Thursday, March 6, 2014

Monday, March 3-Wednesday, March 5: Donna, TX

3/3/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today was a cold, dreary day, so I did my best to stay warm in my trailer.
Obviously the water gag was not a lot of fun tonight, especially the arctic dash to Ryan's trailer to drop off our sopping wet costumes for Tatiana to dry.

Due to a lot of condensation in the tent, the ring curb and ring rubber were very wet during the performance. Luckily several people gave us a heads up prior to the show, so Ryan and I were very careful whenever we had to run on either.

Before finale I was about to go through the tent flap leading to backstage when I saw that the dancers were not too far behind me.
Let me add at this point that the dancers all have penguin onesies that they wear between numbers when it is cold.
I held open the flap for them and yelled, "Come on, penguins!"
All the girls began running towards the tent, but they waddled like penguins as they did so.
It was a very funny, surreal image.

Ryan and Tatiana had me over for dinner after the show. We also watched an episode of the BBC series "Sherlock", which I greatly enjoyed.

3/4/14- Day Off!

I had a fairly low key day off. I got a hair cut, I went to the post office, and I went to a propane supplier to fill up one of my trailer's tanks.

Mario, one of the prop guys, was nice enough to give me a ride to a party store in town. Both of us needed make up (Mario, a member of the Espana family, is a clown, even though he is not working as one right now), and Pat Davison had suggested a couple of places where we might look in McAllen.
Unfortunately the store had a very limited selection for make up, so the trip was a bust for me. Mario; however, was able to pick up a few things he needed.

Today was the birthday of Frances, who is the wife of Jesion, one of the prop guys. Jeison and Frances invited me, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico to a party at Buffalo Wild Wings tonight. A decent sized group from the circus showed up to celebrate, and we had a great time.
I talked with Frances a bit at one of the first barbecues the show had, and I found out that she had worked on Big Apple for awhile as a cook. It was neat hearing about how Big Apple ran their cookhouse, and we talked about our mutual friends that worked on the show for those tours.

3/5/14- 7:30 p.m.

My truck's brakes have needed servicing for quite awhile now, but Castro never had the time to work on them for me.
My friend, Ramon, suggested a place in Pharr, TX that would take good care of me, so I went there this morning.

While I was waiting for them to have an opening to check out my truck, Glen called to tell me that the Vazquez brothers wanted to have a meeting with us at 1:00 p.m.

Unfortunately just as the mechanics were ready to look at my truck, I had to leave so I could attend the meeting.
I was going to leave my truck at the garage and have Ryan pick me up, but he was busy at Kelly Miller visiting his mother in law, who was celebrating her birthday.

I made it back to the lot just in time for the meeting. This was my first chance to really examine the Vazquez brothers' beautiful new office building.
All of the offices have glass walls so notes and ideas can be written in dry erase marker, and then easily erased. (Which is an awesome idea)
The top floor, where our meeting was held, even has a section of the floor made of glass so you can see below to the lobby.

Our meeting took place in a room with a huge conference table and a projector for watching video of the performance on one of the solid walls.
We were brought coffee and water, and once all the brothers had arrived, we began the meeting.

Ryan and I had asked Glen to call the meeting so we could replace the trumpet gag, which is not getting the reactions we want, and is just not as strong as the water and carpenter gags. The problem with that is that it is our final spot in the show.
We have a bull gag that is ready to go, but since our final spot is covering the trapeze net set up, we cannot perform that act the way that it needs to be done. Therefore, it will not be a strong enough closer either.

We pitched a cleaning gag with brooms and a vacuum. It will be fast paced and full of slapstick and visual gags. (I know, right? Big surprise)

The brothers liked the idea a lot and gave us a green light to begin building the props we need. In the meantime, they gave us a few jokes in Spanish to beef up the trumpet gag.

The brothers were very complimentary about our work, but they want the water and carpenter gags to be faster.
They explained that their audiences want rapid fire gags and laughs that continue to build.
It's very interesting to hear their cultural take on clowning. Our style in the past year or so has been to build the laughs through pauses and subtle character moments between the more rapid fire bits.

The meeting went very well. The brothers were all able to voice their thoughts, and Ryan and I were able to express our thoughts and concerns as well. I feel like we all left with a better understanding of what everybody wants.
I wish this meeting had been held weeks ago.

After the meeting Ryan and I went shopping for supplies to build the vacuum prop, and then back at the lot Ryan began carving foam.

There was a great audience for the performance tonight. Ryan and I sped up both the water and carpenter gags, and we did get a lot of laughs.
Although we would prefer not to perform the gags at such a break neck speed, it is what the Vazquez brothers want, and they know their show and their audience.
We will continue to keep the pace up and work hard to still keep the material clear and understandable.

I was so nervous that I would forget the new jokes in Spanish for the trumpet gag, but I didn't screw up. I'm sure they'll get even more laughs once I loosen up and become more comfortable with them.

Overall all the changes to our material went well (we also changed the opening of the water gag), which was good, because my friends, the Dunn family, were in the audience.
David Dunn and his family have seen me and Ryan on the circus every year since our first season with Kelly Miller.
It has become an annual tradition that Jonathan and I take a picture together. Hard to believe that the little boy I met in 2009 is now 10!

It's an honor to be a part of people's lives, even if I only see them once a year.

In closing, here they are: Steve & Ryan, Burger King's answer to Ronald McDonald!

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