Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 21

Ryan's uncle Kevin came by to visit Friday morning, and then he joined me, Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and Ryan's grandparents for lunch at the Brazilian BBQ restaurant. I bet you can't tell that we like that place...

The hour and a half drive to our last town of the tour, New Bedford, MA, was a royal pain in the butt because of the weather. For about 30 miles torrential rain was being blown directly at our minivan as we drove on the interstate. It was miserable. I could barely see five feet in front of me, and many drivers didn't have their lights on.
Luckily we survived the drive; we're very lucky the temperature wasn't lower. I can't imagine making that trip with ice and hail instead of rain.

In addition to Ryan's grandparents and uncle, Ryan's mom, dad, and step mom all came to the shows.
The crowds in New Bedford were fantastic, especially for the second show. It was definitely a great way to close the tour.

The gags we did on this year's Christmas tour were quite a departure for us. Namely we didn't beat the snot out of each other the whole time we were on stage. In fact, there was no hitting whatsoever. No big, cartoony props either.
It was great to prove to ourselves that we could still bring the house down by just being ourselves.

While packing up our props after the shows, we were saying our goodbyes to everyone in the cast.
I also said goodbye to Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico.

I spent Friday night with Ryan's dad and step mom, Chris and Bonnie, and on Saturday morning Chris took me to the Providence airport. I am now home in Walterboro, SC, while Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and Ryan's brother, Pete, are en route to Hugo, OK.

Bring on the vacation!

In closing here are a couple more photos from the Christmas tour. See you next weekend!

Ryan and I with John Sayre, one of our Circus Clowning Intensive students
Ryan and I with Santa John Bundy and balloonatic John Cassidy

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 19 and 20

Our friend, Carol from Maryland, was going to visit on Wednesday to have lunch with us and hopefully see the show, but she called in the morning and told me that she was sick. We were bummed that we have to wait until next summer to see her again. (Get well soon, Carol!)

We had to go to two different restaurants for lunch because the service at the first (Olive Garden) was terrible. We sat for ten minutes without any wait staff asking for our drink or food orders; people sitting around us were getting served the whole time, even a table of people that came in after us. We promptly left in a huff. Actually it may have been a minute and a huff.....
After finding a replacement restaurant, we went Christmas shopping for the members of our cast.

The crowds and the shows were much better for us today. In particular I was feeling especially on target with the second performance. I was glad that my fan family got to see it.
My first year on the Christmas tour I met a Hungarian family while meeting and greeting with people in the seats. I practiced my limited Hungarian on them and created a rapport with their three girls.
The cool thing is that every year they come to the show and I get to see the girls grow up.

Ryan and I with Boglarka and Maura

I always get a pick me up from my visits with the Kearney family.

As soon as the show finished Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I jumped in the van and drove the 5 1/2 hours to Ryan's grandparents' house in Massachusetts. We got in about 4:30 a.m. and promptly fell into our beds.

On Thursday morning we visited with Ryan's grandfather and mother for a bit before going to have lunch at a delicious Brazilian BBQ restaurant.
We then headed to Blackstone, MA to see Ryan's dad and step mom. After visiting with them for several hours we headed back to Ryan's grandparents' house for more visiting.

After such a hectic 9 days of driving and performing, a nice leisurely day of visiting was exactly what we all needed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 17 and 18

I was sad to leave my cousins' house on Monday morning. On the road you don't always realize how much you miss the comforts of home until you have access to them again.

December 17th marked Nico's 2nd birthday, so to celebrate his entrance into the "Terrible Twos", Ryan, Tatiana, and I took him to a Chuck E. Cheese establishment in Altoona.
The Alvarez family joined us for games, pizza, and birthday cake. We all had a blast!




While I was playing a game where you throw little footballs at different targets, one of my more powerful throws bounced off of a wall and rebounded directly into my eye.
You know the old saying, "It's not fun until somebody loses an eye"!

Our car laden with Nico's new Angry Birds toys, we began the three hour drive to our next show.

The Eagles' Lodge in Lebanon can be a very difficult venue (a small stage and even smaller backstage space), but this year I felt the show ran very smoothly.

The only difficulty we encountered was the nasty, rainy weather on the 90 mile drive to Folsom.

On Tuesday we spent the morning doing laundry. The excitement never ends on tour with Steve & Ryan!

In the first show in Folsom my metal folding chair broke during the cookie act. That put a cramp in my style since the act is very dependent on the chair. I muddled through as best I could, and I borrowed a chair from the school to get through the second performance.
In Lebanon the chair I had been using was misplaced, but we didn't sweat it too much since we had a spare in the van. Unfortunately, as I found out in the middle of the act, that chair was on its last leg (pun definitely intended).

The crowds in Folsom were not as enthusiastic as the rest of the audiences we've encountered on this run. Ryan and I had to work really hard to get anything out of them, which was difficult since every muscle in my body was aching. I hope I'm not getting sick.....

After the show most of the cast went out to dinner at the Applebee's down the street, continuing an annual tradition. Lots of fun, food, and frivolity was had by all.

When we got back to our hotel Ryan discovered that he, Tatiana, and Nico could not get into their room because the door handle was broken.
The management gave them a different room until the morning when the door could be opened. It was just a pain for Ryan and his family since all their luggage and toiletries were in the other room.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 15 and 16

On Saturday Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I met up with John and Clara Sayre at the Monroeville Mall, which is where one of my favorite zombie movies, Dawn of the Dead, was filmed back in the late '70s.
We had lunch and browsed some of the different stores. My favorite two spots were the toy store where I picked up decorations for my Bumble themed Christmas:


and the little zombie museum at the back of the arcade.

After a few hours of visiting, we had to say goodbye to John and Clara. We had a three hour drive up to Erie ahead of us, followed by a show at 7 p.m.

Our one performance was a piece of cake (especially after a couple of long two show days), and the audience liked us right from the beginning, which made working for them a real treat.

After we were done with the show we jumped back into the minivan and drove four hours to Hollidaysburg.
Even though the show had energized me, by hour three of the drive I was about to fall asleep. Luckily we made it to town safely, and my cousin, Michael, was nice enough to stay up until after 1 a.m. to welcome us into his house.

On Sunday we had coffee, scones, and biscotti with Michael and Heather, and then we headed over to the Altoona High School to set up for our 1:00 p.m. show.

We had a lot of friendly faces in the audience for the performance, including Pat and Thom Stevenson from The Freestate Clown Alley #30, David Orr from the Adam Forepaugh-Barry Lubin tent, Don Curtis, photographer extraordinaire, and "Clown Chips" from the Cole Bros. Clown Alley.

After the show Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I joined Gail Mirabella, her assistant, Luree, and the Alvarez family for the 3rd annual luncheon at Hoss's put on by the Forepaugh-Lubin tent. Our tent, #178 John Ringling North II-Steve & Ryan, was also a big part of the event with Pat, Thom, and Katie Harmke acting as representatives.

The back room of the Hoss's was converted into a celebration of the circus thanks to colorful decorations, many of them made by Katie.



We were all treated to a delicious meal, and our tent showered me, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico with gifts.
Perhaps the coolest presents were the jumpsuits that Katie spruced up with her embroidery magic. Simply beautiful work.

The jumpsuits came complete with "Jughead"/"Goober" hats.
Note the jug headed goobers underneath the hats.

We are so lucky to have friends like the clowns from the Freestate Clown Alley #30, and the members of the Forepaugh-Lubin tent that take such good care of us on the road.

Here are some more pictures from the event:

 Like kids on Christmas. 

 With Julius Carallo, aka "Clown Chips". And I thought I had wacky hair!

 Ryan and Tatiana showing off their Christmas photo wreath with Katie and Pat.

After partyting with the clowns and circus fans, it was on to second dinner (we must be Hobbits) with Michael, Heather, and Tyler. I can safely say that I was well fed in Altoona.
We topped off the evening by relaxing with my cousins in their beautiful home.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 13 and 14

It was great that we were able to stay in one place for  the first few nights of the tour. Besides that comfort, there was a great mall just four miles down the road where Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I spent most of our free time.

Before we left the area on Thursday morning, we stopped at a Sam Ash music store where Ryan bought a tuba and a miniature trumpet for Nico. So much for having free space in the car!
Luckily Clive and Tracy Allen were nice enough to give the tuba a home until the Combs family heads back to Hugo.

It was a three hour drive to Williamsport, the third town of the Christmas tour. We always play in a cool theatre downtown. Business for the two shows was great.

Our gags went very well. Now that we have gotten over the initial nervousness of the material being new, we were finally able to play around a bit and find moments to make with the comedy. (That's a technical term)

We were all pretty beat after our first two show day of the tour. (Listen to me. On Kelly Miller we do almost nothing BUT two show days!)
Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I had a two hour drive to Hollidaysburg after work to stay with some of my family: The Hiotts.
They were at a midnight showing of the movie, "The Hobbit", so they weren't around when we arrived. We let ourselves in and went straight to bed.

On Friday morning we got to visit for a little while with my cousins, Michael and Heather Hiott. We had coffee and bagels while we caught up.

Unfortunately we couldn't visit for too long, because we had to drive to McKeesport, our next stop on tour.
There we met up with our third Circus Clowning Intensive student, John Sayre, and his wife, Clara.
We had lunch and then they accompanied us to the high school to visit and watch our two shows.

The crowds in McKeesport were not the largest, but Ryan and I worked hard to win them over. I was glad that John and Clara got to see us perform.

Mike Perry, a Ringling clown from the 70s, lives very close to McKeesport, and he was able to come see our second performance.

After dinner John, Clara, and Mike joined me, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico for dinner. We had a great time swapping stories, and we were all laughing well into the next morning.
Thank goodness we were spending the night in town!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 10-12

On Sunday night Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I stopped to visit our friend Jeff Schott in Louisville, KY. We spent a few hours catching up before bedtime, and Monday morning he made breakfast and coffee for us while we continued to chat.
It's always a treat to visit with Jeff; I just wish we had more time to do so.


The second part of our drive to Pennsylvania was a real pain in the butt. It rained on and off (and with varying degrees of intensity) almost the whole way, which slowed our progress considerably.

We finally arrived at our destination: Norristown, PA around 11:30 at night. Norristown was located roughly halfway between our first two towns, so I figured it would be a good base of operations for a couple of nights.

Our opening show for the Christmas tour was in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. It was great to see our friends who are regulars on the tour.

Bill Hall, who produces the tour, had a brief meeting with us all before the first performance to go over details and the show running order. 
The 2012 edition of "'Twas The Gift Show Before Christmas" features the Alvarez family with their teeterboard, rola bola, and hula hoop acts, Gail Mirabella's dog act, the magic of Clive and Tracy Allen, me and Ryan, and the bizarre balloon-ology of John and Jen Cassidy.  
John Bundy hosts the show as Santa, and Larry Stout provides musical accompaniment. 

The first show is always hectic on the Christmas tour, but we made out alright. Our material was far from perfect, but the audience enjoyed our efforts. I was placated with the fact that we have plenty of opportunities for improvement before the tour is over.

On Wednesday night we had one show in the evening in Pottstown, PA. We were in a different venue than normal, so the show was held for about 15 minutes so people could make it on time (the location was changed at the last minute).

Ryan made me laugh tonight as we were putting on our make up. He commented, "It's funny that I spend so much time on something that makes people hate me."

I couldn't catch a break in the show tonight, all starting from the moment I went out into the audience to start our face painting. Then during the performance I was constantly getting tongue tied, and my interplay with Ryan and Santa was not exactly the sharpest.
Luckily our gags were a vast improvement over opening night, and they're only going to get better!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sorry

Hey everybody,

I'm sorry I have been so lax on updating the blog during the beginning of the Christmas tour.
I simply haven't had a free moment to devote my full attention to writing.

With that said, an update is coming tomorrow, come Hell or high water...or both.
See you tomorrow! I promise!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 3-December 9

Ryan and I have been so busy this past week...nay, this whole winter break. The work on props and costumes just never seems to end. Even when I actually have some time to relax my mind is still trying to convince me that there's some work I need to be doing.

Ryan began sewing costumes for next season's gags, and when he finished he would pass them on to me for the grunt work, aka sewing buttons.

Besides sewing, Ryan and I continued to rehearse our material for next year, as well as our gags for the Christmas tour.
I am now (becoming) proficient on the trombone. Unfortunately, when we picked up our cornets to practice, I found I had regressed on that instrument. D'oh!

One big prop in particular (which will be used in a chase next year) has been a royal pain in our butts. It required lots of time and attention on many parts that then all had to be brought together.
Oscar Perez did some welding for us (for which we are very grateful), and once we got all the parts of the prop together, a ton of hand stitching was required.
We stayed in the shop very late on Friday night just to get it done. The good news is that after all of our hard work, almost everything is ready for next season! There are just a few minor things that Ryan will take care of when we return from Pennsylvania. I know we are both looking forward to some much deserved time off.

Even though we have been kept busy, we've found a little time to be social. One night my friends Nick and Tangie had me over to their trailer at the Carson & Barnes Winter Quarters for dinner.
I walked over to Dudley's house one night so we could watch some Ringling TV specials on DVD (I found it funny that even though Dudley lives maybe 100 feet from my trailer, I was so busy that I wasn't able to go over and properly visit with him until over a month into our "vacation").
Another morning I had coffee with Jan over at the storage unit facility across the street. That same night our friend Natalie had me and the Combs family over to her house in Paris for dinner. It was nice to catch up with her and her daughters; we sure do miss them on Kelly Miller.

Saturday morning there was a memorial service to celebrate the life of Lucy Loyal. I was happy to see so many friends from the circus business, including people that I don't get to see that often like Jimmy Hall and Becky Raborn.
Jim Royal made an opening speech about Lucy's life, there was a video slide show, and then friends and family members got up and shared their memories of Lucy, both funny and touching.
The service was concluded with a big meal and lots of laughs and jackpotting among the guests.

After the get together I went home to get Emmie ready for travel. Buckner is being nice enough to take care of my duck while I'm away. I sure am going to miss him, and I hope he survives the winter so we can have some more adventures next year.



That same day Ryan and I drove to Dallas to pick up the rental minivan that will take us (along with Tatiana and Nico) all the way to Pennsylvania and back.
As I type this we are on the road to Louisville, KY to stay with our friend Jeff Schott for the evening.
Tomorrow we will press on until we reach Philadelphia, the first town of the Bill Hall produced "'Twas The Gift Show Before Christmas".
Check our website at www.steveandryan.com to see where we will be performing until December 21st.
If we're playing near you, please come out and say "Hi!"
I'll be updating the blog daily once the shows begin, so be sure to keep checking in here.

Before I forget, Christmas is coming! If you're looking for the perfect gift to amaze your friends or anger your enemies, then look no further! Order an autographed Steve & Ryan 8x10!



E-mail me here for more information: stclown@lowcountry.com

OR check out https://www.oaba.org/2013-circus-calendar/ to order a 2013 Circus Calendar, featuring a picture of yours truly along with GiGi Greene for the month of February.
Buy! Buy! Buy!
Now! Now! Now!

See you guys in a few days.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November 19-December 2

I posted this last Sunday....at least I thought I did. Today I checked my blog and saw that I hadn't. Stupid technology!
Sorry that I (apparently) went a week without updating. Here's last week's update:

I thought that things would calm down after we finished our second Circus Clowning Intensive....boy, I hate it when I am wrong!

The day after we dropped our second student, David Levine, off at the airport in Dallas, we were back to work in the Kelly Miller Circus Winter Quarters shops.
We've been in the shops every day (except Thanksgiving) working 9, 10, and even 12 hour days!
The good news is that we have made great progress! All of our wooden props are built and painted, and all but one of our foam props have been carved, latexed, and painted.
Aside from a few finishing touches in the paint department, the next major project will be sewing our costumes.

Thanksgiving was a much needed day of rest. Even though I shut off my phone so I could sleep as late as I wanted, my body still woke me up at 8 a.m. Ack!
I had lunch with Ryan and the Fusco family. They prepared a delicious meal from which I sampled everything....twice!
My belly full, I drove to the nearest movie theater to watch "Wreck It Ralph". If you haven't seen it, check it out! I enjoyed it a great deal more than I thought I would.

As soon as I finish writing this post, Ryan and I are heading to Dallas to pick up John Sayre, our third (and final) Circus Clowning Intensive student for the winter.
I'll be sure to check in next weekend and let you all know what we've been up to. Have a great week!


And now this week's:

The third Steve & Ryan Circus Clowning Intensive went off without a hitch. Our student, John Sayre, ran an Internet campaign to raise the funds to study with us.
He was telling us that in addition to his family and friends that helped out, he was contacted by complete strangers that wanted to donate money so that he could follow his dream. How cool is that?!
John worked hard throughout the grueling four day intensive, and (just like our first two students) it was exciting to see him leave as a more confidant performer, full of new information: a base of techniques upon which he can build his career.

We are done with our Circus Clowning Intensives for the year, but next year's roster is already filling up! If you are interested in learning more about the program, please e-mail me at: stclown@lowcountry.com

This weekend Ryan and I went back to work in the prop shop. Luckily we had worked so hard during the previous week and a half that we were able to take it easy.
Yesterday we worked from 9 to 5 (just like the Dolly Parton song!), and then we took the evening off to relax (something we've rarely done since the season ended).

As I was watching a movie in my trailer, I heard something land on my step, which caused my house to shift.
I didn't think too much about it until a few seconds later when it struck me that Emmie's cage is right outside my door.
I bolted off the couch and opened the door. A raccoon was inside the pen with Emmie, and when I opened the door it quickly climbed out and ran away.
Thank goodness Emmie was ok; I'm scared to think what would have happened if I had been away from home (or even if I had hesitated a few more seconds before going outside)!
It looks like from now on Emmie will go in the back of my truck when the sun goes down. I'd rather he be inconvenienced for a few hours than inside some varmint's stomach.

Just this morning Ryan and I did only a little bit of prop work. I am happy that each time we go in the shop there is less and less to do.
I was painting a prop for our upcoming Christmas tour when my pants dropped around my ankles. Certain pairs of jeans are baggy on me, even though the waist size is correct. Since I had a brush in one hand and a paint can in the other, I could not keep adjusting them as they slipped down. I guess I should just wear a belt, just like any person with common sense.
At least Ryan got a good laugh out of the situation.
There is a photo....you can all thank me that I have the good judgement not to put it up here on the blog.

Since our prop work is drawing to a close, we began working on our main gag for next year's show.
We had already written the act, but in physical comedy you never know what will work and what won't until you get up on your feet and work through it.

Sure enough, we discovered some bits that weren't possible, or simply didn't make sense. Luckily we were both in very creative moods and we came up with lots of good solutions to those problems.
I think we are going to have very funny material next year, but of course you never truly know what's good in clowning until you do it in front of an audience!

In closing, I just wanted to share a photo of this awesome coffee mug I bought on eBay:



On the front it has Tom Parish, Tammy Parish, and Frosty Little. The back features Peggy Williams, Tuba Heatherton, Lou Jacobs, Wayne Sidley, and Uncle Soapy.
A great, hard to find mug, and it was a steal at only $20!

I will see you all next weekend before we take off for our Christmas tour in Pennsylvania! Peace!