Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 20-26: Winter Quarters Odds & Ends

The clock is ticking here at the Kelly Miller Circus Winter Quarters!
The show hits the road on February 1st, and we open in Brownsville, TX on the 7th.
No pressure!

Check out the website: for tour dates.
So far I don't see any one day stands on the schedule, and that is just wonderful!

Since I've been back in Hugo, Ryan and I have been putting the finishing touches on props and costumes.
Luckily we did 98% of our work before we headed to Pennsylvania for the Christmas tour, so whenever we do have to work, it's just sewing something here or touching up paint there.

Bobby Rawls, the resident circus artist, has been around painting trucks and banners. I was mighty impressed with the new paint job on the ticket/office wagon. It's beautiful!

In addition to show stuff, Bobby also did some lettering work on a couple of our props.

Our friend, Alex Zaprudsky (the Steve & Ryan graphic designer), designed this banner for the table we will use when we sell and autograph coloring books during Intermission:

Pretty spiffy!

Ryan's brother, Pete, is going to be on tour with us this season. In addition to being "generally useful" to us, he is going to run the sound effects for our gags.

On the 23rd Ryan and I did a thirty minute performance at the Hugo Elementary School. We performed for the entire school (around 600 kids), and they were a fantastic audience.
The reason for the show was to promote the 3rd Annual Red Nose Cafe Dinner Extravaganza (try saying that three times fast), which was held on the 25th.

Folks from Hugo bought tickets to eat a buffet meal comprised of different dishes made from circus folks.
Revenue from the tickets and souvenirs on sale all went towards the construction of the Circus City Museum and Park.

In addition to the meal, there was also entertainment. Ryan and I joined a few other performers from the Hugo circuses to put on a show.
Ryan and I did our cookie gag from the Christmas tour, and I couldn't be happier with how well it went over....even though the lights did get turned off on us in the middle of the act.
Ryan and I joked that it was akin to an actor having their Oscar speech cut short by the orchestra.

Many children at the event dressed up as clowns for a costume contest; the grand prize was a new bike.
Ryan and I were dismayed when we found out that we were to be the judges. We figured that we would become the bad guys to every kid that wasn't picked.
Seeing the disappointed looks on some of the kids's faces after the competition really got to me.

You'd think years of looking into the audience while performing would get me used to disappointed faces.
Wocka Wocka!

In closing, here's a video to show you just how hard we all work at the Kelly Miller Winter Quarters:

See you next weekend!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas and New Years 2012

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Well, those of you that swing that way....

My holiday was fantastic. I had three great meals with my family, and I got some awesome gifts. I received books on "Weird Al" Yankovic and Wally Boag,

a Ringling Bros. decoupaged gourd,

a wireless speaker for my Mac/iPhone (sure to come in handy when I want to sing in the shower), and a backpack that charges electronics (which will be great during my upcoming trip to NYC).

It was indeed a very Merry Bumble Christmas.

On Friday I drove up to Hartsville, SC to visit with Jim Howle, who was a graduate of the first Clown College class back in 1968. Besides his talents in clowning, Jim is an amazing artist!
I picked Jim's brain about his years on the road with Ringling and the people he worked with.
He and his wife, Maybelle, were gracious hosts and not only treated me to dinner, but let me spend the night at their home.

On Saturday morning Jim and I had breakfast, and then I drove down to Beaufort, SC to have lunch with Conrad Hartz, who was a graduate of Bill Ballantine's first Clown College class in 1969.
Even though Conrad was only on Ringling's Blue Unit for a short time, he still had many fascinating stories.
I also enjoyed seeing the puppets and marionettes that Conrad hand made. Since Ryan and I make our own props, I could appreciate the talent and craftsmanship that went into each piece.

I am very grateful that both Jim and Conrad took the time to appease my unquenchable thirst for clown geekery.