S&US Tour Diary – April 16, 2013 – Ocala, FL

After yesterday’s adventures, the cast and crew seemed ready to refocus and kick a little butt in our show tonight. I woke up after some much needed sleep and then got in touch with Brian Clark, Sean and Tyler and we walked over to a Cracker Barrel that was near the hotel. Cracker Barrel is always an experience.

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After a decent breakfast we all returned to the hotel as it was time to pack up our belongings and get headed to the venue. There were several reasons for heading over early. First, is that since Brian was rotating into the show, we wanted to do a little brush up rehearsals. Not that Brian needs it at all, it’s just that there are some technical things that needed to be worked out with Brian now here. Secondly, the show tonight was on the Central Florida College Campus at Ocala and part of the deal was us doing a puppetry improv workshop for any interested students.

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The workshop was fun. There were only a few students and they were eager to learn. People love getting the chance to play with puppets and when they are Jim Henson Company puppets, they are super excited. The students worked hard and did a great job. I also feel it was a good experience for me to just go back to the basics when it comes to improv. It’s a good refresher course.

After the workshop we had to return Brian’s rental car which became an adventure in itself. The workshop ended at 4PM and we had rehearsal at 4:30PM. About that time I realized I’d left a show shirt in the closet of the hotel. Then Peggy needed half and half for her coffee. So Brian and I headed out to do all these things AND fill the rental car’s gas tank. We only got two of those things done before we had to turn around and come back for rehearsal.

Rehearsal was fraught with audio issues so we didn’t get nearly the number of things in that we wanted to rehearse. It was then time for dinner and Brian and I headed out again to get the rental car returned. We drove to the sprawling Ocala airport. I say sprawling because the Ocala airport is just one building. One building and a control tower. One building, a control tower and several guys who look to be about 60 or 70 standing around out front with their arms folded. An international airport it is not.

We got the car returned and met our ride back to the venue and it was dinner time. We were running way late but fortunately/unfortunately more audio snafus delayed curtain by several minutes and gave us more time to get ready and set for the show.

The show was great. One of the smaller venues we’ve played on this tour and the crowd was light, especially compared to places like Milwaukee or even Hamilton, but the crowd was great. They loved the show and had great suggestion. The litmus test was the very first scene, New Choice, that Peggy and I did together. Patrick asked the crowd for an activity that the two of us would be doing together and the suggestion was showering.

I immediately thought, “Two people showering together. Hippies trying to conserve water.” So at lights up this is how the scene went…

ME: You know Sharon, showering together is such a great way to conserve water.

PEGGY: You are so right…dad.

HUGE laugh from the audience. We were being wrong and they loved it. Something we were worried about as it seemed the audience was skewing a little older. But again, they were loving it.

So many funny scenes, adding Brian to the mix stirs everything up. He brings a completely unpredictable energy to the show. The Hot Dog scene about a bank robbery was great fun our Noir Scene was wacky. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face went even better, excited to give it a go again tomorrow.

Alien Barbershop was fun. In fact, the whole Puppet Talent Show was fun. The first suggestion was Baton Twirling and Flatulence which became the act Toots & Twirls! Then Peggy and Sean did a great scene as two competing Wilford Brimley impersonators and then the ALien Barbershop suggestions were reproduction and sex. Here’s the rhyme…

I love reproduction and sex.
I think they’re really hot.
The only thing I hate,
Is sleeping in the wet spot.

Yeah, way over the top but the audience loved it.

After the show we welcomed the arrival of our big Sleeper tour bus. A real ‘rock n roll’ style bus with bunks and everything. We had one of these last time we were in Florida and, while most of the cast hated it, I actually liked it. It seemed that this crew that’s currently on the road really embraced it.

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It’s a brand new bus and had us riding in style for the three and a half hour trip down to Fort Prince. We made our, now traditional, stop at Wal-Mart to stock the fridge on the bus and then hit the road. The cast and crew stayed in the lounge for an hour or so and laughed and chatted, then one by one people returned to their bunks and the vibe mellowed out. I slipped off to my bunk with about 30 mins left in the ride and enjoyed be rocked in my tiny little bunk by the open road.

I really love being on tour. I love seeing new places, meeting new people and making folks laugh. The ‘End of Tour Blues’ are setting in hard. Only two shows left. I wish it was twenty. Luckily I have the upcoming week in Austin with Leslie Carrara in May. That takes the sting out of things a bit.

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