Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 25-April 27: Fort Worth, TX


4/25/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I went to the Apple Store and ordered a new Macbook Pro laptop. The one I bought from my friend, Alex Zaprudsky, three years ago is on its last leg, so I wanted to get a new one before it dies and I lose all my data.
My new computer won't get in until we are finished in Fort Worth, so I had the shipping address changed to the Apple Store closest to the circus lot in Dallas.

After spending a lot of money on a new computer, I went to Trader Joe's and spent a lot of money on food!
I was dumb and went while I was hungry, but I picked up some great stuff. In fact, as soon as I got back to the trailer I cooked one of my purchases: flank steak in a pinwheel with cheese and spinach. Mmm mmm good!

This afternoon the cast had to film segments for the "children's show". The segments were all brief introductions of the different acts by Mexican telenovela star, David Zepeda, followed by a quick lesson on topics ranging from the importance of eating vegetables to not being afraid of the dark.

Our PR lady, Vivien, explained to me that these segments will be shown independently on television, but the ultimate goal is for Circo Vazquez to have a children's television show.

Ryan and I only had to film two short bumper segments. One was us arguing over the name of a color in English and Spanish with our point of reference being a big colored circle that will be superimposed into the footage in post production.
The other bumper was us encouraging children to get up and dance before showcasing our own awesome moves.

In the dressing room before the shows tonight, Ryan and I were joking with the other performers about which lesson they taught in their segment. We were having fun coming up with ideas about what each person would actually say on the subject.

David Zepeda was our special guest for the shows this evening, and the audiences were very responsive, even though the shows were a bit off.

The vacuum gag is getting better by leaps and bounds lately. I came up with a nice bit for us to do in the seats which makes a lot more sense than randomly going into a two man high (and Jerry Jacobson, we were going to use your idea of doing the two man high to clean something we couldn't reach, but where we are in the seats there is nothing at all that we could be trying to get to).
I'm very happy that I had two good ideas for the gag this week. That's about my quota for the season!


4/26/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Friday night after the shows I received some upsetting news, and Saturday morning brought even worse news.
Needless to say I was not the happiest clown today.

Ryan and Tatiana really went out of their way to make me feel better today, which I greatly appreciated.

The second audience tonight was fantastic, which also really helped my mood.

Russ and Marie, two clowns from the area, were in the crowd, and we got to speak to them briefly after the show. We made tentative plans to hang out with them when we get to Dallas.


4/27/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I went out this morning and had a nice little excursion before our three shows. I went to the Movie Trading Company to rent a few films, I did a little shopping at Walmart, and then I finished up with breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

The audience for the first show was really rough, but luckily the crowds became more lively as the day progressed.
All in all it wasn't a difficult day.

After the shows I went over to a birthday party being held for Enrique, the show's lighting guy. I was invited over as I was going to throw out my trash, so I changed clothes and went over to socialize for a bit.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Monday, April 21-Wednesday, April 23: Fort Worth, TX


4/21/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I picked up Helen, one of the dancers, from the hotel where she and some of the other performers are staying.
Helen is an avid reader, and I had been telling her about the wonders of Half Price Books since we arrived in Austin a few weeks ago.
Today I took her there where she could browse to her heart's content. I think Half Price Books has a new devoted fan!

After book hunting, Helen and I went to Blue Sushi & Sake, my new favorite sushi restaurant. It was just as delicious the third time!

Back at the lot I joined Jovani, one of the show electricians, as he looked at our little clown car. One of the back wheels has been looking a bit wobbly as we drive around the ring. Jovani diagnosed a simple solution: I simply needed to buy another washer to put behind the wheel to stabilize it.

Luckily, my friend, Crystal, was visiting, and she gave me a ride to Home Depot, where I picked up a washer. Unfortunately, when I got back to the tent, I discovered that the hole in the center of the washer was too small to go over the car's back axle. Good thing that adding a washer is not a life or death scenario.

I didn't have time to run back out and get another washer because we had a company meeting at 6:00 p.m. to discuss what to do in the case of bad weather such as a tornado or hurricane.
Ramon, one of the Vazquez brothers, led the meeting and told us that our first priority was to calmly evacuate the audience, and then to collect our family members and important documents before heading to the nearest shelter.
I like my plan better: running around in random configurations while screaming, crying about how I'm too young to die, and wetting myself.

Rodger, who was a clown on Ringling's Red Unit a couple of years ago, came to watch tonight's show with a friend.
Two local clowns, Toty and Andy, who once a week perform in the mall right next to the tent, were also in the crowd.
Last but certainly not least, Ryan's Grandpa and Grandma Chan, and his uncle, Kevin, who are all visiting from Massachusetts for four days, also were in attendance for the performance.

While Ryan and I were in the seats for the vacuum gag, Ryan went to take a man's baseball cap to clean and then balance it.
The man grabbed his hat and wouldn't give it up. Ryan tried, a little more forcefully, to take the hat, but the man would not loosen his grip.
Ryan decided to change tactics, so he leaned over the guy and began cleaning him. The man shoved Ryan with all his might, and Ryan was thrown into the empty row of seats behind the man.
I stood with my mouth open in shock, but when I saw that the man was laughing about it, I turned to Ryan and yelled, "Hold me back!", before attempting to unleash a kung fu attack on the assailant to avenge my fallen comrade.

After the show I joined Rodger and his friend for dinner over at Taco Cabana, where we relived our "glory days" on the Big Show.



4/22/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon I was taken to lunch by Mark Renfro and Brenda Marshall. Mark was a Ringling Clown College Graduate and road clown, and went on to build props for the show and teach make up at Clown College in its later years. Brenda is a well known local clown who I actually met my first year on Ringling when her clown alley invited ours out for a free roll lunch.

Mark and Brenda took me to a restaurant downtown that promised "legendary Texas cuisine". The portions we received proved the old adage "everything is bigger in Texas".
We had a great meal, and an even better time visiting.
Mark and Brenda, knowing my affinity for the printed page, also took me to a Half Price Books about halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas.
I found a great book on the theory and practice of physical comedy. It looks like it will be a terribly dry read, but it was an amazing find for only $3.

Back at the lot I touched up the paint on our vacuum prop, and then I worked on the applique for my post show costume party make up.
Today was the birthday of Mario, one of the stage crew, and he and his girlfriend were hosting a superhero/super villain themed costume party in the tent after the show.
I decided to go as the Batman villain, Two Face, so the applique I made (out of toilet paper and liquid latex built onto a latex glove) was of the open mouthed snarl that he has on the disfigured side of his face.


Mark and Brenda came to see our show tonight, and Ryan's grandparents and uncle also watched the performance again (gluttons for punishment). They were joined by Ryan's uncle, Mike, who lives in Dallas.

Ryan wasn't happy with the applique I made for my Two Face make up (and honestly, neither was I), so after the show he did my make up for me. He did the whole thing in less than an hour, and it turned out way better than it would have if I did it all alone.


The make up was a big hit, and it was fun to see all the fun costumes that people came up with for the party.

Nicolai as a crazy Russian and Martin as Stacee Jaxx from "Rock of Ages"
 Frances as Black Widow and Jeison as Goldmember
 Mike as Iron Patriot
 Tisok with his cunning disguise
 Eddie as Zorro
 Visan as the Invisible Man
 Birthday boy, Mario, with his Super Pinata and his girlfriend, Vivien
 The Dancers: Laura, Claire, Helen, Georgie, and Emma as The Spice Girls
 Marcos as Joker
 Trio Bellissimo: Ana as Rafael, Dustin as Flash, Elena as Spider Girl, Dustin and Anya's son as Spider Man, and Anya as Mario
Teo as Megamind 
 Superhero Beer Pong
Super Mario's Kryptonite: Cake

The party was a lot of fun, but I cut out "early" at 12:30 a.m. in anticipation of my early morning television publicity.


4/23/14- 7:30 p.m.

I was up at 5:15 a.m. and in make up and costume in the tent at 6:00 a.m. for our television publicity. Alexa Vazquez and the dancers were the other performers lucky enough to share in the fun.
Ryan and I didn't care for the reporter or camera man that we were working with. They were very unprofessional; they didn't introduce themselves and barely looked our way the entire hour we were with them. They were also very rude. For instance, instead of telling us, "We'll be live in five seconds", the cameraman snapped at the dancers to get their attention like they were dogs, and the reporter called me a "crappy clown" in Spanish when I didn't understand her rapid fire Spanish directions to me.
Ah, showbiz. 

Luckily Ryan and I were able to joke around with the dancers between hits to keep ourselves amused. 

Claire and I showing our true ambitions

After the PR I joined Ryan and his family: Tatiana, Nico, Grandpa and Grandma Chan, Uncle Kevin, and Uncle Mike for breakfast.

We then headed over to Magic, Etc, a big costume and magic shop. One of the men working behind the magic counter found out that Tatiana was from Argentina, and after Ryan talked with him for a bit, he discovered that the gentleman had worked with Tatiana's father on a television program many years ago. Small world, huh!?

At the costume shop Ryan and Tatiana bought Nico a little pair of clown shoes, which Nico immediately fell in love with.

There's no hope for the poor kid now. He's in too deep.

Next on our tour of Fort Worth, we all went to Central Market, a huge supermarket with an amazing selection of fresh food and produce. I definitely need to visit again when I'm in a shopping mindset.

Next we all moseyed on over to the Stockyards, where we had a delicious lunch at a steakhouse. I was able to try two new foods that we all shared as appetizers: calf fries (fried testicles with gravy on the side) and escargot (snails). Yum yum! 
I enjoyed both appetizers, but my favorite item was my entree, a bison sirloin. 

My stomach stuffed with testicles and snails, I was content to then stroll around the stockyards with Ryan's family. Walking along the Main Street is almost like going through a time warp into the Wild West. Cowboys on horses were prevalent, and there was even the occasional longhorn ready for a photo opportunity. 
I was going to get a shot on top of a longhorn, but just as I mustered up the courage, it was time for the steer's smoke break. 
Maybe next time!

Tonight while Ryan and I were cleaning the water mat, I thought of a stupid bit to try in the vacuum gag.
I tried it out, and wouldn't you know, it got a great reaction! Hooray for thinking outside the box!

After the show I had dinner with Chagy, a clown from Puerto Rico, and his wife, Audria. Chagy is constantly traveling around the world to perform as a clown.
I had a good time hearing Chagy's stories about the early years of Advance Studies, a clown training program founded by "Frosty" Little and "Coco" Polakovs, which he was fortunate enough to attend.


4/24/14

After running around so much this past week, I decided to take it easy today and catch up on my movies and video games.
I also took a break from relaxing to run a few errands. It was nice to take a lazy day.

Chagy, Audria, and Audria's father came to watch the show tonight. Ryan's family also watched the show again with Ryan's cousin, Steven, who lives in the area. 

Chagy

After the show I joined Ryan's family for dinner at Ryan's house. Tatiana made some delicious empanadas, and we all had a good time visiting.

On a side note, Mario (who had the superhero birthday party on Tuesday), proposed to his girlfriend, Vivien, after the show.
Vivien was brought into the darkened tent, and then Mario, illuminated by a spotlight, came out of the curtain and sang the chorus to the current song, "All Of Me", before proposing. She said yes! And there was a glitter drop! Pure, romantic, circus magic!
Congratulations to the happy couple! You should name the first two kids Steve and Ryan!

In closing, here are some fantastic shots that Ryan's cousin, Steven, took of the show!





















Friday, April 25, 2014

Delay

Hey everyone,

Please be patient with me. I'm currently writing the update for April 21st-23rd, and it is being a royal pain.
There's a lot to talk about, and a lot of pictures to share, and I'm finding that posts like that typically take about two hours to post from the first word to the final read through and edit.
Right now I am just not feeling it, and I don't want to force the post and have the content suffer.
Just know that it's coming, and you should find it marginally amusing.

Steve

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Friday, April 18-Sunday, April 20: Fort Worth, TX


4/18/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I walked over to the tent so I could map out a route for our props. Our trailers are parked in a different area of the mall parking lot than the tent, and we have to cross a traffic intersection inside the parking lot to get to the tent. Other than that, we are on cement, so it was fairly easy to push all our props to backstage.

Ryan is reading a new book on animation by Joe Murray, who created one of my favorite cartoons from my youth called "Rocko's Modern Life".
The book taught Ryan about an animation bible, which is something a show creator will keep to have character descriptions, design sketches, and artistic goals all in once place.
Ryan felt everything about the animation bible was applicable towards our career, so we met this afternoon to make the Steve & Ryan bible, which is something we can go to whenever we are creating new material or planning the next step in our career.

Ryan and I make so many trips to the tent on opening day to get our props and costumes backstage that invariably we forget something.
Tonight I forgot to bring my mirror over, so I took a big jagged shard from one of the broken dressing room mirrors and used that as to put on my make up. Functional and deadly!

The second audience tonight was fantastic, arguably the best we've had since we started the season.

During the second water gag, I felt my right contact pop out of my eye in the middle of the act. I could feel it clinging to my cheek, but I was sure that it would fall off at the end of the act when Ryan and I get hit with buckets of water.
Surprisingly, when I got back to the dressing room, the contact was still stuck to my cheek, so I peeled it off and popped it back in my eye. Mmmmmm, unhygienic!

After the show I joined a group from the show heading to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar in downtown Fort Worth.
I jumped in a cab with the dancers; they were nice enough to not only share a cab with me, but also to give me one of the six free passes they had received the last time they visited Pete's.

It was my first time at a dueling piano bar, and it was very neat. We all got great seats at tables front and center, right in front of the two pianos.
The guys playing were very talented and knew almost every song under the sun. It was a good time.

Jorge and Natalya Pompeyo were nice enough to give me a ride back to the lot when the bar was closed.


4/19/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I went out shopping to purchase everything to make Nico's Easter basket.
Later in the day Ryan and I ran out to purchase a sewing machine. Our old machine crapped out on us while Ryan and Tatiana were making the rip away jumpsuit for the vacuum gag, and every time something on that costume ripped, and they have to repair it by hand, Ryan kept reminding us, "We need a new machine."
Today we finally took the initiative to pick one up, so logically it follows that there will be no further repairs needed now that we are prepared for them!

When I walked over to the tent for the first show tonight, I was excited to see people lined up around the perimeter fences waiting to get in.

That's always a good way to get you pumped for an evening of shows!

In the second water gag's finale I decided to slide across the mat on my stomach as Ryan was chasing me. Something about the way I threw my arms as I slid pulled the muscles in both my biceps, and I was in pain for the rest of the evening.
I was especially in agony in the vacuum gag when I fell on my face and then had to push myself up off the ground. Ryan got a kick out of my agonized screams....jerk!

After the shows I got cleaned up and went over to Ryan's house for the traditional coloring of Easter eggs and....eating of empanadas. 
I was happy I got to participate in dyeing the eggs; I haven't done that since I was a little kid.



4/20/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Miraculously my biceps didn't hurt when I woke up this morning. I had stocked up on Mexican ibuprofen from Ryan and Tatiana in the likely event that they would be killing me, but I didn't have to take any of them. 

After making my morning cup of coffee, I headed over to Ryan's house to watch Nico find his Easter eggs hidden around the house.
After he found them all, I gave Nico his Easter basket, and the Combs family gave me one too; it was filled to the brim with Cadbury eggs. What can I say, they know me well!

While Nico opened his eggs (don't worry, they were plastic), Tatiana made us breakfast, and we watched "The Easter Bunny Is Coming To Town", which I had not seen since I was a child not much older than Nico.
It was a really nice start to our Easter/three show Sunday.

The first show was rough, which I expected at 2:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday. Luckily, the 5:00 p.m. show had a great audience.

Between shows it started pouring down rain. Ryan, David, and I all wanted to go back to our trailers, but none of us had the forethought to bring umbrellas with us to work.
Figuring that none of us was sweet enough to melt in the precipitation (and since I haven't multiplied like a Gremlin in well over a year), we decided to just make a run for it instead of waiting for the storm to die down.

At the end of the third performance a woman came down onto the floor to see Ryan, who was very excited to see her. I knew she looked familiar, but I couldn't place her at first.
When she came over to see me, I finally recognized her as Jasmine, who was one of the production women who worked with us on Ringling 10 years ago. I felt bad for not recognizing her at first, but she was one of the last people I'd expect to see at a show in Fort Worth.

Ryan and I couldn't clean our water mat backstage during the last show because the rain had come in and soaked the pavement.
We waited for the stage crew to clean and roll up the carpet, and then we were able to clean our mat in the ring.

When I got back to my trailer I was starving, so I threw a pizza in the oven. I was going to shower, but I knew as soon as I got in that one of the concessions guys would come by to give me our cut of the photo concession. I also needed to work on an invoice for Ryan to give to Jorge for the dog stands he painted during the days off.
Since I had all that going on, I decided to wait and shower afterwards. So it came to be that an hour after the show had concluded I was sitting in my trailer still in my make up, wearing my t-shirt and pink clown boxers.
I was laughing about the scenario, thinking, "So this is what my life has come to". 
That's when the crying jag started.....

In closing, here's a couple of photos!

Nico celebrating "World Circus Day"

With one of our fans, Jesus, and his family in Austin 

And finally, the moment most of you probably couldn't care less about!
The winner of the caption the photo contest from last week's blog!

As a reminder, here was the photo: 


And the winner, selected by an impartial judge (so please, no hate mail if you didn't win).....

Cameron! His caption was: "The guy who stole my pants was about this tall."

Congratulations, Cameron! Please e-mail me your mailing address to stclown@lowcountry.com

Your prize: a 2014 Circo Hermanos Vazquez poster signed by the entire cast!

Thank you to everyone who participated, and keep checking in. More contests with even cooler prizes will be coming!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Monday, April 14-Thursday, April 17: Fort Worth, TX


4/14- Travel Day

This morning I went by Kick Butt Coffee for one last visit before we hit the road to Fort Worth. I'm really going to miss that place, and their delicious Peruvian blend coffee.
While I was enjoying my coffee and free Wifi, it began to storm outside. The rain was coming down in buckets, so I waited for awhile before braving the elements and returning to my trailer.

When I got back to the lot, I discovered that the drain closest to the trailers was covered up by all the leaves that had fallen over the past two weeks. This kept the rapidly collecting rain water from draining, so there was ankle deep, standing water surrounding our houses.
My socks and shoes were thoroughly soaked by the time I got inside. Good thing I have a spare pair of shoes besides my clown ones.

Our route sheet said that everyone must leave the lot by 11 a.m., but after the last travel day, Ryan and I realized that what was written on the sheet is not necessarily the law.
People started leaving a few hours after 11, but I was stuck behind the trailer of someone taking down the tent.
Since I was going nowhere fast until they moved their house, I pulled out my generator, powered up, and relaxed while watching a movie.

The trailer in front of me finally moved out of the way, so I was able to hook up my truck. Ryan had been ready to go for a few hours.
We finally hit the road around 5:00 p.m. and began the 180 mile jump to Fort Worth.

The first thirty miles of the drive were extremely stressful. The wind was blowing with all its might, and between that and the semi trucks flying past me, my trailer was moving so much that I felt like I was driving on ice.
Once we got farther away from Austin, the wind died down. I slowed down a bit (not that I was speeding; I simply dropped down to 50 instead of 55), and I also loosened up a bit, which helped whenever the semis flew by. And fly by they did, even when we were driving through construction areas with concrete walls on either shoulder. Yeesh!

We made it to the lot in Fort Worth, La Gran Plaza Mall, around 9:30 p.m. and relaxed for the evening.


4/15/14- Day Off!

This morning I walked around the mall and generally familiarized myself with the surrounding area. The mall is definitely catered to Latin Americans, so I should be able to enjoy some great food while we're here. Also, I won't be lacking for a dress when my QuinceaƱera comes along.

My friend, Crystal, came to pick me up and take me to lunch this afternoon. Crystal works as a vet tech in the DFW area, and whenever circuses come around, she is always excited to help with the animals any way she can.
Being I am 90% a circus animal, she found some time in her busy schedule to hang out with me.

She took me to a sushi restaurant downtown that had amazing sushi rolls. While we were dining, Ryan called to let me know that he was being parked.
When we were finished eating, Crystal took me back to the lot so I could park my trailer as well. Once that was accomplished, I had nothing tying me to the lot until opening night on Friday. Whoo hoo! Sweet, sweet freedom!

Crystal was nice enough to patiently wait while I parked my rig, and then she took me to the Ol' South Pancake House for dessert.
We both split one of their world famous German pancakes, which had the consistency of a crepe and was filled with heart clogging goodness: whipped butter, powdered sugar, and squeezed lemons. Mmm mmm!

Before kicking me to the curb, Crystal took me to Apple Store, where I decided on which new laptop I'm going to purchase. Mine is on its last leg.
I decided on a basic Macbook Pro, but I am going to wait for another paycheck or two so my purchase doesn't completely obliterate my rainy day fund.

A big group of people from the show were going to watch a Rangers baseball game tonight, but I found out just as they were leaving, and I wasn't feeling spontaneous enough to drop everything and join them.

Ryan and I had planned to see the horror movie, "Oculus", tonight at the Latino Cinema in the mall, but the girl behind the counter informed us that the film wasn't working.
The most likely answer is that the theater is haunted by the evil mirror featured in the movie.


4/16/14- Day Off!

This morning I went to the laundromat conveniently located on the other side of the mall, and then I met up with my friend, Abra, and her baby, Levi.
Abra is the daughter in law of Gary "Patches" Ray, who was a graduate of the 1972 class of Ringling's Clown College; he worked the shrine tours for many years with his partner Steve "Checkers" Baker.

I took Abra and Levi to the same sushi restaurant that Crystal introduced me to yesterday. It was just as amazing today as it was yesterday!

Back at the lot I joined Ryan for a painting party. He was painting props for Jorge Pompeyo, who performs the dog act in the show.



All the advice Ryan culled from Bobby Rawls, who paints trucks for Kelly Miller, definitely paid off!

Since the weather was nice and Ryan had all our painting supplies out, I pulled out the sawhorses from the carpenter gag, which have needed a touch up for a long time.

While we were working, our friend, Kyle Clay, swung by for a quick visit. Kyle is a firefighter and clown in the area, and we should see a good amount of him while we're in town since he doesn't work too far from the lot.

Ryan and Tatiana were craving sushi for dinner, so I joined them and Nico for an evening out.
And yes, sushi twice in one day is JUST as awesome as it sounds!
We didn't go to the same place I had gone before, but the new place was very good, even though it was a lot smaller.

Ryan and I were going to try and catch the 10:30 p.m. showing of Oculus, but we didn't get back to the lot until the movie was starting.
I remembered seeing a listing for an 11:20 p.m. showing, so Ryan and I decided to just wait a bit and catch that one.

When we arrived at the theater the girl behind the counter informed us that the movie was actually at 11:00 p.m. (the error was on my memory's part), but no one had gone to that showing, so they hadn't started it.

Ryan and I had the whole theater to ourselves, which prompted our own running Mystery Science Theater 3000 style commentary. Well, when we weren't making out of course.

I really enjoyed the movie. It was scary, but it didn't strictly rely on "jump scares"; there were a lot of moments of suspense and straight up creepiness.


4/17/14

This morning I visited a Half Price Books. Don't look so surprised.
I made quite a haul; I even found a pristine copy of Three Stooges straight man, Moe Howard's, autobiography for $5!

I had lunch with the Combs family, and then we visited another Half Price Books that was across the road from the restaurant.
I was surprised to find yet another copy of Moe's book for $5! I let Ryan get that one; I found a Laurel & Hardy book for myself that I had never seen before.

Next we visited a Movie Trading Company, which is a great used DVD chain in the DFW area. I found out today that you can rent any movie in their stores, which is amazing because
a) We are in the DFW area for 5 weeks, and
2) They have a lot of hard to find films that aren't available on Netflix.

I am a happy nerd.

This evening Teo brought over a cake that he had picked up at a Czech bakery on the way to Fort Worth.
Tatiana had made dinner, so we all ate at Ryan's house and then enjoyed the delicious chocolate cake. Thanks for sharing, Teo!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday, April 11-Sunday, April 13: Austin, TX


4/11/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today I visited the fifth and final Half Price Books in the Austin area. Sadly it was my least favorite of the locations I've been to lately. Either it's because I have way too many books and there are no more surprises in store for me, or maybe it's because there is too much of a good thing. The horror!

The first show this evening had (what we first thought to be) a rough crowd. They just didn't seem to be digging our gags, but then in finale we got a huge cheer. Maybe they were just happy they wouldn't have to see us anymore!

The audience for the second show was much more responsive. At the beginning of the water gag, while we were doing shtick in the audience, Ryan had a teenage girl from the audience up on her feet dancing with him, which was getting a lot of cheers from the crowd.
Since there was no way I could compete for attention, I went over and included myself in the bit. I broke up the dancing, and then when I went to apologize to the girl, she grabbed my hands and started dancing with me.

The girl was such a good volunteer that we used her participation again at the beginning of the vacuum gag. When the lights came up on me and Ryan in the seats, we both had joined hands with the girl, and the three of us were dancing around in a circle.
Memo yelled out, "Hey! Hey! Hey!" to break up the party and tell us to get to work cleaning the circus. It worked out really well.

We added a two man high (where I stand on Ryan's shoulders) to the first part of the vacuum gag where we are in the seats. It gets a nice reaction from the crowd; now we just need to think of a good reason to go into it.


4/12/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I had a pretty low key day. I needed to rest after running around Austin for the past two weeks.

Both audiences tonight were great, especially the second crowd.
During finale I was watching a big, black beetle that had wandered into the ring and was traveling across the carpet while the dancers did their chereography and the acts ran in to take their styles.
The beetle made it across without being stepped on, but all I could think of was what was going through its mind as it took in all the lights, color, and sound.


4/13/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I had a late breakfast with Rik Gern before the first show. He loaded me up with swag to share with Ryan: two Bonzo Crunch (his clown character) shirts, and two decks of trading cards featuring the 1993 Red Unit Ringling Clown Alley, which he was a part of. Score!

Thanks, Rik!

On the way back to my trailer I ran into Kelly Van Cleave and her parents, who were dropping off bags of homemade cookies for me and Ryan. Double score!
Thank you, Van Cleave family!

There's no way around it. Sunday afternoon audiences are a tough nut to crack. The first crowd was especially sleepy and stoic. I tried attacking the gags with energy to get something out of the people....it didn't work so much.

Klaus, who trains and occasionally presents the horse act, has been sneaking up on me in the dressing room and scaring the heck out of me by yelling, "Boo!" into my ear.
He's been doing it for several days now, and he always does it around the same time, so you'd think I'd have learned by now to be ready for it. But no, I just keep forgetting.
I'm like a lab rat that keeps running into the same wall instead of going around to get to the cheese.

It was so humid and sticky backstage for the last show that Ryan and I felt thoroughly disgusting by the end of it. I just wanted to go home and burn all my costumes.
Luckily the last audience was very responsive and gave us a lot of energy for our troubles.

Getting our props back to our trailers was a lot easier than it was in Brownsville. I loaded most stuff in the back of my truck and drove it over.

I was going to go out to dinner to celebrate the end of a successful engagement in Austin, but after getting cleaned up I was so tired that I just decided to stay in and get some rest.

In closing, here's a great shot that "Pepe" Vazquez took of us deep in a pow wow with Glen Nicolodi while the show was in Donna.


What do you think we're talking about? Make up your own caption for the photo and post it in the comments section. Best caption wins a prize!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Monday, April 7-Thursday, April 10: Austin, TX


4/7/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went to do laundry with Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico. They have their own washer/dryer combo in their trailer, but they needed to wash blankets, so a larger machine was needed.

Afterwards I took a little trip to south Austin where I found a great shopping center. I had lunch at Torchy's Tacos, where I tried a breakfast taco and a dinner taco. I thought the breakfast taco was much more delicious.
I then walked over to Half Price Books (three Austin locations down, one to go!), and then finished up with ice cream at Amy's.

Ryan and I had a television PR this afternoon, but it was done in just a matter of minutes. The reporter came all by herself, so she had Vivien, our PR lady, film the segments.
We just taped a few quick hits with the reporter talking while Ryan and I stood beside her mugging.
We then filmed a couple of action segments utilizing a piece of aerial apparatus hanging in the ring and one of our big foam sledgehammers. Instant comedy!

A few minutes before the show started this evening the rain began pouring down in buckets. The sound was deafening in the big top.
A few seconds later, we started seeing the big black curtain separating backstage from the portal area whipping around from the wind.
Everyone started to get freaked out, but we really didn't know what to do. We got out of the dressing room and saw that everyone was huddled in the middle of backstage, as far as they could get from any poles.
The wind was coming in through the sidewalls, which were jumping and flapping quite a bit. Some of the crew ran over and held the flaps shut to keep the wind out.

After about 5 minutes the whole situation was over. I heard that things were a little more frightening in the concessions area. Some of the doors slammed open and let in the wind, which promptly made the sidewall and some of the poles jump and dance. I guess it freaked some of the audience out.

During the whole ordeal, Eddie, our production manager, was over the microphone talking to the audience, and once the wind died down, he announced that we would then begin the performance.
Even though the wind had stopped, the rain continued to come down for several minutes more. It was raining so hard that water was running over the little cement border that had been put around the tent's perimeter and into backstage.

The only other remnant of the storm was a substantial leak in the tent that was pouring down right into one corner of the ring.
I noted that Ryan and I would have to drive right under that spot with the little car in the carpenter gag, so Ryan brought out his umbrella and opened it as we approached the little waterfall.

After the show I met with Kelly Van Cleave. Kelly was a clown on Ringling in the late 1980's, and since then she has performed all over; most recently with Circus Kinoshita in Japan.
Kelly took me to the Alamo Drafthouse, which is a movie/dinner theater. All the seats are in sets of two, and there are little tables attached to the front of the chairs.
Waiters come by before the film starts and take your order, and then bring your food out during the movie.
To avoid talking while the feature presentation is playing, there are notecards and pens at your seats that allow you to write down any more orders or requests.

Kelly and I watched "The Grand Budapest Hotel". The films of Wes Anderson are hit or miss with me, but I really enjoyed this one. There were a lot of fun cameos, and as usual, his films are very interestingly shot.


4/8/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I caught a train to downtown. I had lunch at the Iron Works, which I saw was rated as one of the top 10 BBQ restaurants in Austin. The food was good, but I didn't think it was any better than a restaurant Ryan and I used to frequent in Paris, TX.

After lunch I walked to South Congress St. to look through all the neat shops. I visited a costume shop, an antique store, and the Big Top Candy Shop, which is a normal candy store with circus and sideshow posters all over the walls.
It was neat, but I was hoping they'd have bumper stickers with the shop's name on them; alas, they only had t-shirts.

Kelly Van Cleave came to see the show tonight with her family. They brought us a BBQ free roll from Smokey Mo's. The meat was delicious! I thought it was way better than what I had at the Iron Works for lunch.
Thank you, Van Cleave family!

After the show a couple of the circus kids, including Aldo Vazquez's son, Franco, were doing their version of the vacuum gag using a popcorn bucket as the vacuum's nozzle, and a paper cotton candy cone as Ryan's elongated face.
It was very funny; I think the kids did it better than we do.


4/9/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I hit up yet another Half Price Books. Now I only have one more loaction to visit in the Austin area. Hooray for being a completist!

This afternoon Ryan and I had a radio publicity. On my way over to the tent a lady in a car stopped me to ask about ticket prices.
I pointed out the ticket truck and told her that the nice people working there would be able to answer her questions better than I could.
She went on to ask me what all we had in the show, so I gave her a quick run down of some of the highlights. I finished up by saying, "Well, I hope you ladies make it to the show."
The woman pointed to her friend and said, "I don't know; she doesn't like clowns."
I replied with, "Neither do I."
I then pointed to our picture on the ticket truck and continued, "Especially those two. They're jerks."

As I was saying, Ryan and I had a radio publicity from 3-5 p.m. with the dancers. Luckily we didn't have to get into make up for the event.
We did several radio hits, and we also filmed some videos for the station's FB page.


During our downtime Ryan and I played Hangman with the dancers, and we also taught them slapstick.

video
Excellent! More additions to our unholy army of low comedy.

Rik Gern came to visit and watch the show this evening. Rik had us over to his house last week for dinner, so tonight after the show we returned the favor.
Tatiana made a delicious meal for us to enjoy while we talked shop.


4/10/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I drove to a downtown coffee shop called Cenote to visit with Caitlin Reilly. Caitlin, and her husband, Ben Schave, are former Ringling clowns that perform locally.
Ben was crazy busy with an upcoming festival that he is doing tech work for, so he wasn't able to make it for our visit.
Caitlin and I had a nice time catching up; I hadn't seen her since she and Ben took me and another clown out for dinner seven years ago when I was in town with Ringling.

For lunch I went to Tyson's Tacos, which is only a mile or so from the lot. I sampled two of their breakfast tacos; so far Torchy's is the superior taco shop that I've visited.

Kelly Van Cleave came by this evening to visit with us, which was nice.
Right before I was heading backstage to get ready, the power to our trailers shut off. When I got backstage I found that power was also off there. At least there was electricity inside the tent.

Since there were no lights in our dressing rooms, I joined the dancers outside to put my make up on. By the time I was putting on my lip, the power was returned to backstage. I just stayed where I was since I was nearly done.

Today was Martin Espana's birthday (Martin and his family perform on the Russian Swing). He always asks to borrow my mirror before the show so he can apply his makeup, so I got him his own mirror as a gift.

It was a pain in the butt cleaning the water mat outside during the show tonight. The wind was blowing so strongly that we couldn't get it to stay flat.

After the show Kelly took me to eat at the Magnolia Cafe, an Austin institution that is open around the clock.
I've really enjoyed all the wonderful food in Austin. I was telling Kelly that so far it is my favorite stop on the tour due to that fact, as well as all my friends in the area.

In closing, here are a few photos!

Carmelo
The concessions area
Franco Vazquez, our biggest fan
Memo Vazquez and the reporter from our television PR last week

And finally, some excellent photos from Dominik, the husband of Claudie, our foot juggler: