Tag: improv

Puppet Up! Tour Diary – March 21, 2015 – Kirk Douglas Closing Night

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.

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Puppet Up! San Francisco Tour Diary – November 16, 2014 – Goodnight San Francisco

The house where Michael and I stayed while in San Francisco.

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!

Barry the usher from the backstage tech position.

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.

Puppet Up!

blue puppeteers
None of us wanted the shows to end.
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Puppet Up! San Francisco Tour Diary – November 15, 2014

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.


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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!

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