Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Night to Reflect.

Laura's family came to visit today. Luckily I was "ON" for both the shows they saw. I've been inspired lately reading a book entitled "The Pickle Clowns" It's composed mainly of interviews with the original Pickle Family Circus clowns. The circus name might not ring too familiar to most -but the clown celebrities that sprouted out of this open-air circus wonder remain BIG names in the world of clown and physical comedy. Bill Irwin, Geoff Hoyle, and Larry Pisoni were the originals (Others gave great interviews -but I'm shooting at big names for the moment.) It is inspiring to hear their outlook on clowning, as well as how they truly roughed it from nothing into the biggest open air circus (and theater circus) to this date. I feel like a Pickle Clown... they came from these great backgrounds and were very skilled in their own areas. The circus show (being animal free) revolved around the clowns -and they had great creative control and freedom. This being a genius "feed me, feed me -I feed you -We are awesome!" environment, the clowns flourished, grew, and basked in their creative, skilled, and slapstick brilliance. I feel like I have great freedom and trust in me when I go into the ring. Here at Circus World I am the only clown -and the only resident act. I have become a circus name. And for some reason my clown persona soaks this up and feeds it back ten-fold whenever I do my acts. I have an out of body experience. I watch myself clown -I can see what I'm doing -and I truly surprise myself! I am actually pretty funny. I'm pretty darn good -I've "Borrowed" some material but have revamped it to make it my own (As just about every clown has done before me in the past.) To sum up the situation -I've gotten good! and I impress myself. and I love my job. and I'm happy with where I am at.

Today was father's day -as well as my dad's birthday. I made sure to call him -and we had a good talk. I miss my family terribly, yet the summer is short and continues to advance at a nearly overwhelming pace. Laura went home tonight and has tomorrow off. So, I did dishes, laundry, cleaned out my car, read, wrote a few clown acts, surfed the web, and wrote this blog. I also had time to make some phone calls that have been severely put off. It's been a busy night, but I'm glad I had things to distract me. Tomorrow I get to work with "the replacement Laura" more details to come. Goodnight, readers!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Month In! (Wal-Mart Bingo)

Things have been quite quaint here in "the Boo." We've been watching movies quite a bit and have a weekly rehearsal schedule -not to mention a weekly schedule.
Laura has been bitten by the circus bug (No, not Humphrey) and has the sudden itch to pick up as many skills by the end of the summer as possible. The list, in order of inspiration, is as follows... Magic, Contortion, Juggling, Clowning, Acrobatics... and I'm sure there are more to come. Tristan and I have been entertaining the idea of putting together a vaudeville show -YES, it has been done before. I am aware of the many attempts to revive vaudeville. However, with our combined skills and passion to perform, we dare to dream and continue to jot down notes and ideas... well, I write it all down -and leave all the talent and management to Tristan.

It was a long day at Circus World today... I was about to pass out after setting up for tomorrow's make-up demo. My back was aching and my voice was shot. It's a challenge being in character for most of the day -interacting at the face paninting booth (I brought in $94 today! -Almost broke the $100 mark!). By the end of the summer I plan to break a 100 both in the booth and in bowling as well. I'm starting to pick it up. The whole group(The Antons, Duo Fusion, Irene, Tristan, Maggie, Laura and Myself) went bowling about a week ago and it was a great bonding experience. (Before that we went out with Maggie and Tristan -our new best friends in town -if you couldn't tell already.) Besides bowling, The four of us went out the other night to see "The Hangover." The movie was hilarious -and proved to be a great outting and escape from the daily grind. Afterwards we went back to Maggie and Tristan's for pie (concocted by Maggie and Laura) -they needed heavy whipping cream, however, and Tristan and I set off for Wal-Mart at midnight. -AKA. the bewitching hour at Wal-Mart. The first sighting was of a woman taking her sweet time at the "Speedy Checkout -20 items or less" line -we laughed at the irony and contradiction as I believe the lady payed in change and coupons. Then, in walked the Manson family. Long haired hippy people from the Baraboo hills -probably there for beer, Doritoes, and soda. They had long hair, glazed eyes, and a confused yet giddy disposition. The youngest was around 12... I fear for the future. Next came in two men heading right for the condom aisle... I have no problem with this -more power to them -but the the pre-mentioned ombiaunce, they also got a chuckle out of us. We got up to the register and found ourselves victims of our own game when we looked down to realize that we were two giddy gentlemen buying a carton of heavy whipping cream. Yes, the last laugh was on us, and we laughed all the way home -to finish off the movie "Willow" which we started about a week and a half prior.

We are officially one month into the season and things are still going great. July is a sleeping giant about to be woken up by independance day fireworks. I fear that the great wall of midseason is coming upon us. Breathing deeply and calmly I keep entering through the curtain and making the most of my time. Family will start coming out soon, and my nephew's birthday is coming up. The parade is also in the oncoming future, along with many more stories -I'm sure. Keep tuned in and stay safe. More updates to come!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Few Pictures.

We have here 4 pictures...

1. Me in a leotard and tights imitating a cirque clown... "Oopa!"

2. A sampling of my cooking skills! -Yes! It tasted as good as it looked.

3. Me imitating a Lou Jacobs picture that I love. (This is Humphrey the moth!)

4. Me in front of my billboard!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rainy Day

Waking up with aching hands for someone with arthritis -means it’s going to rain. Waking up with an aching everything else for clowns -means it’s going to rain. We’ve had about a handful of cloudy days with rain in the morning -but today was our first muggy day of the season, AND this being the Midwest and summer still not being in full swing -IT WAS COLD TOO! Yet, the show goes up rain or shine; full house or one eighty-fifth of a house. The make-up demo had a decent house today and they were all quiet and interested. I guess terrible weather really puts people in the mood to sit though just about anything, and since the crowd was a little fuller and more patient I filled out some of the details in the life story that I usually skip. I plan on switching over to an audio recording the whole time and having a Q&A session at the END of the demo in the near future, just because stopping to ask questions and gesturing slows the show down a bit to it’s full time slot of 30 minutes (and some times more.) I knew it would be a very quiet day in the face painting booth, but I grabbed the money and planned on pitching merchandise the whole time. Even if I don’t get any profits, it’s still nice to know that I’m making the museum some money. It is the least I could do, considering the knowledge and magic that it brought to me when I was growing up. I set up shop and watched a considerable amount of visiters walk their slickers and umbrellas over to the tiger show -if nothing else, we had some hardcore troupers here to see a show -AND BY GOD, I’D SHOW MY APPRECIATION BY GIVING THEM A DAMN GOOD SHOW!
I bought a new smaller suitcase at St. Vincent dePaul’s yesterday (a thrift store near the museum that stays open conveniently late on Friday/payday). I loaded the case and took it for a few test unloading and found it to be satisfactory. My old case that I was using was a cheep trunk that Ben Bolin gave me when I was on the road (He coincidently got married today! -I hope all is well for the new couple.) It was a thin, plywood footlocker found at a Target. From Ben’s first of may trunk -to part of my “leaving the show luggage” -to prop trunk at Circus World last year -TO functioning trunk and prop case in China -then here as opening number prop trunk -it has lived a great life exceeding it’s $15 worth. I had 3 REALLY GREAT shows today -all the volunteers I picked today were perfect and the audiences, though small, were surprisingly responsive. Even more surprising was my business after the first show. I drew in a deep, cold breath before I walked to the booth and started my pitch. “Face painting -get your face painted right here -that’s right as long as you have an umbrella and the desire to transform yourself into a LION, a TIGER, a BUTTERFLY -oh my, a performing DOG, or circus CLOWN -I can make your wildest dreams come true…” I turned around and there was a line at the booth! “Can I help you? -We also have toys.” “How much for face painting?” “Five Dollars,” I said ,“Five for full face and three for cheek stamp design.” I ended up painting TWO full faces and FIVE stamp designs! Bringing my grand total up to 25 Dollars! Not bad for the start of the day -I didn’t get further than that, but I was in shock all day that I was able to sell washable face paints to people on a rainy day! Old P.T. Barnum would be proud. It was so cold during the circus show that I could see my breath! And in the first show I peeked through the curtain during the elephant number and saw steam billowing off of a pile of elephant droppings -that made me laugh. The girls were very cold all day in their show costumes so we kept our distance and tried not to irritate.
The Magic Show was my favorite show of the day -this is an increasing trend. I LOVE my magic spoof now -I even cracked myself up a couple of times today. You GOTTA come out to see it. Business never picked back up in the face painting booth so I called it a day early. I helped Dave sweep the ring before I took off my make-up and deposited my money to the accounting vixens. The women in the accounting office are two women who are both grandmothers and very funny girls to get going. I like to visit them and talk to them, as it seems like barely anyone else goes back to visit them. They are sweet women who are very friendly and aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. Tonight I was going to get my haircut, but I found out that haircuts at Wal-Mart close at 5 on Saturdays and I’ll have to wait until Monday to lower my ears. I bought a few things for the dressing room -as well as a sweet card for Laura (who is in a once-a-month-slump) -that cheered her up and scored me some brownie points. She made dinner (Tuna Helper -I’m teaching her to cook for college) and I made dessert. I made s’mores on the stovetop. I put Golden gram cereal and chocolate pieces in small bowls then roasted the marshmallows before adding them. I did a DUMB thing on my second helping, however, when I ate my bowl with the metal fork that I had been roasting the marshmallows with… my upper lip still tingly and numb… I hope it doesn’t blister -D’OH! We took a cat nap which went on longer than expected (two hours! -I woke up and wrote this blog… Laura is still sleeping.) It’s 10:30 now and I fear that it’s going to be a hard night to fall back asleep. It has, however, been raining off and on -and the sound of rain on a trailer or train car always puts some weight on my lids… the space heater is on and I’m cozy as a bug in a rug -THAT REMINDS ME- Before I sign off, today Laura found a HUGE moth and brought it back to the dressing room. We took lots of pictures and made it dressing room mascot for a day. It’s name was Humphrey (Laura’s name after the Hubert Humphrey terminal in the airport back home…) There will be a full post of pictures coming very soon. Keep checking in -and keep optimistic -some days the dreariest days turn out to be the most fun.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Day in Paradise.

(Lately I’ve been having trouble with internet connection -so the posts will be sporadic. I wrote this last night and couldn’t post it… if you are reading this…. I finally got it to work… DUH! -Enjoy!)

The make-up demonstration started a minute or two late -even though I was there 10 minutes early this morning. I got carried away snooping about in the projection booth (aka. one of the MANY “temporary” storage spaces on site). The Demo was okay… one kid raised his hand and said “I don’t like clowns…” I thought he meant he was afraid of clowns -so I started off with “Well, clowns don’t like you either.” That got a laugh, then I went on to explain that that’s why we are doing a demonstration this year -to help people understand what being a clown is like -and to help break down the illusion just a little bit -to help realize that underneath the costume, make-up, and character was just a normal person. The little boy then responded with “No, I’m not scared of clowns -I just don’t like them.” I was a tad miffed (being 9:30 in the morning and nobody cared about what I was doing) AND there was a BUNCH I could have responded with, but I simply replied with “Oh… well… good for you.” And hastily tried to finis the demo. After the demo I clean up and set the stage for the day of old circus documentaries -and while I was sweeping up my baby powder I noticed that kids just kept coming down the hall -TONS of kids… it was going to be a fun Circus Show.

I picked up my money bag for the face painting booth and set out to clean shop. It’s hit or miss in the booth on school show days… either the kids have money and the schools let them spend it (YAY) -OR they are instructed to keep away from the dirty carnie vendors (BOO). I got a good feeling for the crowd as they filed across the bridge from KidsWorld to the Tiger Adventure. TONS of kids! I patiently waited backstage making a grocery list for tomorrow and reading a bit from “Ringmaster;” the Kristopher Antekeier book about his year with the red unit. I went out to pump the crowd (my favorite thing to do during kid shows -this started back on Ringling -kids are SO excited and they are ready to see this fantastic circus show… they have this great energy and buzz -and I’d love to get them pumped before the big show began). I went out to dust off the ring curb. I then proceeded to dust of the butts of our senior citizen volunteer’s butts (ALWAYS gets a good laugh) Potty humor is not below me. I did a little hat tossing -which went over well -so I ran backstage and grabbed my diablo. “Higher -Higher” is my favorite game. I toss the Diablo up as high as I can and try to catch it. I also throw in a bit where it lands on my head conking me out. The kids went NUTS! It was a good show. Big reactions for the Boom-Box Gag and the Karate Gag (It was too cold for a volunteer water gag). After the show we meet and greet as people exit -I was attacked as usual. This was all fun and good -until I went over to the face painting booth. -Note to self… if kids are bugging me too much -go to the booth MAKE ‘EM PAY OR LEAVE. In today’s case -they left -as if I crapped my pants and put on a dress -as soon as I got in the booth everyone vanished to the picnic area. NO buyers today… no 50% cut on face painting… I had lunch and read a bit more before the Ring of Illusions Magic Show.

The show went smoothly and I really starting to have fun and be comfortable with all my bits. I’ll be set by the middle of this month. My Magic Spoof act was hastily thrown together and at the beginning of the season -was better on paper than in the ring. But I’m re-working it and I’m getting some good reactions now. I still have to add and cut some more though. (Note: add large glass and marshmallows to grocery list.) During the last trick of the show about half the audience left (school group hours) they had busses to catch and absolutely would NOT wait the extra 2 minutes that the show would have taken. That happened a lot last year too during the Razzle Dazzle. I was brutally swarmed and swatted at again by cotton candy faced smart asses. There was a smattering of GOOD little children who can look forward to presents from Santa this year. But the rest of them were a bunch of nose grabbers (Children whos mission is to take the clown’s nose -even after they see the make-up demo.) I chased this with another terribly unsuccessful 5 minutes in the booth. I left the booth and read a little more of “Ringmaster” before I let Tucker out. Upon leaving the trailer I noticed that Steve Freese’s (The head director of the museum) Car had a large ziplock bag under each windshield wiper filled with what looked to be large coconuts. -With a closer look I noticed that these were not coconuts but elephant droppings. I laughed and applauded the practical joke by Brian Franzen (our animal trainer this year).

The last Circus Show was alright -but the crowd was VERY quiet. I had a last minute surge of business at the end of the day bringing my booth total up to $14. Two faces (a lion and a tiger), three swords, and one clown nose. I came back to my trailer to find that the two bags of elephant turds were on my front step… to retaliate I put them inside Steve’s grill. HOT LUNCH! -Don’t worry, they were still in their sealed ziplocks. -For extra measure, though, I opened the vent to let bugs into his grill as well. Tonight Maggie, Tristan’s wonderful girlfriend, was going to make dinner for the four of us -and Laura was to be her sous chef. We had Pot Pie for Dinner and a BANANAS FOSTER pie for dessert. It was VERY satisfying. While waiting Tristan and I watched a movie called “Shine A Light” -a documentary on the Rolling Stones and one of their recent performances. It was a great inspiration to see these 60 years old ( and PLUS) men RUNNING around and dancing like sex gods… They still have “it” and for two performance geeks like Tristan and I -we reveled and awaited our later days in the performance industry. After a fun night with GREAT food, full bellies (food and laughs), and great company we left to call it an early night. Laura went to bed at 9:30ish… and I wrote this LONG blog. I am beat now and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. I still love my job and I am happy with how life is at the moment.

Happy thoughts readers!

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Clown Acts For the Season (Spoilers -Beware)

So, here's a rough outline of my day... the circus show happens twice a day. The second Circus Show is after the Ring of Illusions Magic Show. Spoiler alert -medium. After both Circus Shows and the Ring of Illusions Magic Show I have a face painting set. -That's 3 sets a day... All of these acts and occurances will be refered to in later posts... again -just setting the pace for future blogs.

Make-Up Demonstration--


Catch it at 9:30am! I tell my life story, tidbits about make-up and clowning in general, and I display a full transformation into the poster clown for Circus World Museum 2009 -Roger the Clown!

Circus Show--


I come out into the ring with a boom-box. With a little help from a volunteer I figure things out. I plug the boom-box in (get electricuted) and break into "goofy dancing" to such classics as "I Feel Good"-James Brown... "The Mexican Hat Dance"... and "Quando Quando Quando". A newsflash comes on informing of an escaped gorilla -I get attacked! Then the ringmaster saves the day.


Clown hosts a squirtgun showdown with an audience member.


A cinder block breaking display -as Roger the Clown shows off his karate skills with another volunteer from the audience.


I come out and announce an intermission and go to read a paper. Yet I have a rough go with the chair and the newspaper and before I can get comfortable the "intermission" is over --"GALL-BLANG-IT-DANG-GUM-IT!"

Ring of Illusions Magic Show--


Light classics as "Is this your card?", "The vaporizing water!", and "Pulling a rabbit from the hat" are attempted... poorly.