Friday, November 27, 2015

Tuesday, November 3-Tuesday, November 10: Freehold, NJ

11/3/15-7:30 p.m.

Pamela and I had lunch at an empanada restaurant this afternoon. The empanadas were good, but they weren't better than the ones Tatiana makes.

After lunch Pamela and I visited Turkey Swamp Park to walk around in nature and enjoy the beautiful weather.

We did such fantastic photo concession business the first weekend in Freehold that I had a sizable chunk of extra money burning a hole in my pocket. I took that and combined it with a couple of birthday gift cards to buy a Nintendo Wii U game system. Now you all know what I have been doing rather than updating my blog.....

We had a good crowd for the show tonight, but they were very unfocused. Any of the more subtle bits we did seemed to be missed completely; the people mostly responded to the big slapstick and sight gags. Mostly.

Our clown friend, Dan McCallum, came to visit again this evening, so we enjoyed chatting with him before and after work.

11/4/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I met my friend, Doug Young, for lunch at the mall right next to the lot. Doug is the owner of the New Jersey Circus Center, which is just down the road from where we are set up.

After eating we checked out a new Japanese store called UNIQLO that just opened in the mall. I found some great black and white striped socks that made perfect clown costume accessories; I picked up a few pairs at a great price.

Back at the lot I invited Nico over to take my new Wii U system for a spin.

Last night was supposed to be our last in Freehold, but the show made a knee jerk decision based off the great business we did this past weekend, and we will be staying here through next Tuesday.

I feared a terrible drop off in business, and although we did get a small crowd tonight, they weren't a bad audience, which was some consolation.

11/5/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Pamela and I had lunch at Bobby's Burger Palace, a restaurant chain owned by TV chef, Bobby Flay.
It was ok.
Return again? I don't think I may.

Look out Dr. Seuss!

Ryan and I died a horrible comedy death in the show tonight. On the bright side, our clown friend, Brenn Swanson, visited with her family, and she brought delicious cookies for us. She also brought a program from the very first clown festival in China that she helped organize back in 2007.

11/6/15- 7:30 p.m.

Our clown friend, Pat Cashin, came to visit this afternoon so his son, Jamie, could play with his new friend, Nico.
While the kids played, Ryan, Pat, and I visited and shared many laughs.

We had slightly better attendance for the show tonight, which was promising. Our friends, John Bundy and Morgan, came to watch the performance.
John plays Santa on the Christmas tour that Ryan and I perform on every December, and Morgan is his assistant when he performs his magic shows throughout the year.

The alternator belt came off the little car this evening. Unfortunately I didn't discover that until I threw down the clutch so the car could make its entrance into the tent.
I quickly jumped out of the car and pushed it around the ring. I thought I was in pretty good shape until I noticed how exhausted I was for the gag after having to do that impromptu change.

After the show we visited with Bundy and Morgan for awhile, and before we headed back to our trailers, we saw Luis, who gave us an amazing gift: a microphone and all of the equipment that goes with it so that we can record our own high quality announcements and sound effects.
It was such a thoughtful gift that for once Ryan and I were speechless.

11/7/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

It completely slipped my mind for us to fix the alternator belt on the little car before the first show, so once again we had to push the auto into the ring for the 2:00 p.m. carpenter gag.

At Intermission we went to fix the problem, but it turned out to be a more involved job than we had  anticipated.
We had to borrow an Allen wrench from Martin to properly fix the belt, but I was happy that we finished the repair before the second show.

I was worn out and achy today from being sick, but the second audience was really into the show, and they gave me a burst of energy.

By the third show I was feeling incredibly discouraged. I had so little energy from being sick that I felt like I couldn't do a good job for the crowds no matter how hard I tried.

11/8/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I chose to sleep in as much as I could today, and it seemed to help. My body felt much better, and I had energy for all of the shows.
I owe a lot of that to my wonderful girlfriend, who drove to the grocery store after doing three shows last night so she could get the ingredients to make me chicken and dumpling soup.

I did feel that the audiences were tough today, but I had a very good second show.

11/9/15- 7:30 p.m.

My clown friends, Lee Andrews and Joey Klein, came to visit this afternoon. Before we went to lunch I warned them that I was feeling really run down from the six pack and from being sick, but by the end of our visit, I was feeling in much better spirits.

Joey brought a very thoughtful gift along with him. Last weekend when we were walking around the mall, I lamented that I have never been able to find a duck calendar.
Joey took it upon himself to find twelve different pictures from my Facebook page of me with my different pet ducks, and he made me my very own 2016 duck calendar.

After the show there was a birthday party for Alexa Vazquez. Pamela and I only made a brief appearance as I felt the need to rest since I was still recovering from my sickness.

11/10/15- 7:30 p.m.

It rained all day today. Pamela and I spent most of our free time running errands and getting ready for our jump.

Today was Ryan's 31st birthday, so when he and his family got back from running errands, Pamela and I went over to his house to take him his present.

Everything was wet in the tent for the show tonight, especially the ring curb and track where the audience walks to their seats. To avoid slipping and busting our butts any time we had to run in our gags, Ryan and I had to be very careful and really pick up our knees as we ran; it looked like we were involved in a Benny Hill chase sequence.

There was a small crowd for our final show in Freehold, but they had a good time.

Ernest Albrecht, the editor of Spectacle Magazine, came to watch the show with a friend. Here is the review that he wrote in the most recent issue:

"I caught up with the so-called Western Unit of Circo Hermanos Vazquez in an upscale mall in New Jersey that the Cole Bros. show played several years ago, just once.  The Vazquez troupe was  there with the stipulation that the show would include no animals, which apparently even included dogs and horses.  To compensate the circus brought in new thrill act, made of up motorcycle daredevils who jumped from one ramp to another across the space of the entire ring .
The show also included one new act which I had never seen before.  Duo Exxtrem’s double strap act upped the spectacle by being dunked into a tall and rather narrow fish bowl between flights.  For a spectacular finish they included bursts of bubbles, fire and smoke to their impressive work aloft.
I also enjoyed seeing Klaudie Legronova Bremlov, the show’s amazing foot juggler, again, and, of course, the cast included Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs, whose work that rainy, chilly night before a very small audience was about as close to comic perfection  as you will find.  I was impressed anew by the duo’s  carpenter gag whose beautifully realized props, turned the act into a small Laurel and Hardy movie set.  The vacuum gag’s blow off utilized more of the team’s clever props.  Obviously Ryan is the Paul Jung of the present generation.  I know of no other producing clowns, who are as effective, that is to say funny, clever and surprising as this talented pair.
I also enjoyed watching Steve get even with an audience member who decided not to play by the rules in the beach ball bouncing time filler interlude.   He knows how to handle a recalcitrant or uncooperative audience member and make him regret his trying to top the clowns.
Another new element added to the show is a bit of sermonizing a la UniverSoul.  “Kiss your parents and thank them for bringing you,” kids in the audience are admonished.
The audience on the night I attended was small because it was the closing night of a week’s extension of the original run.  As is often the case, the added week was not as well promoted as the first week, but the company played it all full out."

The "getting even" with an audience member that he referred to happened like this:
After the carpenter gag I caught my beach ball on the ring curb and descended the steps into the audience. The spotlight was right in my face, temporarily blinding me, so I walked right into a row of empty metal folding chairs. I bashed my shin really hard and fell on my face; not the best way to start an act.

As I limped around the stands hitting the ball to people, one smart aleck man grabbed the ball, held onto it, and smiled at me as if to say, "What are you going to do now, clown?"

I simply smiled and waved goodbye to him, and then I left the tent. I made sure to wave goodbye to him one more time before going down the stairs that lead to under the seats.
I quickly ran as fast as I could under the seats, and I went up the staircase that brought me directly behind where the troublemaker was sitting.
Before he could react, I grabbed his hat, taunted him with it, ran down the stairs, and tossed his cap into the ring.
I turned around and blew him a big kiss before returning to my beach ball.
Big laugh from the crowd.

The lesson to be learned? Don't screw with the clowns, especially when one of them is limping and bleeding under his costume.

Taking the props from backstage to my truck wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.
We loaded as much stuff into my truck as we could, and then we pushed the big props over. That part was easier since there was hardly any traffic at the intersection we had to cross. I was even able to drive the little car over, which was very easy.....and fun!
The one frustrating thing that happened was that the weld broke on one of the wheels on the carpenter box.
Guess what we'll be fixing in the next town?!

Most people weren't going to leave for Newburgh, NY, the next town, until the morning, but Ryan and I wanted to avoid traffic, so we decided to leave tonight.
Nestor helped us leave since the trailer parking area was so tight, and by the time we hit the road it was already midnight.

It was supposed to be about 104 miles to Newburgh, but Ryan's RV GPS took us on a route that was about 20 miles longer. I didn't mind too much because it took us away from New York City and all of that traffic.
It rained the whole drive, so that was bad enough. There were a few times that the road was so shiny from the collected water that I couldn't see the lines for lane separation.

We stopped at a Walmart in Newburgh around 4 a.m. Our plan was to wait there until we were called to be parked at the new lot.

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