And so it begins. The adrenaline fades away, and all I’m left with is the feeling…the NEED t do more Puppet Up! shows. Singing the final lines of the closing song make me the happiest and saddest I can be. Doing this show is my absolute favorite thing to do. Even when I do shows, like tonight, where I feel I’m a little off my game.
I think it was because I didn’t get enough sleep that I felt a little off tonight. Even with the afternoon nap I had. Anyway, I just felt a little off my game. That being said, tonight was a fantastic show. The crowd loved every moment and a lot of fun was had.
I got to puppeteer and improvise with some of my favorite people, Allan, Colleen, Ted and Peggy and got to do my first show with Jordan Black, which was awesome. There were some really, funny moments in the show. Peggy, Colleen and Jordan did a fantastic carpool scene. Allan’s Usher is always inspiring and Ted’s Biography is Pia Zadora was hilarious.
For me, personally, the highlight was performing I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face. The first time I did the show after the recreations were added, I really wanted to do Java. Face was a second choice. But now that I’ve done both, Face has really become something special and I just live to do it. I will say that when it’s done, I feel like I’ve just come off the sports field because I really do strive to get every little move right. It’s a pleasure to do always and was especially fun to do tonight on the World Puppetry Day.
As far as being off my game, I just didn’t feel that I my improv was as strong tonight as it could be. My Jamboree song, though funny in spots was not as good, in my mind, as the previous two I’ve done. And my improv in the few scenes I was in, wasn’t as good as I would of hoped. I just didn’t feel like I was in the groove as much as I normally in while in these shows. At intermission I spoke briefly with Patrick about it and he sort of gave me a challenge for the second act that was really spot on and it brought me out of the funk I was feeling and allowed me to have some fun and feel better about the improv.
The crowd was amazing. Their suggestions ranged from really funny to things I would never type here, lest they become preeminently part of some google search engine and therefore permanently attached to my name. The Puppet Up crew, Cameron, Aaron and Sean were incredible, as always, for the full run. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is a great theatre to run in and the crew is top notch. It’s fun place to perform and hopefully we’ll be back soon. Finally, the crowd all four nights were incredible and we had an absolute blast performing for them.
Part of the reason it’s always hard to close Puppet Up is that we never really know when the next run of shows will be. That’s true in this case. Hopefully, world will come soon and we’ll be back creating the puppet anarchy we all know and love in the not too distant future.
Puppet Up returned, once again, to the Kirk Douglas Theatre for four shows in March of 2015. I was lucky enough to be cast in two of those four show, the opening and the closing. As, I’m sure, you know, I love being in Puppet Up. It’s, really, my favorite thing to do, so to say I was excited was an understatement.
Since it was opening night of the show, our call time was early because there was a little bit of tech to go through. I never mind tech because it does give us a little chance to practice technique and our crew, and the crew of the Kirk Douglas Theatre, are fantastic, so it’s never a chore.
Once we we sure all the tech end of things was running smoothly, we broke for dinner and to get changed into out ‘puppet blacks’ for the show. Eight o’clock rolled around and the Kirk Douglas was packed with folks ready for some puppet anarchy. There was an empty seat or two, but the place was pretty full, especially for a Wednesday night.
The show was a big ball of fun. The suggestions were ‘out there’ and that made it even more fun. Right off the bat someone shouted pro-wrestling as a suggestion. Glad I was in that scene. Some other suggestions were a carpool in a smart car from Texas to Uzbekistan, sex toy gumball machine, and a scene that had to end with the line ‘Pull my finger.’
We did the mini puppet variety show and Colleeen’s host was as wicked as ever. The suggestion for the first act, that Allan Trautman, Tim Blaney and myself were performing with bunnies was ‘Mid-Air Contortion’. What followed was pretty funny with Allan, Tim and I trying to find ways to put make the puppets appear they were doing mid-air contortion. It devolved into us basically throwing the puppets back and forth to each other. The audience loved it. The next act was Allan and Peggy doing Jazz Dancing and they nailed it. It’s pretty hard to describe what they did, but those puppets were Jazz Dancing for sure! Finally, was the Alien Barbershop. The suggestion was Necrophilia. My initial thought was to do a verse that rhymed ‘wife’ (of formaldehyde) with the word stiff. But then I tried to come up with a rhyme for formaldehyde. The result, for Necrophilia was:
I love the smell
Because that means,
I’m going for a ride.
I actually liked this one a little better because in my mind, it left the audience to connect the dots of what I mean meant by ‘going for a ride.’
The highlight of the night, for me, was performing I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face with Ted. I’ve done this before but especially now, while reading Jim Henson’s biography, the piece took on a little more meaning. And Ted and I agreed that last night’s version was probably the best we’d ever performed it.
So, a wonderful opening at the Kirk Douglas, we got a standing ovation. I cannot wait to do the show again Saturday!
Before I talk about what we did today, I wanted to say one more thing about last nights 9 PM show. During that show I did my jamboree song improv. I think this was the best one that I haven’t done yet. It is also probably only about the eighth or ninth time I’ve ever done it.
The song was about a guy who was sitting in the second row named Carl. Carl is a theater director. And I got off the best first verse that I ever have in the history of doing this song.
On the day Carl was born,
His parents were feeling fine,
Cause the first thing he did when he popped out
Was orginize a doctor chorus line.
They did their dance and people loved,
They got a standing ovation
Except for that one nurse who kept asking,
“What’s my motivation?!”
The rest of the song kind of fell apart after that, it wasn’t a total disaster, and the audience love the rest of it. I’m just eager for the day when the whole song will be as good as that first verse.
Now onto the events of today. I slept in a little bit this morning. Then got up and did my usual morning workout. After a shower, I headed out to get some lunch at a barbecue place named Memphis minis on hate Street.I may have found a new favorite barbecue restaurant in San Francisco. This place was fantastic.
After eating my fill of barbecue, I walked back to our place and just relaxed for a little bit.
There’s a couple of cool puppet up fans, Connor and Melissa, who are in town to see the show and I headed over to the theater a little bit before our call to hang out with them.
Tonight’s show was really great. So many fantastic, laugh out loud, moments for both the cast and the audience. We saw the Noir film The Orange Bicycle, the Hot Dogs went to Burning Man, and I rotated back into Alien Barbershop.
I just had surgery,
The bill gave me a scare.
Then I remembered,
It’s free with Obamacare!
Just a fun, fun show and a good show to go out on. I love performing with this group and throwing Brian Henson in the mix only makes things sweeter.
After the show we hiked, literally, to The Tonga Room for a closing night gathering. If you haven’t been to the Tonga Room in San Francisco, go. It’s indescribable and incredibly fun. We had fun just relaxing, unwinding and chatting.
The fantastic Krystle, who ran the box office for most our shows, came along and we chatted most of the night. She’s totally great, even if she thinks I’m a nerd.
After that, it was back to our respective homes via Uber to hit the sack for the trip home. Gonna miss doing shows, hopefully there will be more scheduled in the near future!
Huge thanks to the Puppet Up Crew who had things locked down and ready to go for the cast. Cameron, Ry and Aaron are the tops and we are so lucky to have them on board. Thanks to the local crew at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre as well, Tig, Martine and Greg. Our show is unlike a lot of other shows that come through theaters and this crew was not only at the top of their game, they were super friendly and enjoyed working with us.
Finally, big thanks to the rest of the cast, Colleen, Ted, Michael, Peggy and, of course, Brian Henson. It’s always such fun to be able to work with such talented people and I, honestly, do learn something new about improv and puppetry each time I do this show. And, thanks to Patrick. Our fearless leader. Able to roll with whatever bumps in the road arise and lead us through it with a smile on his face, and a can of Red Bull in his hand.
Unless something unexpected happens, these shows will be my last for the year 2014. And what a year it was. Local shows in Los Angeles, a mini Tour of the US, the amazing Australia run, a Pasadena Playhouse show and this San Francisco run. Thirty eight Puppet Up shows for the year. I couldn’t be luckier. I look forward to the adventures in 2015.
It is Saturday! That means we are having two shows today. One at 6 PM and one at 9 PM. So our call to the theater was a little earlier than normal.
But before heading to the theater, I got up early and met Patrick Johnson, our puppet wrangler on this tour, at the Walt Disney Family Museum. As a Disney nut, this is something that I have wanted to see for a while.
The Walt Disney family museum is on the Presidio in San Francisco. And it’s really just a beautiful area to hang out and even if you don’t go into the museum. But we were there to go see the museum, so in we went. Patrick’s wife Carrie is a member of the museum and so we got in for free. Excellent.
The exhibits at the museum or pretty amazing. I was most impressed with the first known sketch of Mickey Mouse, yes, they actually have it there. And this giant model they have of Disneyland. The model was just amazing. I wanted to buy it and take it home with me. Just truly fantastic.
They also had a special exhibit of all the Walt Disney trains. It was cool to see concept art and models of trains that eventually wound up in the park. My favorite part of that, was the concept art for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. One of the original concepts would have had jungle cruise boats and the Disneyland Railroad coming through the Indiana Jones attraction. It was pretty amazing.
After checking that museum we went over to Industrial Light and Magic and checked out the famous Yoda fountain. Then it was time to head to the theater. We had gotten there a little early so we walked around downtown San Francisco for a bit including a brief stop in Chinatown. But then it was time to get to the theater.
The 6 o’clock show was a lot of fun. And the crowd it was great! There was a lot of wackiness amongst the cast in the show and when those sort of things happen, those shows are always a bunch of fun. I had some family members at the show too so that was cool as well.
After the first show was over, we took a little dinner break, and then it was time for the 9 o’clock show. This show was even wilder than the first. Lots of fun suggestions lots of fun sketches. One of my favorite moments was when I forced Brian Henson to attempt a cart wheel with his hotdog puppet. It was a lot of fun. I felt a little guilty afterwards, but not too much.
This show meant a lot to me, because one of the teachers from my old high school was there. He was an English teacher at my high school even though I never had him for English. We were still great friends. He was the first person to introduce me to Spinal Tap. It was great to have him at the show and then to hang out with him afterwards.
After the shows were over we hung out for a bit at a pub next door to the theater. After a bit of carousing, it was getting late so it was time for me to head home. One more show tomorrow. This trip has flown by so fast. I can’t believe it’s almost done. I am going to savor every moment left.