Tag: stuffed and unstrung
We were back on a bus early this morning heading off to Joliet, IL from Milwaukee. The bus ride was nothing major, which if you’ve been reading was a very good thing.
We rolled into Joliet and drove past the Old Joliet Prison, the prison used in the opening credits of The Blues Brothers. Very cool. I put She Caught caught the Katy on the iPhone as we passed. Thought it was appropriate.
Minutes later we were at our accommodations. The Harrah’s Casino Hotel in Joliet. We checked in and I hadn’t had breakfast so I decided to strike out for food. I was much into eating at the Paula Deen kitchen that was in the hotel. I looked up what was around on Yelp and discovered Chicken-N-Spice. Sort of a ‘mom & pop’ version of KFC. It was pretty great. Dan Ring joined me and we had a good lunch.
We walked past the theatre and saw that the Marx Brothers had performed there in the 1930’s. pretty amazing. The theatre outside was beautiful.
We walked back to the hotel and I decided to check out the casino with the eight dollars I had in my pocket. I wandered around looking for something to play and wound up at a video poker machine. Two hands later I was up forth six dollars. Decided that was a good time to call it quits and headed back to my room.
I prepared my bag for the show and headed to the lobby. We walked as a cast and over to the theatre.
The venue was beautiful on the inside and they have a lobby that is just about a city block long. It was impressive. We went into rehearsal and tonight it was going to be a little nerve wracking as I was switching into operating the Henson Digital Puppetry System and Ive Grown Accustomed To Your Face.
I’ve done HDPS before in San Francisco, so I’m more or less okay with that, but Face would be a new one. I was swapping in with Sean Johnson and we were both making our debuts. It was exciting, but as I said, nerve wracking.
I was confident though because on the walls backstage all the previous artists had signed their name and the Oak Ridge Boys had been through here. I felt Grandma Donny would be there in spirit if that was the case.
The show was great. DId a fun New Choice with Peggy about bobsledding. We did an insane Hot Dog bit about a Spelling Bee and Face and HDPS went over great (though there’s room for improvement in both. I’m sure once I have them down pat, it’ll be the last night of the tour and then I won’t do them again for several months to a year.
Alien Barbershop was fun. Lets see if you can guess the topic:
I have hot flashes.
I’m cranky you bet
And when it’s time to get busy
I’m not very….fun.
After the show it was back to the hotel and we all spent some time in the casino. Not too much though as we had to get up early for a flight to Florida. And we were all excited for FLorida because there was a possibility something very cool would happen tomorrow. And it did. But you’ll have to wait and see what it is.
Let me start by saying this, I prefer when we move onto the next town the night after a show. I don’t like having to get up early to travel. That being said, I’m EXTREMELY grateful for this opportunity and would gladly stay out as long as they wanted me to.
We were up early to leave Wausau and head to Milwaukee. The trip was uneventful, but did take several hours in the morning. Once we got to Milwaukee we checked into the Hilton City Center and proceeded to our rooms. So far this has been my absolute favorite room on the tour. The bed was comfortable, the pillows were amazing, the blackout curtains worked and the internet was fast. What more could you ask for?
I immediately hooked up my iPad to play some Mystery Science Theatre 3000 as I dozed off to sleep for a couple hours. It was so nice, and needed.
I then woke up an hour or two before call and worked on yesterday’s blog post. THen showered and met the others in the lobby to head over to the venue.
Ah, the venue. The Pabst Theatre. Stuffed & Unstrung was through here in 2011 and though I was on that tour, I joined up later. I had heard all these stories about how amazing The Pabst is. The stories were true.
The Pabst theatre is a fantastic venue. The inside is just amazing and, as Sean Johnson said, “Very Muppet Show Theatre-esq.” The artist Green Room is a green room by which all other will be compared. Big fluffy couches, bean bags, a LP Record Player with a huge collection of LPs, a collection of stand up arcade games, a vintage nintendo machine, a foosball table and a bistro bar. It was pretty sweet.
The food was amazing too. That was another thing people had been talking up and it didn’t disappoint! They even made us our own banana bread cake. The great thing was we’d finished soundcheck and tech rehearsal early so we were able to enjoy this place for several hours. I believe it put everyone in the right frame of mind to do a kick ass show.
One word about tech rehearsal. I have been asked to sub in for I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face. One of the two vintage recreations we do in the show. I’ve been asked to play the part of ‘Demon Head’ which was the part Jane Henson played. A HUGE honor. I think I may be debuting tomorrow night in Joliet.
The Pabst Theatre show was amazingly off the charts fun. The first three sketches were so funny and so filled with rapid fire laughs, it was just an incredible experience. The momentum slowed a little after, but in a good way, so that we weren’t wearing the audience, or us, out.
I had a fun New Choice scene with Allan. I played Rambo in the A&E Biography on Rambo, we did just an absolutely insane scene about the hot dogs on a roller coaster and the Alien Barbershop song was about Bacon.
I love Bacon
Its wonders don’t cease.
I’d kill my grandmother
For one more piece.
The crowd was so into the show all night and gave us a big standing ovation after. It was just a fantastic show.
After I got to meet up with Tim Winslow and his wife and friends in the lobby. They are big comedy music fans from way back and we’ve known each other for several years. Was so happy to have them int eh audience. Saw them sitting right down front during the show.
After the show some of the cast and crew went to a Milwaukee Bar called The Safe House. You need to know a password to get in and if you don’t know it, they put you through a series of embarrassing tasks before they let you in. Luckily I knew the password. Not much into bars, but this place was pretty cool to just walk around and look at all the things. They have doors that lead nowhere and a bathroom with two way mirrors so as your checking yourself out in the mirror, people in the hallway can see you.
After the bar we walked back to the hotel past the Bronze Fonz and then it was back into that glorious bed.
So, the hotel.
We often head to the next town the night after a show. This gives our crew more time to get, much needed, sleep before they have to be at the venue.
We left Fort Worth earlier than normal, about 11PM. We got to Austin around 2AM. As I said it was an uneventful bus trip, which was nice for a change.
When we got to the hotel, the inner door to the lobby was locked. A guy, another hotel guest opened the door for us but when we got in there was no one at the front desk. The place was deserted.
A sign read that we should dial 0 on the phone in the lobby and someone could help us. Alan dialed 0 and the phone rang at the front desk where no one was. It rang and rang and no one came out. Alan hung up and tried again and it went to a busy signal. So we were standing in the lobby at 2AM with no one to check us in.
It was then that Tyler spotted a stack of check in papers and keys on the front desk. He hopped over the counter and proceeded to check us all in. The papers were made out to us, so it was basically him distributing room keys. Relieved to be able to sleep, we wandered off to our rooms.
Outside the door of my room there was a horribly musty, moldy, smell. I entered the room and was knocked over by a super powerful ‘cleaner’ smell. It was super powerful, and nauseating. I put down my stuff and wandered back towards the front desk, contemplating going across the street to the Hyatt in the parking lot. It was late though and if I did go to another hotel, I’d have to pay for it. So I just bit the bullet and bedded down for the night in my horrible smelling room.
The next morning I was up early to do a TV appearance on local Austin TV. Patrick, Juliana and I headed out with a driver from the venue, The Long Center and we went and did a very brief TV appearance. It was fun and we got to see some of the sights of Austin as we drove to and from the television station.
They bought us breakfast at a place called Spiderhouse Cafe. Juliana and I had the Tupelo Honey & Bacon Sandwich. Bacon, Peanut Butter, Bananas and honey on whole wheat bread. The whole wheat bread makes it healthy. It was amazing.
Once back to the hotel, I asked about switching my room. This was the opportunity the hotel staff was waiting for.
STAFF: You with the group that checked in last night?
STAFF: We have a phone right there, you know. You could have called us.
ME: We did. The first time it just rang and rang. The second time it was busy. No one was here.
STAFF: Well, the woman on duty has worked here for 10 years and there’s never been a problem.
ME: Well, there was a problem last night. She wasn’t around.
STAFF: Well, one of you hopped over our counter. We have it on video.
ME: Well, it wasn’t me. How about that new room?
STAFF: We don’t have any available at your rate. Sorry.
Ugh. They’ll be getting a nice review on Yelp.
As I was changing to strike out into Austin to meet some friends for lunch, I realized why my room smelled so horrible. At some point the rooms on the first floor on this side of the hotel had flooded. They got rid of the water. Maybe replaced the carpet…maybe. But then they didn’t do any other cleaning, they just poured on the industrial cleaner. Lovely.
I then headed out to meet up with Mary Jo Pehl and her husband for lunch. It was so much fun to hang out with them. We had a great lunch and they were excited to come see the show that night.
Afterwards, I walked around Austin for a bit and then it was time to get back to the hotel and get set for soundcheck.
Over at the venue, I ran into Dani Pruitt who works at the center. She helped put on Leslie Carrara-Rudolph’s show in New York and she’s helping Leslie put on her show in Austin, so I’ll be seeing her again soon.
The show in Austin was fantastic. The crowd was into the show from the moment it started and there were a lot of great suggestions.
I had a great Slide Show structure with Allan. We were doing an orientation for new exorcists. It was really loose and fun and Allan and I had a lot of fun playing off of each other.
The Alien Barbershop was another fun one. The suggestion was Long Division. I REALLY wanted to do a long division problem, in song, in four lines, but I needed some scratch paper to work it out. Anyway, this is what I came up with:
I like long division.
I’m not a hater.
But I’m no fool,
I use a calculator.
Overall it was a really tight show and a lot of fun. We got a standing ovation at the end, so Austin was super kind to us.
After the show we spent some time in a tiny bar called Ego, then Sean Johnson and I walked to a place called Gourdoughs. They make the most INSANE donuts in the world. Just look at this thing….
There is a donut in there. Somewhere.
We then walked back to the stinky hotel, saw Patrick and Juliana and Patrick in the lobby and chatted for a minute and then retired.
Tomorrow is a travel day to Wisconsin. It’ll be a long day of travel, but it’ll be very good to get out of this hotel. Blech. The glamor of life of on tour.
The morning of the 9th was spent lazily getting ready for the show that night at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, and making sure I was all packed up to leave. We needed to check out of the hotel as we were hitting the road to Austin right after the show.
Once I was all packed up, I took another stroll in downtown Fort Worth. They have a really nice downtown area, though most of it is under construction.
After a late lunch it was time to head to the venue. Bass Hall is an amazing venue. Like a giant opera house on the inside. Almost a little intimidating to play there it’s so big and ornate on the inside.
The cast is usually called to the venue at about 3 or 4PM. We get into mics and go through sound and tech rehearsal. This is to check the sound, but to also check some of the tech elements of the show, like the Henson Digital Puppetry System and position things like the rail that we use for Java and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face.
I want to take a brief moment to give a shout out to our crew Greg, Cameron, Zach and Sean. These guys have to be at the venue early in the morning to direct the local crew in getting things set up and ready to go. A few days ago when we had that seven and a half long hour bus ride? They had to get to the venue right after we arrived. No sleep. They do a heck of a job making us look good.
After rehearsal we usually have dinner at the venue. Today the dinner was barbecue chicken and it was amazing. We got to dine in a really fancy green room too. Just off of the green room was a fancy little reception room where Patrick realized it’s be fun to take these goofy ‘serious’ photos. We spent pretty much up to show time posing on this couch and coming up with insane ways to pose with the puppets.
Then it was time to Puppet Up! The crowd at Bass Hall was fantastic. Their suggestions were awesome and they were with us the whole time.
I did ‘Slide Show’ with Allan and our suggestion was Oprah & Gayle’s Road Trip. We had some fun with that and when a slide of a cow came up I remembered Oprah and her ‘beef’ with the cattle ranchers. I brought that up and it got a big laugh.
Alien Barbershop was fun, though having a day off, I should have refreshed my memory on the right key of the song a bit. I was off. But the rhyme got a big laugh. I’ll let you guess the topic but here was my song…
I do it daily,
To keep me calm.
Just don’t look,
At my hairy palm.
That went over pretty good.
We got a great suggestion for the title of our Film Noir structure: Double Indignity. Hilarious!
Right after the show we hit the road to Austin. The bus drive was, refreshingly, normal. No problems at all. We even got a stop at a Whataburger. It was so nice to have some uneventful travel.
But then we got to the hotel….
And since it happened after midnight, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.