Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thursday, March 27-Sunday, March 30: Brownsville, TX

Sorry this is so late, everybody. Traveling to Austin threw off my normal schedule; I'll try and get my groove back.
Check in for another update either Thursday or Friday.

3/27/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon we had another vacuum gag rehearsal with Teo and Enrique, who is in charge of the lighting. 
We showed Enrique where we were going to be during the act, and as luck would have it, he didn't have to alter the lights too much from the trumpet gag design.

Enrique's son, who is a few years older than Nico, loves clowns and comedy; he is a big fan of ours. Apparently anything we have in the way of props, he asks his dad to buy for him. The newest item on his wish list is a vacuum!

Ryan talked with him a bit about clowning, and I demonstrated how to play emotions for a large audience while he and Ryan watched all the way from the lighting board.

We were planning to put the gag in the show tomorrow night, but the rehearsal went so well that I called Eddie, the production manager, and asked permission for us to debut it tonight!

The vacuum gag went very well in the show this evening. In fact, I can't remember the last time we did something for the first time that went flawlessly. 
Tatiana filmed the gag for us, so we were able to see what bits needed to be cleaned up.

On the subject of the vacuum gag: When we were writing the gag, the obvious ending (or blowoff) was one we had seen as kids. It was done by a clown on Ringling named Dave DeDera. 
He did the gag as a walkaround where his face would get stuck in a vacuum nozzle. When he pulled his face out, it was sucked out to a point: eyes, nose, and everything.
It was such a great visual gag, and we knew the audiences on this show would love it.

Since Dave did it first (and best, in our opinion), we wrote to him and asked his permission to use the visual. Dave was nice enough to give us his blessing, and I was happy that the surprise ending got a big laugh from the crowd.

As you can see, we included an homage to Dave in the vacuum prop.

I was dismayed at the end of the show to see that pieces of leather on one of my clown shoes had started to come off, exposing the horse hair underneath. Looks like I better order another pair of shoes from Marty Scott!
Ryan was nice enough to let me borrow an extra pair of his clown shoes in the meantime.

3/28/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today Teo and I met up for lunch at a sushi restaurant over by his hotel. The food wasn't that great, but the conversation was nice.

I was telling Teo that there was a dead spot in the vacuum gag that we wanted to get rid of. He suggested that we ask Tisok, the stage manager, to have the prop guys set the vacuum so Ryan wouldn't have to carry it from the seats into the ring. That would effectively eliminate the dead spot where Ryan had to lug the cumbersome vacuum down the stairs and then set it in the correct spot before we could start the main action of the act.
I asked Tisok for his help before the show, and the change worked like a charm in the shows. Thanks, Teo!

It was a very hot day. Ryan and I were sweating like crazy yesterday during the vacuum gag rehearsal; I'm REALLY glad we didn't have one today!

Raul Brindis, a well known radio personality, was our special guest at the shows tonight.
We had a fantastic audience for our second show. We continued to tweak the vacuum gag since we were getting a feel for what works and what isn't working with the Vazquez audiences.
One change we made was we spent more time in the audience so the trapeze net would be completely up by the time we entered the ring. Luckily we found some good bits that worked out well.

After work I joined a group from the show for a night out at a cowboy bar called Wink's Saloon.
It was a very cool place with a big dance floor, live music, and a mechanical bull. Visan told me that outside they host roping events as well.

Judging by the furnishings, the interior decorator was Gaston from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". 

I had a great time out with everybody; it's just a shame that our shows didn't finish until 11:00 p.m. By the time everyone cleaned up and drove to the bar, we only had about an hour or so before they closed.

Most people continued the party back at the lot at Visan's house; I hear it wrapped up around 8 a.m.
Unlike those nuts, I went to bed at a more respectable hour….3 a.m.

3/29/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Ryan and I had a rough night of shows. Neither of us was in the mood to entertain, and the way things were going in our acts, we felt like we just couldn't win.

Probably the most frustrating thing that happened was in the first vacuum gag. When it came time to rip off the bottom part of Ryan's jumpsuit, the fabric handle that I hold onto ripped off the suit.
It was very disheartening to lose one of the biggest laughs in the gag.

I also almost killed myself in the second water gag. As I was going through the audience I slid on my butt down one of the handrails in a stairway. 
I've done the move dozens of times before, but for some reason tonight my balance was just a little off, and about halfway through my slide I pitched backwards and headed towards the stairs headfirst. 
Luckily my cat like reflexes kicked in and I caught myself mid fall, upside down, with my head a few, precious inches from the ground….and a broken neck.
Don't think I'll be doing that bit again any time soon….

Luckily two things kept me from throwing in the towel at the end of the night. One was the thought that tomorrow is a new day.
The other was that a boy named Jacob and his mother came up to see us after one of the shows. They used to see us on Kelly Miller all the time, and they had gone there looking for us this year.
Jacob was so happy to see us, even though in our minds we had horrible shows; it made me realize that maybe things aren't always as bad as they seem.

3/30/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I spent this morning getting my cargo area ready for prop loading after the shows.

Last night Eddie and Memo told me and Ryan about a change that they wanted us to make to the ending of the vacuum gag.
Before the shows today I talked Teo through it, and then Ryan and I implemented it for the three performances. 
The new version of the ending is missing the proper play off music; we'll have to wait until Austin to give Teo the new music. 
We plan to make some changes to the middle of the vacuum gag anyway. We're happy with the beginning and ending, but the middle needs some work.
In the morning I had a few ideas for potential rewrites that piggybacked on some ideas Ryan had already pitched to me.

I started the day with a lot of energy (and much brighter spirits than I ended Saturday with), but as the day wore on I became more and more tired. 
By the third show I was exhausted. It was tough to give it my all for the responsive audiences we had today.

Today was the last day for the Azzario Sisters. I made this photo card for them that I hung on the women's dressing room curtain.

During the third finale Memo made an announcement about it being Katie and Quincy's last show, and Jan brought out a bouquet of roses for both of them. It was a really classy farewell. 
They are off to perform with another circus in Finland, and we have a new act, Trio Bellisimo, joining us in Austin. Luckily I hear we may be seeing the Azzario sisters again at the end of the season.

As I said earlier in this post, we're not quite happy with the vacuum gag yet, but tonight during tear down Memo called me over to tell me how much he liked the gag. It was a nice confidence boost to know we were on the right track.

Speaking of tear down, Ryan and I got a heck of a workout pushing our props across soft dirt and gravel from the backdoor all the way to our trailers.
Luckily we had Tatiana and Nico helping us. Nico got quite upset whenever he wasn't big enough to help with certain tasks. 
I told Ryan that hopefully Nico will be that gung ho about helping us work when he gets older.

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