary morning, and it was lightly misting rain on and off during the performance. I was not too happy with the job that Ryan and I did, mainly because we were doing some juggling, and the skills that went off perfectly in practice did not work out so well in front of a crowd.
Regardless, everyone watching seemed to have a good time.

After getting cleaned up, Ryan and I drove to a book store in town that we always visit. I uncovered a few good finds: a "Red Dwarf" episode guide, the novel "The Princess Bride", and Kurt Vonnegut's "Slapstick".

After we had our fill of perusing literature, I dropped Ryan off at the lot and then went to do some grocery shopping. Even though I went a few days ago, I forgot a few essentials.

Ryan and I resumed our "Scare-athon" today with the 1980 werewolf classic, "The Howling". Even though the transformation scene in 1981's "American Werewolf in London" was totally revolutionary, the creative team for "The Howling" were no slouches.
I had forgotten how awesome some of the make up effects and animatronics were.


Probably my favorite part of the whole movie was when Twinkie, Tatiana's chihuahua, started howling along with the werewolves. That was truly bone chilling!

The weather did not improve from this morning's cold dreariness. In fact, it was more miserable because a cold rain sporadically fell during the shows.

Luckily the second audience gave us a great response, and I got a nice laugh in the package delivery bit.
A girl in the audience was wearing a rainbow wig and yelling, "I'm your sister!"
I swapped wigs with her and once again tried out this bit:


Thankfully this time I was rewarded with applause and laughter, and not blank stares like when I tried it out a few months ago.

A few days ago Jim Royal told us that his nephew was coming to the show in Elmhurst with a girl. His nephew wanted me and Ryan to get the girl to go to the homecoming dance with him.
We told Jim that since we were big losers in high school (and still continue to be) we were the worst people he could come to for help on asking girls out. Nevertheless, we agreed to help out.

Ryan and I went out at Intermission to ask the girl to the homecoming dance ourselves. I had a jacket on backwards and constantly wiped my nose with my hands and tissues that I had (when I wasn't sneezing my wig off). Ryan was wearing his puffy shirt, jacket, shorts, glasses, and funny teeth, and he adopted the Jerry Lewis Nutty Professor voice.

After both of us were rejected by the girl, Ryan asked her, "Well who are you going to go with?"
She answered that she was going with Jim's nephew, who happened to be her boyfriend as well.

Still talking in his nerd voice, Ryan profusely congratulated the couple. Then, turning to Jim's nephew, he dropped the act and demanded in his normal voice, "That'll be 50 bucks."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Snazzy!

Thursday, September 20: Lyons, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 40
Lot: Smith Park

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I was just in a foul mood right from the start; the large number of school kids wandering through the back yard and harassing my duck certainly didn't help improve my humor.

I had a very productive morning at least. I walked to the laundromat and I also ran by the post office while my clothes were washing.
When I got back to the lot Ryan and I spent the afternoon working on paperwork for our circus clown intensive. It's going to be great!
Unfortunately we didn't have any time for a horror movie today; we'll have to double up at some point.

Our friend Susan from the Brookfield Zoo came by to visit today. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to visit with her, but I saw her in the seats during the first performance.

I was still in a funk at the beginning of the first show, but after realizing that I phoned in my performance for the package delivery bit, I snapped myself out of it and got my head into the game.

The second audience, a lively Latino crowd, really put me back into a good mood. They reminded me of the fantastic audiences we have down in the Rio Grande Valley; I can't wait to go back there next year.

We had to jump to Elmhurst, the next town, after the show, but I didn't even break a sweat doing it. It was a quick, easy 10 mile jump, made even easier because Castro fixed the left turn signal on my trailer.
Now at least I'll know that if people won't let me merge to the left, it's not because they don't know my intentions, but rather that they are jerks.

In closing, here is the outfit that we made for our friend Alex Zaprudsky in return for all the great promotional work he has done for us.
Looking good, Alex!



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Join Us!

Wednesday, September 19: Elburn, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 26
Lot: Lions Park

I walked into town today, but there wasn't much going on. I had seen a sign reading "Market" on this morning's drive, so I figured I would check it out and pick up a few basic items that I needed.
Unfortunately it turned out to be a meat market, so I returned to my trailer empty handed.

To continue with our "Scare-athon", today Ryan and I watched the 1981 horror classic, "Evil Dead". Even though it was made on a shoestring budget, the makeup and gore effects are very impressive, and often quite ingenious.
Ryan and I had a good time pausing certain scenes to admire the filmmakers' handiwork, and to get ideas for Halloween.

I think I dated her....

The wind was blowing like crazy today. Even though I have a protective door over my water heater, the gales were blowing in just the right direction that they kept snuffing out my pilot light. It was extremely frustrating.

Before the first hillbilly gag, John Moss told us that the show computer was experiencing problems. Sure enough, halfway through the hillbilly gag the music just stopped.
Ryan and I carried on as if nothing was amiss, and the audience still laughed at our moldy, old antics. No harm, no foul.

During the peanut pitch the computer problem was fixed, and there were no more sound issues for the evening.

Even though they stuck with us through the music snafu, the audiences tonight were a bit tame for my taste. 
I could especially feel the lack of energy when we opened the show. It was almost as if there was a black hole in the atmosphere; quite a strange phenomenon. 
Likely the wonderful audiences in Kingston the night before spoiled me.

Since we are heading back into the Chicago suburbs again, we made the jump to Lyons, the next town, after the shows.
The stop lights I encountered on the drive were bad enough; I can't imagine how much city traffic would have slowed us down if we had waited until the morning to drive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Never Drink....Wine.

Tuesday, September 18: Kingston, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 51
Lot: Kingston Park

I thought this morning's drive would be fairly quick since we were heading out of the city, but it still took two hours to go only 51 miles due to the large amount of stoplights.

Kingston, IL is about as different as can be from the mall town where we just spent four days. And you know something? I kinda liked being back in a small town with nothing to do; for one thing, it kept me from going out and spending money!

Ryan and I began our horror movie "Scare-athon" today. We were going to start October 1st, but we simply have too many films that we want to watch this year.
We kicked the event off by watching the 1931 horror classic, "Dracula". I had never seen it before, and although I can appreciate its importance to cinema history, it simply wasn't for me.
I'm sure it was very creepy when it first came out, but to me everything seemed hokey, especially the shots of Bela Lugosi hypnotizing his victims.


I mean, look at how silly he.......

.......

I. retract my previous. statement. Bela Lugosi. is the greatest. actor ever. I will. now watch all his films. including. the wonderful. "Plan 9 From Outer Space".
Now. I must go. find fresh blood for. my master.

.......

Sorry folks. I don't know what came over me. Luckily in my stupor I walked into my trailer door and snapped out of it.
Those crafty Hungarians! 

I was so happy to be back on grass after showing on cement for four days. As soon as I left my trailer in my clown shoes, my feet could feel the glorious difference.
On top of the comparative luxury of falling on soft ground, the show's audio was back to normal. 
It's good to be back on grass!

I really wanted to do laundry today, especially since my hillbilly costume got soaked in nasty water from last night's show, but my truck was blocked in.
My long johns smelled SO BAD. When I was putting on the long shirt, I almost suffocated from the horrible smell coming off my costume.

The audiences for both shows were fantastic. They laughed at all our material, no matter how subtle. Those are the shows I live for.

After work Ryan and I began establishing the schedule for the clown intensive we are teaching this winter.
One of our fans, who is an aspiring clown, contacted us a couple of months ago and asked us to conduct a workshop for him.
It is going to be a grueling 4 days, but I think all three of us are going to have a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ah, The Joys Of A Mudshow

Monday, September 17: Vernon Hills, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Today was our final day in civilization, as well as the end of our multiple day stands for a little while, so I made sure to enjoy sleeping in and being able to walk to pretty much anything my heart desired.

During the first show the heavens opened up after the skeleton chase and it began to pour. I sat in my trailer and laughed to myself since I had finished my duties in the first half before the rain came.
Unfortunately when Ryan and I entered the tent to start the second half, I saw that the laugh was on me, because the ring was a disaster!

Since we are on cement, the rain ran through the tent and left big wet spots on the ring mat. When we were doing the surfboard gag, I was lying in a puddle for half of the act.
Ah, the joys of a mudshow!
Since there was no getting around that fact that I was now filthy, when I finally got on my feet, I tried looking behind me and then asked a lady in the front row, "Is my butt wet?"
She nodded assent, and I continued with the act.

Sadly, my dignity was not the only thing in peril with the wet ring mat. When I did a front fall in the surfing gag, my left hand hit a wet spot and slid, nearly causing me to bash my face into the cement.
Ah, the joys of a mudshow!

By finale, there was not a dry spot left on the ring mat. As we were walking back to our trailers, Ryan asked if I had a balloon. I asked him why, and he replied, "So we can do 'Bigger, Bigger' next show and avoid falling down!"

A crew from the Midnight Circus came to visit us for the second show. Ryan knew most of them from Circus Smirkus, and one of them, Sam Brown, was his partner before we teamed up in 2008.
I was sorry that they had to see us with the handicap of a slick ring mat, but we gave it our all, and we succeeded in not busting our skulls open.

I think the worst part of the second show for us was the hillbilly gag. We are the first act that requires the ring mat, so it is kept folded up from the end of finale until moments before we enter.
This allowed all the water (both rain and grey water), animal pee and poop (which had baked into the ground for four days until the rain stirred it up again), and sawdust to sit and ferment within the folds of the mat for over an hour.
After rolling around on the mat in the gag, we both agreed that the only thing that could save our once nice costumes would be a good burning.
Ah, the joys of a mudshow!

After being in one place for four days, Ryan and I were off our game for loading up my truck. The fact that it was raining on us while we worked didn't help matters.

Even though the shows tonight were a pain in the butt, we had a great, long visit with Sam, David, Tobin, Logan, and Kevin after work.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sweet Tooth

Sunday, September 16: Vernon Hills, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

I slept like a log from the minute I closed my eyes until my alarm went off this morning. Apparently I was worn out from all the dancing I did at the party last night.

I went over to visit with Dave and Sherri, our advance clowns, but Dave was out doing laundry. I talked to Sherri for awhile and played with their two dogs.

Gary Podolsky, a 1985 graduate of Ringling's Clown College, came by to visit today with his wife, who makes some of the best goodies I've ever eaten!
She brought her world famous (famous to my world anyway) strawberry, cherry, and chocolate chip jam bars, as well as delicious brownies packed with just a little bit of Heaven.
I reluctantly split my bounty with Ryan.

Gary and his wife watched the first show, along with Sandy Weber, who is on the board of directors for the International Clown Hall of Fame.
I visited with them at Intermission as well as after the show, when I actually had a chance to talk with them without being mobbed by my adoring fans.

Our friends Jeannie and Suzanne watched the second performance, and then Jeannie was nice enough to pick up the tab when they took me, Radar, and Elisa out to dinner after the shows.

In closing, check out these pictures from when Kelly Miller played Attleboro, MA earlier this year:

http://www.thesunchronicle.com/gallery/attleboro/the-kelly-miller-circus/collection_c8b7247a-c25e-11e1-8051-0019bb2963f4.html

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just Dance!

Saturday, September 15: Vernon Hills, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Every time that I get a chance to sleep in, I wake up and my body is sore. It's almost like my body doesn't realize that it hurts when I'm only getting a few hours of sleep during our one day stands.
Regardless, it means that somebody is getting old..........er.

I went over to Barnes & Noble this morning to do some horror movie research. My study aides were "101 Horror Movies To See Before You Die" (or you're killed in a horror movie, I assume) and "Horror Movie Freak" (that title really spoke to me).
Ryan and I are planning our second annual October "Scare-athon", and I wanted to get some ideas for movie titles we might have overlooked in the past.

While I was leaving the mall I ran into our advance clowns, Dave and Sherri Shepard. I visited with them for a few minutes before heading back home; they told me that they would be on the lot until tomorrow afternoon, and they planned on watching both shows.

Jim Koretz, a local photographer, came to the first show. He always makes a point to visit when we're in the Chicago area, and he always gets great shots of the performance.
While I was visiting with Jim at Intermission, there were three little kids who kept giving me five, hugging me, and telling me that they loved me.
They were really cute, and they helped make up for the stony faces I saw in the audience pretty much every time I made eye contact with people during the gags.

The second audience was much more responsive than the first, which definitely improved my mood. I also tried out a new bit in the hillbilly gag that went over great.
I thought of the bit awhile back, but I was always afraid to try it out because I was still in the Ringling mindset where your gag is ruled by the stopwatch.
Now that Ryan and I are taking our time in the gags (and reaping the benefits), it was the perfect time to try something new.

After the shows I was very excited for the dance party that Sara organized. She hired a DJ, who turned the tent into a dance club. There were lasers, a fog machine, and even a disco ball!
In addition there was a table of hors d'oeuvres and alcohol to get people in the mood to shake their booties.

I was a wallflower for awhile, but eventually I jumped into the ring with the other folks who were dancing, where I cut a veritable rug.
I in no way tripped the light fantastic, but I had fun jumping around and flailing my limbs in a haphazard fashion.
Lamount upped the ante by coming out on stilts to dance and give out glow sticks.

Here's a video I took before the party really heated up:

video

Thank you, Sara, for a wonderful time!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

T. Baby

Friday, September 14: Vernon Hills, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 21
Lot: Hawthorne Mall

After being able to sleep in for a couple of days, I did not want to wake up at 5:50 this morning. I kept hitting my snooze button until I finally made myself get up at 6. 
As I was getting ready to roll, Christian came over and jumped in my truck. Apparently he didn't feel like waking up this morning either and missed his ride.
I told him that he was lucky that I was feeling lazy too.

The circus is set up in the parking lot of a beautiful mall in Vernon Hills, so naturally many folks headed over to browse and shop after their morning work was finished.
I did my rounds with Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico, but I refrained from spending any money. I have too much good eating to do in the next few days to squander my money on anything else!

In the afternoon Ryan and I watched a few episodes of "Family Guy" that I had not seen yet. I was lying on the floor of Ryan's motorhome, minding my own business and enjoying the DVD.
Nico crawled up into his little recliner, stood up, and then jumped feet first onto my ribs. I think that's how he shows affection.
The good thing is that when I go back to being a birthday party clown, I can add "human trampoline" to my skill list, right alongside balloon animals and face painting.

The Norths returned to the show today. It looks like Ryan and I will have to actually start trying to be funny again!

Although I love being by a mall and staying in one place for four days, I hate being on asphalt. My legs were not happy with me about halfway through the shows.
On top of that, the acoustics drive me crazy, especially in the package delivery bit. 
I guess I just have to suck it up and console myself in the loving arms of Barnes & Noble when I'm not working.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Broomhilda

Tuesday, September 11: McHenry, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 19
Lot: Peterson Park

This morning after the jump Ryan, Alex, and I hit my two favorite spots: Starbucks and Panera Bread. McHenry is a great town for me, consumerist hog that I am, because it contains most of my favorite restaurants and shops.

After breakfast I worked on Alex's clown costume. Ryan and I started it a year ago to repay Alex for all the great promotional work he's done for us (business cards, logo, website, etc), and we still haven't finished it. We're such terrible friends....

My friend Don Lansu came to visit this afternoon; he took me, Alex, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico to lunch. He was also nice enough to run us by Target for some shopping. This lady was in front of me in line buying up all the eye of newt.


A few weeks ago Don e-mailed me and offered to film our material for us. Since things have changed since Bruce Johnson filmed the show in Massachusetts (i.e. replacing the Angry Birds gag with trumpets), and we have tightened up the hillbilly and surfboard gags (We watched them at the DeSanto's house last week. We couldn't believe how fast we were moving. We have since taken our time and found moments to play a bit), we graciously accepted his generous offer.
Don got fantastic footage for us. I just wish the audiences had been better.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Breaking Mad

Monday, September 10: Round Lake Beach, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 35
Lot: Civic Center

Our friend Jeannie brought some breakfast from Panera Bread for me, Radar, and Elisa. It was a delicious way to start off the morning!

I walked over to Starbucks after eating so I could use their Wifi to download the newest episode of "Breaking Bad".
Last week's episode had a heck of a cliffhanger ending, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next.
You can imagine my dismay when I discovered that not only was there not a new episode this week, but I will have to wait until next May to see the next episode!
Apparently there was a deal made where the final season would be 16 episodes long, instead of the standard 13. Because of that, they aired the first 8 this year, and the final 8 will come out next summer.
DRAT, DRAT, AND DOUBLE DRAT!

Ryan and I walked over to a couple of fabric stores to buy material for our friend Alex Zaprudsky, and also for new gag costumes for us.
Speaking of our friend Alex, he arrived today. He is going to be visiting for a few days.

The ground in the tent tonight was terrible: uneven and as hard as my head. Luckily the audiences were great and helped make up for the shin splints we developed on account of the terrain.

The generator was having issues tonight. It died at the start of the first tiger act, and it died at almost the exact same point in the second show. Then again right at the end of the tiger act. Then again at the start of the cradle act. That meant no music and no lights.
After the show power was diverted to the back up generator, it was smooth sailing from then on.

During the package delivery bit, I quipped over the microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're Steve & Ryan: the one act that's better in the dark."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Woof Woof!

Sunday, September 9: Harvard, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 28
Lot: Milky Way Park

This morning I ran some errands: I did laundry, picked up a few groceries that I forgot to get yesterday, and I put fuel in my truck.

Between shows Ryan, Nico, and I broke open the piñata that Nathan and Michelle brought me in Bloomingdale.
I was afraid that it would be filled with bees or chocolate pudding (JeffSchott), but it had candy, rubber duckies, and a ball!
We used the ball and the bat that they provided to teach Nico how to play baseball. It was a lot of fun!

While we were goofing around with the bat and ball, a gentleman named Mark came over to say that he reads the blog and that he really enjoyed the first show.

Ryan and I had a lot of fun in the second show. Our friends Jeannie and Suzanne brought a lot of energy to the crowd, and there was a lady with a cat doll that had me and Ryan cracking up every time we were in the ring. She kept yelling things at us and waving the cat doll around; it was hilarious!

I ran out to say "hi" to my friends after the show, and then I rushed to get out of town. We jumped to the next town, Round Lake Beach, to avoid rush hour traffic.
It's probably a good thing we did, because the 35 mile drive took us quite awhile even at night.

Ryan and I were going to catch a late showing of the Will Ferrel movie, "The Campaign", but the theater's website lied to me, and there was no 10:30 p.m. film. Liar, liar, pants on fire!
I settled for dinner and relaxing at home watching the series, "Wilfred".

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Portrait Of Greatness

Saturday, September 8: Lake In The Hills, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 52
Lot: Sunset Park

Our advance clowns, Dave and Sherri, came by to visit today. They took me to brunch and I also got to do some grocery shopping. It was nice to visit with them for the morning.

It was a nice, cool day: perfect weather for doing shows. Between performances my friend Jeannie came by to visit with me and Radar. She came bearing gifts; I got this beautiful painting featuring Felix Adler, Emmett Kelly, Annie Frattelini, Red Skelton, Lou Jacobs, and Otto Griebling. Score!



Since we have a long break between shows on Saturdays, and also since we were right next to a pond, I threw Emmie in so he could swim.
Usually he jumps right back out of the water, but this time he was having a ball. I was afraid that he wouldn't come back to me!



My friend Don Lansu, as well as his wife and daughter came to see the second show. I visited with them during Intermission and briefly after the show.

Due to some stupid city ordinance, we cannot stay overnight in Lake In The Hills, so after the show I packed everything away and headed to the next town, Harvard.
Luckily it was an easy drive. It started to rain after I arrived, but I was already unhooked and set up, so I relaxed inside where it was nice and dry.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Balloon Heart

Friday, September 7: Berwyn, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 25
Lot: Janura Park

I woke up this morning ready to drive, and then I quickly remembered that we had made the jump last night.
Let me tell you, laying back down, secure in that knowledge, was a wonderful feeling!

Twin photographers, Jason and Justin Senft, e-mailed me a few days ago and asked for me to take a picture of their mother's old house in Berwyn. I tracked it down and snapped a photo for them; I also czeched out a Check....er, checked out a Czech bakery that they recommended.
Between the twins' suggestions and the help of the friendly staff, I was able to load up on some delicious pastries.

Later in the day Ryan and I walked downtown to check out a vintage store that we visit every year. Three years ago we found some awesome tux jackets with tails, but we held off on buying them. Naturally, the next year they were gone.
We were lucky and found a pair of tail coats this year, and we made sure to buy them right away.

After our purchase, we walked over to patronize a fantastic coffee shop that I found last year. Of course, as my luck always runs, it was closed down as of a month ago.
##@**%!

Ryan and I used our new tux jackets for the opening of the second half when we play our cornets. With some trim and colored buttons, the coats are going to look very sharp.

I had a lot of fun performing in the first show, and the second audience was fantastic. I think they were the best audience we have had all season; we brought the house down with everything we did. It was so awesome!

And now, for that big announcement I mentioned yesterday (in press release form):

GIGI AND I ARE GOING TO MONTE-CARLO


I am thrilled to announce that our friends, twin photographers Jason and Justin Senft, have won “Best of Show” in the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque’s 2012 photography contest for an unprecedented second time. Their winning image, portraying the contest theme "Circus: The Art of Happiness", features a talented circus elephant playfully painting a bright red heart onto an artist's canvas while a circus clown looks on with amazement. Their photo was selected by Federation Honorary President H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco and will be exhibited in January 2013 during the 37th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo.

Incredibly, three additional photographs by Jason and Justin were also selected and I am very happy to say that I am featured in one of them. When the show was in NJ, Jason and Justin captured a great shot of me giving Gigi a special heart-shaped balloon. Everyone will have to buy the calendar to see the award-winning photo (which I will be happy to autograph if you visit the show next year). I am told the photo will appear in the calendar for the month of February, perfect for Valentine's Day.

Although not circus performers themselves, Jason and Justin had to jump through hoops to get the shot for their "Best of Show" photograph. They had hoped to use Becky, the Kelly Miller elephant from their “Best of Show” photo last year; however, they were informed by her owners that she was not available. After quickly making some phone calls, the next day they drove twelve hours through five states and spent one hour to get one special image on the lot of another circus.

For all of their hard work, Jason and Justin won hotel accomodations for two nights as well as tickets to two competition shows at the circus festival in Monte-Carlo. To all our fans and circus collectors, I understand they are offering signed museum quality photographic prints of their winning image with the hopes that sales will fund their airfare to the circus festival in Monte-Carlo, Monaco so they can receive their award. Jason and Justin can be reached at: senftstudio@hotmail.com

Jason and Justin's "Best of Show" photo and the official announcement can be found here:

PHOTO: http://www.circusfederation.org/news?news_action=detail&news_detail_id=306&back_state=1
PRESS RELEASE: http://www.circusfederation.org/uploads/news/pdf/PhotoContest2012EN.pdf



Friday, September 7, 2012

A Visiting Kind Of Day

Thursday, September 6: Bloomingdale, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

After keeping Greg DeSanto up until past 3 a.m. talking shop, you can probably guess that we didn't get very much sleep.
We woke up at 7 a.m., had some coffee, and said goodbye to the DeSanto family.

I made good time driving back to Chicago. As soon as we got back to the lot we dropped off our luggage and Ryan followed me in my truck to the Avis center so we could drop off our rental car.

On our way back to the lot we stopped by a Half Price Books to browse. I picked up books on the art and animation of my two favorite cartoon rabbits: Roger and Bugs. I couldn't find any literature on my third favorite bunny, Ephram.



In Bloomingdale we were set up on the parking lot of a beautiful mall. I walked around inside quickly and got some lunch, but I was feeling worn out after getting only a few hours of sleep, so I headed back to my trailer to catch up on the blog and take a quick snooze.

My friend, Don Lansu, came by around 3 p.m. bearing a car full of gifts: a case of Guinness, a short documentary on Giovanni Zoppe's show, and a stack of recent Circus Reports for me, as well as some gifts for Nico.

Don stuck around to watch the first show, and my friend Paul Lee, a local magician, also was in the audience with some of his friends.
At Intermission I was out visiting with them, and there was a boy sitting near by that kept offering me popcorn.
Since I can NEVER turn down free food (gluttonous pig that I am), I gladly accepted.
Sadly that generosity backfired on me. When I was playing my cornet at the start of the second half, a small kernel of popcorn that was stuck in my teeth un-lodged itself and got stuck in my throat.
I immediately stopped playing and began hacking and coughing for the rest of the number.
Just remember kids, no good deed goes unpunished! (Although I don't think that's how it is supposed to work)

I apologized to Don afterwards, because I had a terrible show. Nothing went right for me in the acts (such as the popcorn incident); I think it was my worst performance of the season.

Luckily I redeemed myself for the second performance, and the audience was awesome! There was so much energy in the air.
I received an extra shot in the arm because I had so many friends watching: Nat Brown (who is a wiz with big tops), magicians Steve Chezaday and Paul Lee (Paul is obviously a glutton for punishment), Nathan Holguin and Michelle Musser (Circus World Museum's clowns for this year; Nathan and I worked together on the Blue Unit), Harpo (1978 Clown College grad who I saw yesterday at the Hall of Fame), and Wayne Scheiner (He was such a good host to me and Radar when we played Peru, IN earlier in the season).

Nathan and Michelle asked me a few days ago what I wanted as a free roll, and I told them to surprise me.



This piñata and bat were quite a surprise! I can't wait to break open that little clown's head and see what is inside. I hope it's not a brain. Again.

In addition to all my friends inside the tent, circus fans Bob Untereiner and John Broker were backstage visiting with folks.

Before the first show Tavo told me that we were moving to the next town after the performances. I was looking forward to visiting with my friends this evening (preferably at the Irish pub a few hundred yards from my trailer), but that's the way things happen sometimes on the circus.
Just so the night wasn't a total bust, Elisa was nice enough to go pick up some dinner for me from the pub. Normally I would have let it go, but this pub served boxty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxty), which I can NEVER find on the road.

After the shows I visited briefly with my friends and said my goodbyes, which put me a bit behind everyone else who was headed to Berwyn.
Luckily the drive was easy, and once I got settled at the new lot, I fell fast asleep.

There will be a big announcement tomorrow! I've already written enough for one day.
:o)



Monday, September 3, 2012

"Let's-a Go!"

Sunday, September 2: Schererville, IN-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

It was very nice to sleep in this morning. After we finally woke up, I went grocery shopping.
I had a bottle of wine in my cart, but when I went to check out, the lady behind the counter told me that I couldn't purchase alcohol on Sunday per state law.
I did a little research about it and found out that among some of Indiana's other interesting laws, you can't a) eat watermelon in a park or b) teach a monkey to smoke a cigarette.
Yeah, Indiana!

Albert, the Kelly Miller billposter, was visiting today, and he brought a clown doll for Nico. Ryan told me that when Nico was eating dinner, he was spoon feeding the doll, which he had sitting next to him.

The sun came out today, which helped dry up some of the soft ground. Unfortunately it didn't help alleviate the humidity.
I didn't expect the audiences to be too lively. Every time I looked out I saw people sitting and fanning themselves with their programs.

After the shows I joined Radar and his family for dinner. Sadly our curse (whenever I go out to eat with them, we have terrible service) held true this time.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Knights Of The ELD

Saturday, September 1: Schererville, IN-2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Miles: 20
Lot: St Michael Church grounds


Schererville is a veritable paradise as far as shopping and dining choices are concerned.

There was a pretty decent rainfall this afternoon. It made the ground mushy and nasty, and the weather turned humid and sticky. Blah.

Radar's family was visiting today, and his mom was nice enough to bring me some homemade cookies and pumpkin bread. That's one way to brighten my day!

There was a two hour break between shows. We're next to a church, and they asked that we not start the second show until 6 p.m. so that people could attend both mass and the circus.

After work I joined a group of friends for dinner at a steakhouse.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Monkey See....

Friday, August 31: Beecher, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 45
Lot: Fireman's Park

This morning Christian, Radar's groom, rode with me to Beecher because he overslept and missed his usual ride. It was nice having someone to talk to and keep me company on the drive; the skeleton that usually rides shotgun with me is not a great conversationalist.

Our friend, Mike Johnson, and his son, Alex, came to visit today. Mike brought me a Ringling Bros. coloring book from 1979.
Mike and Alex watched the first performance. I felt bad for them (and the rest of the audience) because it was so hot and humid in the tent.

Between shows Ryan and I had a great time laughing and sharing stories with our visitors. Jackpotting is one of my favorite parts of being in the circus; and it didn't even make me go blind like my mom told me it would!

I couldn't believe it, but it was more humid for the evening show than it was in the afternoon when the sun was out!

While we were loading up our props and getting my truck hooked up to my trailer, Ryan was having to hold Nico to keep him out of mischief.
Nico was making me laugh, because whenever Ryan would motion with his hands for me to back up, turn my wheel, or go forward, Nico was copying his dad with a big grin on his face. It was too cute!

We all had to move off the lot after the shows because a lot of rain was expected during the evening due to Hurricane Isaac.