Monday, June 29, 2015
6/26/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
I woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for a television publicity. Ryan, Jose Alberto, Alexa, Pompeyo, two of his dogs, and I went to the local NBC station to film an interview for the morning news broadcast.
We couldn't believe our ears when the first thing out of the reporter's mouth was, "Now, you may have noticed that there are two big tops in Denver right now. Cirque Du Soliel, and this one, the Vazquez Brothers Circus."
One thing we learned in media training on Ringling was NEVER mention another circus by name. Always push the name of your circus.
We were upset that not only did she plug Cirque Du Soliel during our news segment, she mentioned them before us!
Back at the lot I caught a few more hours of sleep, and then I went over to Ryan's house to visit with our clown friend from "Kurios", Facundo.
Tatiana made lunch for us, and we also played several games of Mah Jong.
Ken Manosh, who was a floor crew member when Ryan and I were on Ringling, came to watch the first show tonight with his family.
It was quite a nice surprise to see Ken; it's been ten years or so since I last saw him.
Ryan and I had an embarrassing moment during the first vacuum gag. When I pulled the vacuum nozzle off Ryan's face to reveal his elongated features, the piece of wood that Ryan bites onto to keep the mask in place broke!
All of a sudden the mask dropped to the ground and Ryan spit a jagged chunk of wood out of his mouth.
There was absolutely nothing to do since the gag was over and the ending was ruined, so we beat a hasty retreat.
We weren't exactly sure how we were going to fix the problem, but Martin found a piece of wood that was long enough to support the weight of the face and still have room left for Ryan to bite onto.
We spent the entire between show break fixing the mask, so hopefully it won't give us any more trouble in the future.
We were frustrated with the second audience. The first show had a small crowd, but they had lots of energy.
There were considerably more people at the second performance, but they gave us nothing.
I'm not going to miss doing the shows in Denver.
6/27/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
This morning Emma and I went to the Hammond Candy factory to get a free tour of the facility.
The tours are given every thirty minutes, and it consisted of a video history of the company, and then we got to see where the candy was made. We were able to see employees making ribbon candy and candy canes, which is a very interesting process.
At the conclusion of the tour everyone was given a free lollipop, and then we were ushered into the gift shop, where I purchased many different chocolate bars.
They had so many great flavors, like Red Velvet, S'mores, and Pigs & Taters (bacon bits and potato chips in the chocolate).
After the factory tour Emma and I headed downtown where we had lunch at Central Bistro & Bar. I had an unusual but delicious meal: Chicken fried brie and waffles. The waffles came with the fried cheese on top, along with blackberries and blackberry syrup.
After lunch we grabbed dessert at Little Man Ice Cream. The line was ridiculous, but there was an Express station set up with the most popular flavors, so we were able to get what we wanted without waiting forever.
We had fantastic audiences for the shows tonight. If the crowds responded like that the whole time we were here, Denver would hands down be my favorite stop on the tour so far.
After work I joined Emma, Viśan, Laura, Eddie, and Lilly for dinner and a drink at Will Call, a neat bar not too far from the lot.
I had an arepa, which is a Colombian dish consisting of a corn flatbread stuffed with different ingredients. Mine had chicken, black bean paste, and plantains.
As I'm sure you can all tell by now, I absolutely love the food scene in Denver!
Sunday, June 28, 2015
6/24/15- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I had breakfast with Aaron Schettler. Aaron is a Clown College graduate, and he toured with Ringling’s Red Unit in the mid 90’s.
We ate at the Denver Biscuit Company, which had amazing food; all of the items on the menu revolved around biscuits.
My biscuit sandwich had an egg, fried chicken, honey, mustard, and pickles. It was delicious!
Ryan and I will be building props for the Pompeyo Family dog act for Vazquez’s 2016 season, so today we went to buy paint and foam coating.
To buy the foam coating we visited a Reynolds Advanced Materials, the same retailer I visited in Dallas.
It was neat to walk around the shop and check out the displays containing examples of props and masks that could be made with the different products.
We were going to go out to eat, but it was getting close to showtime, I didn’t feel like trying to find parking to dine at any of the nearby restaurants, and the sky was full of ominous looking clouds.
We simply decided to cook a pizza and visit at the lot. Just as we were sitting down to eat Ryan called and said that people were leaving the lot due to a tornado warning in the area.
I went outside to see what was going on, and Sandra, our general manager, was telling everyone to get over to the Denver Coliseum for safety.
I couldn’t believe the drastic change the weather had taken since the early afternoon. Rain was coming down in buckets, and many parts of the lot were flooded. The temperature had dropped considerably, and the wind had really picked up.
All of us from the circus drove over to the Coliseum and parked our trucks under the Interstate overpass; we then went into the office area of the arena to wait out the storm.
Several of us were in a board room watching the weather report on a large, flat screen television.
There was a shot of downtown, and prominently featured in the shot was the Cirque Du Soliel tent. Ryan yelled out, “Man, they get all the best publicity!”
After about ten minutes of hiding in the Coliseum the storm passed and we were able to go back to the lot.
We had a small audience for the show tonight, but they had loads of energy. The cooler temperature and the buzz from the crowd gave me a lot of energy as well.
Yesterday my nose was ripped apart thanks to a combination of sunburn and surgical cement. I knew that if I just kept coating my nose in the adhesive that the skin would never heal.
Therefore I came up with the brilliant solution of bandaging my nose before applying the glue.
Unfortunately I bandaged too much of my nose, so there was not enough skin in contact with the cement. After the water gag my nose was hanging on by a thread.
There is only one act between the water and carpenter gags, so I didn’t have enough time to apply new bandages and glue on a dry nose.
I simply ran back to my trailer, painted on a red nose, and then used that until Intermission, when I had plenty of time to solve the problem.
6/25/15- 7:30 p.m.
Early this afternoon Ryan and I went to Eagle Rock Supply to pick up styrofoam to carve for the Pompeyo dog props.
Back at the lot my juggler friend, Reid Belstock, came to visit with his performing partner, Warren Hammond.
Ryan, Reid, Warren, and I had a juggling jam in the park right next to the lot. We tried all kinds of different club passing formations, and we had a lot of fun. I can’t remember the last time I tried such intricate multi person passes.
Tonight after the show Emma and I made a run to Voodoo Doughnuts. I was able to find a parking spot right across the street from the shop, which was excellent luck.
I got these delicious doughnuts:
A voodoo doll, a maple bacon bar, and an "Old Dirty B***ard"
Thursday, June 25, 2015
6/22/15- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I went to do laundry. I should have known I was in for some trouble when I saw that 70% of the washers were out of order.
I loaded my clothes into two working machines, but when I started them up, one of them didn't have any water.
I waited a minute to see if the water would start flowing, but my clothes just began tumbling dry, except for the detergent I poured into the top.
Unfortunately it was a front loading washer, which meant that the door locked as soon as I put the last quarter in. What made things even more frustrating was that there was no attendant on duty.
I started calling the laundromat in case there was someone in the office that I couldn't see, but a few minutes later the owner came strolling in.
I alerted him of the problem, and instead of just shutting off the machine so I could swap my clothes over, he stood in front of the washer for a good five minutes and just stared at the window, as if his gaze would will the machine to start working properly.
Finally he realized that he now had 71% of his washers that were out of order, so he cut the power to that machine and gave me quarters to properly wash my clothes.
Luckily there were no further problems.
While I was drying my clothes I walked around to find lunch. After eating I stopped by a business that caught my eye: a doughnut shop called the Fractured Prune.
It was a create your own doughnut shop; the doughnuts are made fresh when you order, and then you choose your glaze and topping.
In addition, they have a menu of popular creations to choose from.
In the afternoon there was a Circo Hermanos Vazquez vs. Cirque Du Soliel soccer game at the park right next to our lot.
I'm happy to say that our circus won 5-1, although it isn't too surprising considering our Latin American roots.
It's a good thing we weren't playing Cirque in an ice hockey game.
Another big group of crew members and performers came to see us from Kurios this evening.
After work we had a fantastic barbecue for our two shows. Cirque even brought over their chef, who was cooking lamb! It's nice to see how the other half lives.
I had such a nice time talking to everyone; I'm so happy that our two shows are able to have such great visits with each other.
I look forward to seeing all of them again when we get to Chicago.
Monday, June 22, 2015
6/19/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
This afternoon I had lunch at Blue Sushi and Sake. Yesterday when Laura, Emma, and I were walking around downtown I spotted the sign outside the restaurant, and I had to pop in to see if it was the same place that I had enjoyed so much in Fort Worth last year.
I was overjoyed to discover that it was the same, and I loved being able to get my favorite roll (eel, cream cheese, and pineapple) when I dined there today.
Before heading back to the circus I had dessert at Little Man Ice Cream, which was a shop decorated like an old fashioned milk tank.
I had salted Oreo ice cream, and it was delicious!
Ryan and I will be building new dog props for the Pompeyo family for next year's Vazquez tour, so today we got together to create a budget sheet for the project.
Back in Phoenix a famous radio DJ visited the show and sent me into a white hot fury with his lack of respect towards us.
Much to my dismay, he came back tonight to perform a special presentation before the beginning of each show's Intermission.
I stayed away from him to keep my stress level and gray hair count down, but we did have a minor interaction with him on stage during the first show.
After his introduction he came out and went from one dancer to the next, kissing them on the cheek. When he got to me, he gave a yell of disgust and waved his hand at me dismissively.
He then went in the other direction and kissed the rest of the dancers on the cheek. As soon as he got to the end of their line, Ryan spun around to "tie his shoe", and the DJ got a clown butt in his face.
It was hilarious, and the audience got a big kick out of it.
After the first show Ryan and I were talking to a little girl dressed up like the character Elsa from Disney's "Frozen".
Ryan said something along the lines of, "My goodness; I didn't know there was a princess in the audience."
The little girl immediately shot back, "I'm not a princess! I'm a queen!"
Well, I didn't vote for her.
The one upside of the DJ being our special guest tonight was that we did great business. The second audience was fantastic; definitely the most responsive crowd we've had since we opened in Denver.
6/20/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
This morning Kevin Harvey, his son, and his daughter-in-law came to pick me up for a fun day out.
Kevin is a graduate of Ringling's Clown College, and he toured with Circus Gatti and Carson & Barnes during the 1980s.
We went to lunch in downtown Denver, and then they took me to Boulder so we could walk around the Pearl Street Mall, which is an outdoor shopping plaza spanning three or four downtown blocks.
Kevin told me we might be able to catch some street performers, and sure enough we were able to see one man do some fire eating and a straight jacket escape.
Kevin and his family came to see the first show. While the cast was in the curtain area at the end of opening I noticed a huge shaft of light on part of the audience.
I asked why that was happening, and Ryan told me that the cupola at the top of the tent was open to let some of the heat out.
We had another great audience for the second show this evening. There were some people sitting at the very back of the ring that were having a great time. Maybe a little bit too much of a good time......
They were screaming almost the entire performance; sometimes at the strangest times. I wanted to ask them what they were on, and if they had any to spare.
We are in Colorado after all!
6/21/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.
This morning Emma picked me up at the circus, and we went to downtown Denver to have breakfast at Sassafras.
We had forgotten that Denver Pride was going on this weekend, and when we got close to the restaurant we saw that it was located on Colfax Ave, which had people lined up on both sides in anticipation of the Pride parade.
Trying to find parking was a nightmare since so many streets were blocked off, so we decided to go to the other Sassafras location, which was closer to the circus.
Even though we beat the brunch rush, we still were quoted an hour to ninety minute wait for a table. The hostess told me that I would get a text when our table was ready, so Emma and I went for a walk.
It took about forty minutes for a table to open up, and our food was well worth the wait.
I wasn't too impressed with my meal the last time I visited Sassafras, but they had such an excellent menu that I wanted to give them another try.
This time around I had a Cajun Benedict which had shrimp and crab cakes with a crawfish hash topped with poached eggs and smoked cayenne hollandaise sauce. It was excellent!
Emma and I also got an order of beignets to go so we would have something sweet to enjoy during our three shows.
I started our performance day in a wonderful mood and with such great energy, but as the day wore on the heat (the temperature was in the high 90s) and the subsequent lack of energy from the audiences due to said heat robbed me of my good humor.
Jo, one of the dancers, gave the motivational speech before the third show. She used the Forrest Gump line of "life is like a box of chocolates" as an example of the people on our show. She went through the cast and said which kind of chocolate we were most like. Ryan and I got Snickers because we and the candy bar are both nutty.
The best part of the speech was that all of us got an actual candy bar based on our assignment. Hooray!
After the shows there was a barbecue to celebrate Carmelo's birthday. I didn't stay for too long because I was falling asleep on my feet after such a draining day.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
6/17/15- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I went to breakfast at the Egg & I with Reid Belstock. Reid is a Clown College graduate, and he has performed all over the world as a comedy juggler.
We had an excellent breakfast, and then we just sat and talked for a couple of hours while we digested.
Back at the lot I was feeling restless, so I took a walk to the RiNo district. It was about a four mile round trip, but aside from the stretches where I didn't have any shade, it wasn't bad at all.
I found a funny shop on the way into town called the Chocolate Crisis Center. They sell crisis kits, which are little medical kits containing pill bottles full of chocolate. The bigger the med kit, the bigger the "crisis" it is meant for.
The lady working behind the counter was very nice and encouraged me to try all the different types of chocolate so I could create the perfect custom kit, but I would have felt bad taking free chocolate since I had no intention of buying anything.
In tonight's show, from the start of the water gag, I got a feeling from the audience that we were doomed to fail.
It was quite a surprise then when we got a big cheer from the crowd in finale. I guess you just never know.
6/18/15- 7:30 p.m.
Ryan, Alexa, and I were picked up at 9:00 a.m. and taken to the local UNIVISION station for a television publicity.
While we waited to film our segment we had an excellent view of downtown and the Cirque Du Soliel tent.
Everyone at the station was so nice, and they thought our schtick on camera was hilarious, which made us like them even more!
After getting cleaned up from the PR I picked Emma up at her hotel and we headed to downtown Denver to explore.
We really didn't have any grand plan for our downtown visit; both of us had sights we wanted to see, and we decided to just go to them and see what else we could find in between.
First we visited the Convention Center, which has a gigantic blue bear peering inside.
Next we headed towards the State Capitol Building.
On the way we passed by an area that had loads of food trucks set up in a giant oval formation. Apparently every Tuesday and Thursday the trucks are there during the lunch hours.
There were so many different types of food represented; I will have to come back next week and visit a truck or two!
At the Capitol Building there is a step that is marked as being exactly one mile above sea level.
You all look like ants from up here! Wah ha ha ha ha!
After feeling superior for a few seconds, we started walking towards Union Station, which the television crew suggested we check out.
On the way we met up with Laura, who bicycled over from the circus, and the three of us had lunch at Snooze, which is an excellent breakfast place I visited in the Phoenix area.
Union Station was nice. Besides being a functional train station, it also had a hotel, shops, and restaurants (Snooze being one of them) inside and attached to it.
After leaving Union Station we spotted Tattered Covers, a huge book store. We spent some time browsing the different titles. I found several books that I have been looking for, but they were all full price.
Being the cheapskate that I am, I'm going to continue to hunt until I can find used copies.
Emma, Laura, and I were all in the mood for something sweet, so on the way back to my truck we found a crepe restaurant.
We just happened to visit during their happy hour, so we were able to get a smaller portion crepe at half the price.
It actually worked out perfectly, because I feel that eating a full sized crepe would have made me feel miserable.
My clown friend, Bob Kelmer, his two daughters, and his future son-in-law came to see the show tonight.
Bob brought me a book about Krampus, a demon who punishes naughty children at Christmas time. I cannot wait to read it!
Thursday, June 18, 2015
6/15/15- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I checked out a breakfast restaurant called Sassafrass that several Denver natives had highly recommended to me.
My breakfast was alright, but not as amazing as I expected it to be. They do have a great menu though, so I plan to return and try something else that might meet my high expectations.
Besides going out for breakfast I had a lazy day at home; the three shows yesterday in the Mile High City really kicked my butt.
Ryan and I were slated for a big television publicity at 5:00 p.m., and we were told to be ready at 4:30 p.m.
Two hours before that Eddie came and knocked on our doors asking if we could be ready in 40 minutes.
Denver was expecting some severe thunderstorms, and the news station wanted to come early to film some segments in case the weather disrupted the live news feed during the 5:00 p.m. broadcast.
Ryan and I headed over to the tent shortly after 3:00 p.m., and we filmed a couple of thirty second teases with the walkaround props we keep on tour for just such an occasion.
After filming our pieces, we then waited around in the tent until the 5:00 p.m. broadcast happened. There was no severe weather, and the program went off without a hitch.
Ryan and I only passed clubs behind the reporters during the final segment.
After finishing our television publicity, we had about a thirty minute break before our second PR of the day, which thankfully was a quick one.
The daughter of the president of the UNIVISION network was celebrating her 10th birthday at the circus.
Ryan and I went to the circus’ concessions tent to wish her a happy birthday and take a picture with her and her friends.
The show’s generator kept dying during the afternoon, which was embarrassing enough when it happened during the live television broadcast, and even more so when the power shut off during Intermission.
What made it worse was that cast and crew from Cirque Du Soliel "Kurios" were in the crowd watching the performance.
After work there was a belated birthday party in the concessions area for Adriano, who is the boss of the stage crew.
The get together also served as a social opportunity for everyone on our show to visit more with our new friends from Kurios.
Ryan, Carmelo, and I spent most of the evening hanging out with Facundo, the clown from "Kurios".
Carmelo's interpretation of our visit
6/16/15- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I went to get a hair cut, and then I met my friend, Dana, in the RiNo (River North) district.
We had great coffee at Crema, and then we had amazing tacos at Los Chingones (tee hee).
I had a salmon ceviche taco, a beef and pepper avocado taco, and a white fish and mango chutney taco. Incredible!
Back at the lot I had a productive afternoon catching up on the blog and giving my house a much needed cleaning and organizing.
After the show this evening Ryan and I were talking with a family that said they were in town with the carnival.
Sure enough, when I went for a walk after work I saw that there were several trailers and sleepers parked close to the Coliseum, along with a truck advertising “Crabtree Amusements”.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
6/12/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m,
This afternoon Ryan and I spent a lot of time cleaning off our props. During the two weeks in Salt Lake City they became covered in a thick layer of dust, so we scrubbed them down with soap and water to ensure they were looking their best again.
We didn't have the big opening night crowds that I was hoping for tonight; hopefully business will pick up.
Memo Vazquez was visiting from the East Unit, and after the shows he recorded the announcements for the beginning of our vacuum gag.
Since Marcos left we have been doing the vacuum gag intro without any ringmaster interaction, but Memo missed those jokes and decided to help out.
Now Luis will play the announcements over the Instant Replay, just like he does with our sound effects.
6/13/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Yesterday while we were cleaning the little clown car, and changing the two flat tires we got in Salt Lake City, Ryan noticed that a hose coming from the engine was leaking gasoline.
We showed it to David, who has mechanical knowledge, and he diagnosed the problem.
This morning David and I went to an AutoZone to pick up some new tubing, and back at the lot he replaced the leaking hose in no time at all.
Business was much better for the shows tonight, which made me happy.
It began raining during the performances, and soon parts of the back yard were flooded. We had to put a pallet between the backstage tent and the men's dressing semi so that we wouldn't be ankle deep in water every time we went to do an act.
After the second show I joined the dancers and Alexa on a trip to see the movie, "Jurassic World".
We went in celebration of Sammie's birthday, and we saw the film in style.
I had never seen a theater with reclining seats and foot rests before; there is really no better way to watch a movie!
"Jurassic World" was just a bit too long for me (it may have seemed that way because we were watching a midnight showing), but there were some great action scenes, and I had fun.
6/14/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.
There are a few brunch places in Denver that I am dying to try, but I knew I'd have to get up early to eat there to avoid a long wait.
Since I didn't get to bed until almost 3:30 a.m., I decided to sleep in and just have breakfast at Panera Bread.
During one of the shows Ryan and I were playing around with a bald guy in the audience at the beginning of the vacuum gag.
He was being a smart aleck, and he was difficult to work with, but he did make me laugh pretty hard at one point.
When I ripped off my wig to put it on his head, he exclaimed in shock, "Oh s***!".
While laughing, I replied, "I know, right?"
During the three shows Ryan and I tried tweaking some of the bits in the carpenter gag, and so the whole day my performance felt off.
My body is so used to doing the gag a certain way, so changing things up really threw me for a loop.
I guess it is good to not get too comfortable and thereby robotic with the material, but I'm already looking forward to finding our new timing.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
6/9/15- Travel Day to Denver, CO
After only getting a few hours of sleep, we woke up fairly early this morning and drove the final 360 miles to Denver.
We traveled across Wyoming and then headed directly south into Colorado. I was worried about mountains on the drive, but the only steep one was between Laramie and Cheyenne, and we only had to go up it, which is usually less scary than going down.
We got to the Denver Coliseum, which is where the tent will be set up through the 29th, around 5:00 p.m.
We used to play the Coliseum with Ringling, and back then I never would have thought that our faces would be on the marquee one day.
I walked around the area surrounding the Coliseum for a little bit, but I cut my exploring short as a thunderstorm began to develop.
I called it a fairly early night since I was worn out from driving and getting such little sleep last night.
6/10/15- Day Off!
This morning our trailers were parked, and as soon as I got my truck unhooked, I drove to meet my friend, Dana, who works at a coffee shop downtown.
After she got off work we walked to the nearby Federal Bar & Grill. I had an amazing sandwich called the Leftover, which was a turkey burger with cream cheese, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on top.
We then went to Dana's apartment to get her dog, and then the three of us took a walk through City Park.
This evening I joined Ryan and his family on a trip to Casa Bonita, which is a Mexican restaurant that is also a super cheesy tourist attraction.
There is a waterfall in the main dining area, and different performances happen on the cliff above the water.
While you enjoy your meal you can watch pirates duke it out, cowboy outlaws have a gun fight, and even a gorilla that seems to know karate!
Almost every performance ends with someone diving off the cliff and into the water below.
Besides the main dining/performance area, there is also a two story arcade, other themed dining areas, and even a haunted cave to explore.
The cave was a little too much for Nico, but he enjoyed the arcade, and the two cheap pieces of crap that he won from the tickets that my $5 worth of tokens got us. And that's the important thing!
6/11/15- Day Off!
This morning my friend, Bob Kelmer, and his daughter, Katie, picked me up at the lot so we could go have breakfast. We ate at DJs 9th Avenue Cafe, which had delicious food.
Bob is a graduate of Ringling's Clown College, and he performed on the Gold Unit in Japan in 1989.
Since then he has also clowned on Culpepper Merriweather Circus and at Circus World Museum.
It was great to catch up with Bob, because he moved to Longmont, CO around five years ago. The last time we saw him was when we played near St. Louis, MO with Kelly Miller our first year.
Before taking me back to the lot, Bob and Katie were nice enough to take me grocery shopping.
A little later in the morning I was also able to tackle the mountain of dirty laundry I've been accumulating since we started working in Salt Lake City.
This evening a large group of us from Vazquez headed over to the Pepsi Center to see Cirque Du Soliel: "Kurios", which is in town at the same time that we are.
Zheni Espana knows someone on the show, and she was able to organize a ticket trade between their show and ours.
It was opening night for "Kurios", and in the beautiful reception tent there was as much free popcorn as you could eat, and as much free wine as you could drink. Cirque Du Soliel knows how to do a premiere!
"Kurios" had a full house for their first show, and what an amazing show it was. It has been nine years since I last saw a Cirque production, and this is one that you don't want to miss.
My favorite act consisted of a net stretched across the ring that the performers used as a trampoline; it was a real show stopper.
After the performance we were all given a backstage tour by Zheni's friend and a few of the performers.
Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and their backstage set up is simply amazing.
Tatiana is a childhood friend of Facundo, who is the clown for "Kurios". After getting cleaned up, he joined us for dinner at a sushi restaurant close to the apartments where the performers are staying during the Denver engagement.
It was neat to hear Facundo talk about working for Cirque. He originated a character role in the show "Wintuk", then he did the arena tour of "Dralion" as a clown. He just recently replaced the clown in "Kurios".
Thursday, June 11, 2015
6/6/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Today Ryan taught me the Chinese game of Mahjong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahjong). I played a few games with him and Tatiana, and I even won a few times thanks to beginner's luck.
It started raining between shows this evening, and the rain continued until the second half of the second show.
Even though it never rained especially hard, it continued steadily for that whole two hour period, and by the end of it, the lot was ruined.
Backstage was partially flooded, and there were huge puddles of standing water everywhere in the back yard.
I can't wait to get off this lot!
After the shows there was a birthday party for Claudie, our foot juggler, in the concessions tent.
Claudie and her husband, Dominik, ordered trays of Chinese food for everyone to eat; it was a nice change from the standard circus barbecues.
6/7/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.
This morning I joined Emma, Laura, Hannah, and Amy on a trip to Temple Square to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform.
I figured I'd give it another shot after last week's unusual circumstances.
Photos compliments of Emma
I am happy to report that no one died during the performance, and I greatly enjoyed the music.
This week there was the added bonus of handbells being played along with the usual musical instruments.
I couldn't believe the size of some of the bells that were being used; they were huge!
All I could think of was me and Ryan whacking each other with them for a gag.
After the performance we all walked over to Em's Restaurant, which I patronized last week. The ladies were all impressed with my ability to find such great restaurants on the road.
All credit goes to the Yelp app on my phone, and my desire to eat as much food as possible!
Before the first show I was about to step outside of my trailer to powder my wet make up. Ryan suddenly called to tell me that when he left his house there was a snake by his steps. It got scared and slithered under my house towards my steps.
He wanted me to be aware so I didn't step on it on my way to work.
Before I headed to the tent Tatiana looked under the trailer and saw that the snake was just lying there.
For the whole rest of the day I was freaking out every time I went home, because I never knew if the snake would suddenly crawl out under my feet.
The first audience was really rough; they didn't seem to care about the show at all.
Ryan and I decided we needed some motivation after that, so for the next two shows we played Mahjong in the dressing room whenever we had a break.
Laura gave the third show motivational speech today. She went around the group and asked everyone what they were afraid of. Naturally I couldn't give a serious answer, so I said commitment. I guess that just shows that what I'm actually afraid of is people around me expressing any emotion besides happiness.
After everyone named a fear, Laura told us a story about why she is terrified of heights. She then went on to say how she was living proof that you can conquer your fears, because she now performs high in the air with her boyfriend, Viśan, in the motorcycle act.
I was surprised, because even watching her do the act in the show for the first time, I had no idea that she was afraid. She faced her fear well!
As if her message wasn't inspirational enough, Laura also baked brownies for everyone!
As we ate the delicious baked goods, we kept expecting her to say, "I noticed that no one cited crapping themselves as a fear, which is good, because I baked Ex-Lax into these brownies!"
6/8/15- 7:30 p.m.
I spent all day preparing my truck and trailer for travel.
I was surprised that Ryan and I were actually able to hook our trucks up to our trailers this afternoon.
Usually we have to wait a couple of hours after the show before we can even get our trucks close to our houses, but in this town we were parked in an ideal location.
We had one quick, easy show tonight; Ryan and I had our props packed away into our trailers before the performance had finished.
We were able to leave the lot about an hour after the show ended. For once, when we left the lot was dependent on our schedule, which was wonderful since we are always some of the first people ready to leave the lot.
We drove about 200 miles of the 560 mile trip before stopping for the night at a Walmart in the western part of Wyoming.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
6/4/15- 7:30 p.m.
Today I had lunch at Crown Burger. I went because I needed to try a Utah phenomenon known as fry sauce.
I first heard about it at an In-N-Out burger in Dallas, TX. A woman was complaining loudly to anyone who would listen about how the establishment did not have any fry sauce, and how she couldn't wait to get back to Utah where she could get some.
Fry sauce is essentially ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together, but I have heard of some restaurants adding pickle juice to the mixture.
I got some fry sauce in a little cup to dip my fries into; it wasn't anything amazing, but now I can say I've had it.
My burger was very good, though; the Crown Burger has pastrami on top of all the usual burger accouterments.
Tonight during the show I was messing around in the seats at the beginning of the water gag. I had climbed the stairs to the upper bowl, and I had just taken a step to send myself careening down the stairs "out of control".
As soon as I turned to look where I was going, I saw that I was on a collision course with a man going to his seat.
I grabbed the man in a bear hug and spun myself around him. I quickly put my feet on the step below and braced us so we wouldn't both tumble down the stairs.
I'm very lucky that it was a man instead of a woman, because in the scuffle I grabbed firmly onto his chest.
He didn't call me later like he promised....
The audience didn't seem to care for us at all during the water gag (maybe it was because of my manhandling of one of their own), and their reaction to our other gags was tepid at best.
Boy were we surprised when we got a huge cheer from the people when we took our bow during finale.
5/5/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
This afternoon I joined Ryan and his family on a trip to Salt Lake City's Chinatown, which is comprised of one small shopping area.
We had lunch at the plaza's restaurant, and then we went shopping in the Asian supermarket.
We had much smaller crowds for the shows tonight than we've grown accustomed to during our run here in Salt Lake City. I was pretty disappointed in their size and response.
While we were taking pictures after one of the shows, a little boy stood at Ryan's feet, between his legs, while he waited for his family to be ready to take a photo with us.
The boy stood there for a very long time, and Ryan cracked me up when he said, "I feel like an emperor penguin."
Friday, June 5, 2015
6/2/15- 7:30 p.m.
This afternoon I went to Trolley Square, a downtown area east of the place I explored last week.
I mainly wanted to check out a book store in the Square, and after doing that I took a walk west to the Center City district.
Salt Lake City Hall
I found a good sandwich shop, The Robin's Nest, for lunch, and I also got a cup of coffee from the Salt Lake Roasting Company.
We had another big, enthusiastic crowd for the show tonight. After finale, while we were taking picture in the ring, a woman came up to us with an apprehensive little girl in her arms.
The mother ignored us the whole time she was around us to take a picture; she talked about us to her daughter in a nonstop, seemingly stream of consciousness barrage in Spanish.
"Look at the little clowns. Aren't they cute? They're not scary. That clown has an ear."
The last statement struck Ryan and I as particularly funny. Ryan wanted to reply, "Well, yeah, lady. My name is Ryan, not Van Goh."
Meanwhile the father of the little girl stood off to the side. We invited him to join the picture, but he declined with the attitude that taking a picture with us was beneath him.
Noting the man's polka dot shirt, I thought to myself, "No, I only dress like a clown. I'm not getting a picture taken with them."
6/3/15- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I picked up Emma from her hotel, and the two of us spent the day in downtown. She hadn't seen much of Salt Lake City since we arrived, so I took her to some of the points of interest I had already visited, mainly the Temple Square area.
We had a great lunch at a cafe and bakery, and it was so nice walking around and enjoying the beautiful weather.
Our legs were mighty sore by showtime, though.
We had yet another great crowd for the show tonight. During Intermission severe thunderstorms in the area sent some scary wind our way.
Ryan and I had to hold off on cleaning the water mat because the wind was blowing directly into the backstage tent, and it sent dirt and sawdust all over everything.
Gusts of winds up to 71 miles per hour had been recorded in neighboring cities; We didn't get anything quite that strong, but my trailer took a pummeling while I was inside during the start of the second half.
Luckily by the end of the show all the dark, storm clouds had passed.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
5/31/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.
This morning I drove downtown to attend a 9:30 a.m. performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I arrived about twenty minutes early, but the Tabernacle was already close to full. I found a seat in the side balcony and settled in while a speaker told everyone about the history of the Choir and Mormons in Utah.
He also told us that 360 men and women would be singing in the choir and 96 musicians would be playing for this performance.
About five minutes before 9:30 the announcer for the program went over some simple rules. He told us that the performance would be broadcast live on television and radio, so he asked for us to please turn off our cell phones, refrain from talking, and get all of our coughing out of our system now. Of course that was followed by laughter and lots of coughing, both real and fake.
The performance began exactly on time, and about 10 seconds in I heard a crash followed by a woman's bloodcurdling scream.
I was only able to see the aftermath, but I pieced together what had happened. One of the cameramen for the service suddenly collapsed, dropped off the platform he was standing on, and fell into one of the pews.
Ushers immediately ran over to the hysterical woman to console her, and more ushers ran to the fallen man with a medical kit.
Meanwhile, the musicians played on and the choir continued singing, because nothing was going to stop the live performance.
I've been on shows where performers were injured and the show continued on around them, but seeing it from the audience viewpoint, it seemed so cold and uncaring.
Before too long a team of paramedics came in with a stretcher. I was anxious to see if the man was alright, but from where I was sitting I couldn't tell from all of the people gathered around him.
Finally the man was loaded onto the stretcher.
In a zipped up, black body bag.
Needless to say, the choir's performance was a blur to me after that. All I could think about was what had happened.
At the conclusion of the performance the announcer thanked everyone for their cooperation and added, "Something happened to one of our cameraman, and our thoughts are with him; we hope that he is going to be ok."
I'm guessing that he said that just to keep everyone calm, because I don't know how ok someone can be when they're taken out of a place in a body bag.
After leaving the Tabernacle I went for a walk to clear my head, and I had a great breakfast not too far from Temple Square.
It was very hot in the tent for the shows today, and perhaps because of that the audiences weren't nearly as responsive as they have been.
I gave today's third show motivational speech, and I thought about telling everyone the story of my morning and using it as an example to always live your life to the fullest, but I decided it might be a little too depressing and morbid.
Instead I stuck with my planned script. I wore a white, button down shirt with a black tie and told everyone about the Book of Vazquez. Using one of the show programs as a prop, I gave a false history of Circo Hermanos Vazquez and used different performers in the story as prophets and angels.
I made myself and Ryan lepers.
6/1/15- 7:30 p.m.
We had a big crowd for the show tonight, and they were a fantastic audience. Overall I'm loving the crowds here in Salt Lake City.
At the beginning of the vacuum gag Ryan and I were in the seats playing tag and fighting with each other, and as we were working a guy in the crowd randomly yelled out, "Where are you guys from?"
This struck me and Ryan as so funny that this man had such a burning question that he felt compelled to ask while we were running around like idiots.
Back in the dressing room we took it even further and joked about other funny things he could have said to us while we were performing:
"Do you come here often?"
"What are you drinking?"
"I think I'll have what you're having."
After the show Alexa and I went to see the remake of the horror movie "Poltergeist". I enjoyed the film, and it made me jump a couple of times.
Monday, June 1, 2015
5/29- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Last night Eddie, our production manager, called to tell us to be on standby for a potential publicity this morning.
Close to 10:00 a.m. we got the call to get ready, and at 10:30 we filmed some interviews with the local UNIVISION television station.
The reporter interviewed Alexa, Jose Alberto, and Ryan inside the tent, and then outside we filmed another interview with Jose Alberto where Ryan and I were in the background with the dancers.
The interview outside went on forever and a day, and by the end of it Ryan and I had run out of funny things to do.
The crew was behind in setting up the tent since we closed in El Paso on Monday and had a long drive to get here, but Ryan and I were finally able to get our props into the finished backstage area around 3:30 p.m.
Shortly before the show Eddie texted us to ask if we could fill in for Carmelo with the beach balls. Carmelo was sick and lost his voice, and since the majority of his act is verbal, he could not work. Thank goodness we didn't toss those beach balls in the garbage after we last used them in Mesa, AZ!
Jose Alberto took over ringmastering duties from Marcos Valdes beginning tonight. For two of our acts Jose Alberto is either preparing for or just finishing his own act, so we didn't have announcements for the carpenter or vacuum gags.
This would have been a problem in the vacuum gag, where we have several jokes in the beginning that rely on interaction with the ringmaster, but I foresaw this happening, so I came up with an alternative plan where we could successfully work the bits in the seats by ourselves.
Luckily the changes worked great, and we killed in the vacuum gag for both shows.
Right before the first finale Nestor, who is in charge of the lot, came into the dressing room and told us to close our gray water valves and roll up our hoses (gray water is trailer sink and shower runoff) because the city inspector wanted to fine the circus $10,000 a trailer for every person dumping their gray water on the lot.
That is ridiculous, because we are playing on a real dump in this city. Where there aren't piles of dirt, the weeds and grass are overgrown, and there is a huge puddle of standing water at the front of the lot that the circus has been trying to drain since we got here.
God forbid a little dirty water sullies this beautiful location......
Several of us had to run to our houses, take care of the problem, and run back to the dressing room to change with seconds to spare before finale began.
Overall the stress we had to deal with tonight was not the best way to kick off our engagement in Salt Lake City, and it really put a damper on two great audiences.
Our friend, Luis, came to the rescue with thoughtful gifts for me and Ryan. On the drive to Salt Lake City Luis and his wife stopped at the Four Corners monument, which has a marker where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah all meet.
They picked up key chains for us both: mine has a miniature talking stick, which contains an obsidian stone, and Ryan's has a mini tomahawk made with a rock.
Perfect! New ways to hurt each other!
5/30- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Some genius flooded the tent's backstage, so every time someone walked across the rubber laid on the ground, runny mud would squelch up to the top.
Because of that Ryan and I couldn't dry off our water mat like we usually do, and we had to devise a new system that turned out to be a real pain in the neck by comparison.
We did great business for the two shows tonight, and the audiences were fantastic.
In the second show I was in the audience interacting with people at the beginning of the water gag. As I was running into the ring a woman grabbed me by the wrist and cut open my hand with her long, sharp nails.
As soon as she realized what she had done she hid her face in shame, and so for the rest of the show I made a big deal of trying to avoid her and her talons.
In the second vacuum gag Jose Alberto called Ryan "Steve" several times over the microphone until I turned back to him and yelled, "His name is Ryan!"
Backstage Jose Alberto apologized for mixing the two of us up and I replied, "It's ok, Alexa."
(I wish I could take credit for that, but Ryan made the joke about a week ago)