Puppet Up! San Francisco Tour Diary – November 14, 2014
I did not get to bed last night until after 1:30 AM. I slept very well in the cool house that Puppet Up has put me and Michael Oosterom up in. I got up at about 9:00 AM worked out and then walked the easy 10 minute walk to my parents shop.
I absolutely love to walking around San Francisco and being very familiar with my surroundings. When I was walking down the street that my parent’s shop is on, I saw my father standing out front and started to wildly wave at him. Next thing I know, my mother comes out in front of the shop and she starts running down the street to greet me. It was so good to see my parents as I haven’t seen them in a few months and that was just for a short visit.
I went over to the shop because some people were coming to film a promotional video for my dad’s business. My dad did not want to be on the video at all so he asked me to be there to be sort of the spokesman for the company. We took some time to shoot the video with the production company and, being the Baciocco family, we had a great time doing it. There’s always a lot of laughs when the four of us are together.
After the video was done, I hung out and visited with my parents and brother for a bit then Cameron and Aaron from the Puppet Up production came by the shopand we all took a walk to get some barbecue. It’s always great fun to hang out with both Cameron and Aaron. And the barbecue was pretty great too.
After lunch Cameron and Aaron went off to explore San Francisco and I went back to the shop and hung out with my parents for a while. My parents, along with my brother, and some of their friends were all coming to the show tonight so I’m very, very excited.
I’m also excited tonight because Robin Goodrow is coming to the show. Robin Goodrow created a show called Buster and me that was a local San Francisco kids show. It was one of my first exposures to the puppets, outside of the Muppet show. I’m very excited to get to perform puppets in front of somebody who inspired me as a kid.
After visiting with my family for a bit, I walked back to where we were staying and just relaxed.
Headed down to the theater at about 5:30 PM. Got to experience the fun of taking my first Uber ride. At the theater we rehearsed some pieces including the jamboree song which would be in tonight’s show. Soon enough it was showtime.
Such a fun show tonight. Lots of great suggestions from the audience and a few crazy ones! The jamboree went well. Sang about Justin sitting in the front row who was a clinical psychologist. The jamboree got many laughs but it’s just not quite where I want it to be yet. It will get there though. Another favorite sketch involved Ted, Michael and myself stuck in an elevator. It was really a funny sketch and it’s hard to explain via writing. You kind of had to be there. But that was probably my favorite sketch of the night.
Because I sang in the jamboree, I did not sing the alien barbershop tonight. Those duties fell to Michael Oosterom.
After the show I went out to the lobby and it was great to have my family there. I can tell that my mom and dad and brother all enjoy coming to see the show. That means a lot me. It was also great fun to meet Robin Goodrow after the show.I told her again how her show had been a big influence on my love of puppets. She told me that she never had kids but all the people who watched her show her like her kids. I took a picture with her and I can’t wait to get a copy of it.
After the show, the cast went and had some food. Then we were off back to our places of residence. Tomorrow, we have two shows which will be interesting. But exciting. I can’t wait.
Puppet Up! San Francisco – November 14, 2014 – Opening
Set off today for another fun PuppetUp run. This time is especially fun because the show will be playing in San Francisco. Growing up in the Bay Area, it’s always great to get to play there. It’s also fun because the first time I played a full run of Puppet Up shows was in San Francisco in 2011, so it extra special.
Funny story from that first San Francisco run, I had only done a few Puppet Up shows here and there before that and hosted two of them. I was excited because Brian Henson and Bill Barretta were both doing the run as well. First rehearsal, in the theatre, and Brian and Bill are going to rehearse the opening of the show using their Bobby & Sampson characters. Brian says, “Leslie (Carrara-Rudolph), you right hand me and….Grant, you right hand Bill.” Wow. Pressure is on from the start.
So, Bill and I are getting Bobby on and as I slide my hand into the sleeve I jokingly say to Bill, “So what kind of voice do you want your hand to have?”
Without missing a beat, Bill looks off stage and yells, “Where’s the champagne glass that Bobby always holds?”
It was funny. Anyway, back to this trip. The Puppet Up crew arrived at Burbank Airport at 8am for our 9:55am flight. As we checked in we were informed that our plane was delayed due to weather. So we hung out in the airport and watched the clock. Finally, around noon, we were on the plane and off to San Francisco.
Once in San Francisco, we were in the van off to the theatre and to slip into our rehearsal which we were a little late for thanks to the flight delay. As I’ve said before, we have a great crew and they are total pros so we were soon up and running.
We rehearsed pretty much up to house open and then it was time to don our puppet blacks for the show and what a show it was.
We went into this one a little frazzled for several reasons but pulled out a really fun show. The audience tonight was amazing. They were better than amazing, they were incredibly amazing. So much fun. Great suggestions, I mean, Narcaleptic Juggling?! What better suggestions is there than that?
Got to do I’ve Grown Accustomed to your Face and the Alien Barbershop. The topic of the barbershop was Jesus. I decided to tread lightly and not insult anyone:
I don’t insult Jesus
As a general rule.
Even though I’m and atheist,
I went to catholic school.
Got a big laugh from the crowd. Some really funny scenes tonight. The Narcoleptic Juggling was a personal fave. And, of course, it was a treat being on stage with Brian Henson.
After the show, and some socializing in the lobby, we went to a big cast and crew dinner that was a bunch of fun. After we made our way to our accomodations for the weekend.
I have good feelings for this portion of the run. And tomorrow, as one of the added benefits of doing shows here, I get to go visit with my family. Can’t wait.
Here we go! Puppet Up!
Creative Mondays #024 – Don’t be precious (a lesson from Gonzo The Great)
This is one of those rules on creativity that people talk about a lot. When you are creating something, especially something you are creating with other people, you cannot be precious with your ideas. Some of them will get used, some of them will not get used. You must know this going in otherwise you’ll be setting yourself up for misery.
This rule struck me one time when I watched it happen right in front of me. In 2003, I was lucky enough to be invited to hang out on the set of a Muppet commercial shoot. It was the Dominoes Pizza Super Bowl ads that they were in. For two days I just sat, like a fly on the wall, and watched as the people behind the Muppets worked their magic. As a side note here, my favorite Muppet is Gonzo, so I kept a close eye on what Dave Goelz, Gonzo’s performer, was doing.
During one break I noticed Dave was over near the Puppet Wrangler’s table working on something. He had some items from the Craft Service table, a long puppet rod and some tools and was busily building something. Someone asked what it was and he said he felt lil Gonzo should be doing something in the background of the next shot they were filming, so he was building a stack of food for Gonzo to balance on his finger. The rig would have made it appear like Gonzo was balancing a peanut on his fingertip, then balanced on that, a soda can, and then a bag of chips and so on. It was really a great looking rig and it was built out of actual stuff! He drilled holes in a REAL peanut in order to slide the rod through.
I’d say he spent about a good thirty minutes of his lunch break on this neat little addition to the commercial. When he was done he tried it out and the effect was hilarious, it looked like Gonzo was balancing all this stuff on his finger. Everybody loved it. They tested it out on camera and it looked great. But then, somebody decided that it just wasn’t right for the scene. The Muppets mantra has always been, “Pull Focus” but this gag was pulling a little too much focus. Ultimately, the decision was made not to use it. I guess in a commercial you don’t want to pull too much focus away from the product you’re actually selling.
So, after working so hard on this little piece of puppetry fun, what did Dave Goelz do? He just tossed it aside with a smile and got ready for the next shot. His attitude was one of, “Well, that would have been fun but, oh well, no big deal.” Now, he could have been upset or fought for it or thrown a big-time hollywood star tantrum, but he didn’t. He moved on to the next order of business with a smile.
Seeing this happen really struck me. Something you work hard on, no matter how good of an idea it is, may not make the final project. This happens all the time when creating things with others and it can happen in working on your own stuff as well. A particular exchange of dialogue in your writing may be the best you’ve ever written, but if if doesn’t work with the story, you have to toss it. You can be upset for a moment, but then you have to move on with your creating.
This is a tough one. Usually us artists go from thinking everything we do is crap to everything we do is good. Sometimes, even when you know you have something good, you have to let it go if it’s not working.
Take a lesson from Gonzo: you can’t be precious with your work.
What Others Are Creating #001
I want this blog to not just be about my stories and stuff that I’m creating. I want to show off some other great creative work as well.. I truly do enjoy seeing the other creative projects that people are working on. So, the other day, I put out a call on Twitter for links to projects others were working on. Things that they are creating for themselves. Below is a list of those who replied as well as some creative goodies from others that I’ve been impressed with this week.
STV MEDIA STUDIOS – http://www.stvmediastudios.com/home.html – Connor Asher is an aspiring puppeteer whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times while out on Puppet Up! Uncensored tours. Actually, I shouldn’t say he is an ‘aspiring’ puppeteer. He’s a darn good puppeteer and he is not waiting for anyone to tell him what he can and cannot do. He’s creating a media empire on his own and I fully suspect I’ll be sending him a resume someday for a job on one of his projects.
Randall C. Willis – http://createdbyrcw.com – Randall is another creative type who I was lucky enough to meet in Toronto while performing in Puppet Up! – Uncensored. He’s a great guy and his website is full of short stories, essays and photographs he has taken. Check out his pictures from his walk around Vanderbuilt University or his piece called Music and the soul. Really touching.
Kristin Hogan – https://www.etsy.com/shop/SquidFriends – Kristin Hogan is yet another crdtive dynamo I met while doing Puppet Up!. She is an artist in many mediums but making stuffed squids is her passion and they are pretty amazing. She will be at Dallas Comic-Con next weekend, so if you’re in the area, check it out. Kristin also penned a really great piece about copycats on her tumblr. It has inspired another Creative Mondays post as it’s something I’m dealing with now as well. Give it a read, really great food for thought – http://squidfriends.tumblr.com/post/85026374907/a-word-on-copycats-vs-other-people-inspired-by-the-same
Goon Holler General Store – http://www.goonhollergeneralstore.com – One of the really incredible things that has come out of my use of the social media app Vine is meeting Parker Jacobs. We share a lot of the same creative influences and creative spirit and he, like me, seems intent on creating good quality family fun. If you’ve watched Yo Gabba Gabba! Or The Aquabats! Super show! You’ve seen his art (and possibly his creation Tooba, the sasquatch.) He recently opened up a website to sell some of the items bearing his unique art (and I’m proud to say I was order #27 through his store)! Go peruse what he has to offer. I can highly recommend his book The Goon Holler Guidebook and who wouldn’t want their own Tooba pillow?!
Prednisone By Carla Ulbrich – http://youtu.be/WE1rmToYWyY – My good friend, and incredibly talented singer/songwriter, Carla Ulbrich checks in with this great lyric video of her ‘hit’ Prednisone. Give it a listen. You’ll be singing it all day.
The 33 by J.C. Hutchins – http://jchutchins.net/the-33 – My podcast pal, J.C. Hutchins, is in the middle of telling a great podcast story called The 33. J.C. Calls it ‘TV for your e-reader’ and I would whole heartedly agree. It’s not for kids, but if you like a goos sci-fi, supernatural thriller, you should check it out. You can even get a sample of it for free. It’s good stuff.
So check out one or all of these projects. Who knows, perhaps you’ll find your new piece of inspiration in one of these. And I’d love to make this a regular feature, so if you have a piece of creative work that’s online, tell me about it in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
Have a great weekend!