Monday, July 20, 2015

Friday, July 17-Sunday, July 19: Melrose Park, IL


7/17/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

The crew was mostly finished setting up the big top last night (mostly), so Ryan and I were able to get our props loaded into backstage fairly early today.

It was a hot and humid day, but I didn't care, because they finally got air conditioners installed in our tent!
It really made a difference for the shows. I could feel the change in temperature as soon as I went from the big top into the backstage tent. More importantly it made the audiences happier, and it made doing the gags so much easier. I actually had energy to be funny!

Memo Vazquez is on our unit now (I think for the rest of the tour), and he took over ringmastering duties from Jose Alberto.
It was amazing to me that he jumped right into the show and hit all the announcements without rehearsal. I don't know how he can remember everything from last year while he's been doing the other unit's show all season.


7/18/15- 9:00 p.m.

This morning I got a photo of the tent texted to me from my friend, Dan. He was right next door at Target, so I walked over to visit with him for a bit.
Dan was a clown on Ringling with me and Ryan, and he is currently in town with his girlfriend, Lisa, looking for apartments.

In the afternoon I walked to the grocery store next to the lot to pick up a few things. When I left the trailer I noticed ominous storm clouds in the sky, and I prayed that the oncoming rain would hold out until I got back to my trailer.
Luckily, it was only sprinkling when I was walking back to the lot, but as soon as I closed my trailer door it began to pour.

There was a lot of rain, some thunder and lightning, and a little bit of wind, but nothing too extreme. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, there was a HUGE gust of wind. I got scared and ran to my windows to see what was going on.
I was shocked when I saw that there was an enormous rip in the big top, and the rain just continued to come down in buckets, now soaking everything inside the tent.


When everything calmed down I went over to the big top to survey the damage. What happened was the wind caused the tent to bounce, and the canvas caught on the jagged edges of two of the towers comprising the curtain set. There was a small tear on one side of the set, but the rip on the other side is the one that really opened up.


Starting around 3:30 p.m. every crew member and performer on the lot was in the tent working together to repair the damage.
The first order of business was getting all of the lighting and sound equipment down, as well as the set.
As we were doing that, some of the crew members were preparing new strips of canvas to patch the holes.

The cupola of the tent had to be lowered enough so that the ripped section of the big top could be removed.



The torn section was then taken laid out on the ground, and people began to use a heat gun to heat weld the new strips over the tears.
It began to sprinkle again while this was happening, so several men held up a tarp to keep the work area dry.


It was clear that we were not going to have anything ready in time for the first performance at 6:00 p.m., but our goal was to still have the 9:00 p.m. show.
As the evening wore on, it became apparent that the patch was not going to repaired in time for the late show, so the cupola was raised back up, and we all helped put back the set as well as the lighting and sound equipment.

I always work in black and white. It makes everything more nostalgic.

We performed our 9:00 p.m. show with a missing section of canvas, but luckily the weather cooperated and it was a lovely night.


And as an added bonus, the aerial acts looked really cool from outside.


We performed to a big, enthusiastic audience, and at the end of the show Memo asked the audience to stay for a moment longer while he told them what had happened in the afternoon. He asked them to give us all a big hand for working so hard to make the show happen.

I really was proud of how everybody pulled together as a team today to overcome adversity.


7/19/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning my friends, Dan and Lisa, picked me and Emma up at the lot to take us to brunch. We went to a restaurant called Maya Del Sol in Oak Park that had excellent food.
Dan, Lisa, and I all worked together on Ringling, and I always enjoy staying with them when I visit New York City.
They will be moving to Chicago (Lisa's hometown) soon, as they found an apartment they want while they were in town visiting Lisa's family.

Back at the lot I went into the tent to see if the crew needed help with anything, but they were done and ready for the three shows. (I have excellent timing like that!)
The crew stayed up late last night and got up early this morning to get the rips completely fixed and get the missing piece of canvas back onto the big top.
When they were done, everything looked as good as new!


During the first show I couldn't find the rip cord to start the little car that we use to enter for the carpenter gag.
I always start the engine about 30 seconds before our entrance, but the cord was stuck under something, and we are in the dark while we wait in the curtain, so I couldn't find it.

Ryan pushed the car into the ring as I sat behind the wheel and steered. When he got the car into position, Ryan collapsed onto the floor from exhaustion.
He stood up just in time to get clocked by the anchor that I throw out from the back of the car.
Big time comedy, baby!

I gave the third show motivational speech today. It is an idea I had a couple of months ago, and it has taken me that long to properly prepare it.
I wrote a parody of the song "We're Doing A Sequel" from the film, "Muppets: Most Wanted". My version was called "We're Doing A Third Show".

I wish I had had the forethought to have someone record the whole thing, but Lily pulled out her phone about halfway through and recorded some of it.
Most of my jokes were at the beginning of the song, but at least you'll get the general idea.

video

I was happy that people enjoyed my presentation; I got many compliments afterwards, which felt great.
Unfortunately I am giving the speech again next week, and I know there is no way I can top this one.

One of my lyrics in the song was, "We're doing a third show. I'd rather have kidney stones; 'cause everybody in the crowd will be on their phones."
Sure enough, there was a woman sitting towards the back of the ring that was on her phone during the carpenter gag.
As we exited the tent we passed right by her. I stopped and said, "Lady, unless you're liking us on Facebook, you should get off your phone."
I got a big laugh from her, her friends, and Memo, who was standing nearby.

After the shows there was a small barbecue over by Jose Alberto's trailer. I went over for awhile to have some amazing food and chat with folks for a bit.

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