I love music. When people ask hypotheticals about if they’d rather lose sight or hearing I think I’d have to go with losing sight first because audio is so important to who I am as a person. I love the way that something you hear can make you feel a certain way. It’s one of the reasons I love producing audio dramas. Finding the right sound effect or piece of music that fits perfectly for that part of the story will instantly put a smile on my face.
I also love music. Music can just make you feel some many things. The right song can make you feel incredibly happy or rip you to your very core. Puppetry is, obviously, a visual medium but music plays and important part in it. Puppet Up is no exception. There’s our opening and closing numbers, there’s our new finale piece called The End and there’s Windy, Java and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face that play a huge part of in the show. Then there’s the underscoring that Dan, our accompanist, does. I always get a big laugh when Dan finds just the right song to play after the blackout of a scene.
But there is other music that I really associate with Puppet Up and that’s the music I’m listening to at the time or that I hear while on the amazing trips. For example, the first time I went on tour with the show was in 2011. I joined up with the tour in Florida for a string of five shows. Since I was meeting up with the tour I flew to Florida on my one and then got a taxi to the airport. While in the cab, Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks was playing. I’m not a terribly huge fan of the song, but when I hear it I always think of that feeling I felt, driving to meet up with the tour in Florida, ready for a week of adventure and shows.
I thought it might be of interest, to no one but me, to make sort of a record of some of the songs that I was listening to while on this recent Toronto Tour. Here’s ome of the more notable selections complete with YouTube links.
The Hellacopters – I’m In The Band
This is my ‘show song.’ I listen to this before every show to get pupmed up and ready to go on stage. This and Alcohol by Barenaked ladies really get me ready to puppet up.
Martin Solveig Feat. Dragonette – Hello
This one will always remind me of the Toronto tour, like Pumped Up Kicks will remind me of the Florida tour. This run we got brand new pre-show and intermission music and this track plays during intermission. Not really my type of song, but it’s poppy and fun. Ted HATED this song with a passion and would constantly say, “I think there should be a video of this song where the girl is just running away from that noise.” By the end of the run Brian had a whole dance routine worked out to it that he forcibly made me learn one night. Several times we got our intermission ‘places’ call and this song would come on as were standing backstage, ready to go for Act 2. Everyone would be dancing. Ted even danced one night.
Neko Case – Calling Cards
Neko’s new album has been on heavy rotation on all my music paying devices. So many great songs. This one is my favorite. From the first time I heard it. While in Toronto, I heard an interview with her on NPR and she talked about how it’s about being on the road with a band and missing other bands you play with and wanting to be with them. Love the line, “Looking like you just woke up from making songs.” Kind of a perfect song for being out on the road and away from home.
Jonathan Coulton – Space Doggity
I love me some Jonathan Coulton. The David Bowie exhibit was in Toronto while we are there. I’m not a huge fan but several of our group are and they went and saw it. There was a lot of Bowie talk and it got me thinking about this song by Jonathan. Such a sad song and a sad story. I’ve talked about it elsewhere on this blog. Listening to it a few times on this trip got me thinking that, someday, when I have the time and inclination, I’d like to create a puppet piece based on this song.
Bleu – Could Be Worse
Blue is my ‘artist of the year.’ I’ve had a song by him in my collection for awhile. A song I loved (Snow Day). I rediscovered him through a Jellyfish fan group as a member of Jellyfish sang on one of Bleu’s songs. Anyway, I love this song. Rocking, great lyrics. Good message.
Shawn Colvin – Wichita Skyline
While perusing my Twitter feed one morning I saw a tweet from Shawn Colvin with a picture of the real Wichita Skyline and it got this song in my head. Great song about being stuck in you life and unable to break out.
Dar Williams – It’s Alright
Listening to Shawn Colvin got me thinking about Dar Williams and this song. Listened to this several times while in Toronto. In the hotel and walking around the streets. THis is a great song and I’m glad I rediscovered now. Has a lot of meaning for me in this point of my life and things going on around me.
It’s time and I am changing,
Into something good or bad
Well, that’s your guess.
Something about this song just really hooks me deep inside. It’s about loss and moving on, changed, but “It’s Alright.” Listening to this song also got me onto Dar’s I Saw A Bird Fly Away. Another great tune.
Up early today. Well, earlier than in past days. Our van to the airport arrived and we bid farewell to our home for the past two weeks. Upon arrival at the airport we all dealt with the pleasures of air travel: Checking in, paying excess baggage fees, customs, security check. Once through everyone was a lot less stressed out. Brian and I had a nice breakfast/lunch. I had been starving because i hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before.
Soon we were boarded and winging our way back to Southern California. Did a lot of writing on the flight and checked out the rest of World War Z and watched most of Pacific Rim on the flight. After landing we hopped a shuttle back to where it all began, The Jim Henson lot. Goodbyes were said and I believe the general feeling was this was a really successful string of shows. Some tech bumps in the beginning, but soon it was smooth sailing. It was ALL fun.
Big thanks to our crew who do amazing things to make us look so good on stage. Juliana keeps us all on schedule, Greg gets us up and running, Brandon who got our video up and running and the local Toronto crew who kept us looking and sounding good the whole run.
Thanks to Dan Ring, our music man. Missed dancing with you as much on this tour Dan but always fun to hang out with you. Let’s compare laptops when we get them!
Big shout out to Amanda for being the besets puppet wrangler and here’s to finding a new friend! As I said before, always incredibly nice to meet someone who has that level of passion for puppetry. Thanks for all the kind words you said. Hope we meet up again soon, and I’m looking forward to seeing YOU perform sometime.
Thanks to Arnold of Westbeth Entertainment for believing in the show and always seeing to that we’re taken care of. Big thanks to Brian Henson, without whom, the show would not exist.
To my fellow puppeteer freaks, I love each and every one of you and am grateful for those laugh moments we shared…
Colleen – Our Squirrel scene will live on in the Puppet Up Hall of Fame
Ted – our pilot scene early in the run was great but you managed to pull off the most amazing puppet effect I’ve ever seen during that last Bond improv.
Peggy – Always a pleasure to be ‘out there with you.’ Loved our Flashback fun, each and every time. Never before have Kidney Stones made me laugh as hard.
Michael – Two words….List Them. Your non-sequitors during the Bedtime/Spooky story were always hilarious.
Brian – “We’ll deal with you later French Canadians” – You are an inspiring improviser to watch, so loose and free. You always kept me on my toes during the Bedtime/Spooky stories. You are a good friend. Appreciate all our talks. And thanks for introducing me to Indian Food.
Thanks to all the amazing Toronto audiences. Your suggestions, laughter and kindness will long be remembered by this Puppet Upper. I truly do hope we are back very soon.
Finally, to Patrick. Amazing director. Amazing teacher. Amazing friend. Thank you for letting Leslie Carrara-Rudolph talk you into taking a chance on me, a non-improviser, limited puppeteer, way back in 2007. These past 6 years (6 YEARS!!!) have been an incredibly journey and the most fun I’ve had….ever. Grateful for all I’ve done and hopeful there will be more/ Will gladly follow you into improv battle any day of the week.
It was an absolutely perfect trip.
Well, that’ll wrap it up for this tour. Thanks, so much, for following along with this tour diary. Feel free to stick around to see my mostly-irregular ramblings or we’ll see you back here next time there’s a tour I’m on. If you want to keep in touch with what I’m up to you can…
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Thank you, thank you, thank you and…
Woke up Saturday morning with the realization that there was only 4 shows left. End of tour blues set in hard.
I got up and did a little writing. Attempting NaNoWriMo this year. For the past couple of years I start writing and usually wind up being too busy to finish, but it always gives me a good start on something that I can work on throughout the year.
I then met up with Dan, Amanda and Brian as we were going to go get that indian food lunch special we had the other day. We walked over to the place that was supposed to be open by 1. At 1:15 they were still not open and the guy inside was ignoring our walking. We decided to take our party to the place up the street called Spring Roll. We had a delicious lunch and went back to the theatre for the first of two shows.
The Saturday Matinee crowd was just fantastic. They threw out great suggestions and the show was a total blast. We had a fun game show called Wheel of Death that was a ton of fun. One of the ‘punishments’ was death by Miley Cyrus. Ted’s interpretation of that was just way too funny.
(BREAKING BAD SPOILER BELOW)
The Alien Barbershop suggestion was Breaking Bad. My rhyme was:
Oh Walter White
Jessie was his friend
He got cancer and cooked meth
And he died in the end
Then my alien just started saying, “Spoiler Alert, Spoiler Alert!” That got a big laugh.
A really fun matinee show and a great time meeting folks in the lobby especially, superfan, Randall who is already leading the charge to get us back in Toronto! Go, Randall, Go!
Between shows, Michael, Dan and I wound up at the Indian food place which was now open for a quick meal then it was back over to the theatre for our second show.
I want to take a moment to talk about the two women on this tour, Colleen and Peggy. Colleen is just an amazing improviser. She’s so relaxed and incredibly smart. She has an ease in her improvs where she’ll just drop a hilarious little line that will just KILL. Tonight in the audience participation bit, the audience puppeteer was sort of standing crooked, with the puppets head to one side and the audience was just rolling and Colleen just bides her time and says, “Tony, is your neck broke.” Probably not that hilarious in print, but it just tore the house down and I was laughing uncontrollably in the chair. So lucky I get to perform with her. Our ‘New Choice’ scenes have been a lot of fun.
Peggy is just so much fun to be on the road with and perform with. Out of the whole class I’ve known her and Brian for the longest (excepting Patrick) and Peggy and I started in Puppet Up, roughly, about the same time. She is always so funny and there are so many memorable moments with Peggy on stage. Tonight during our ‘Flashback’ scene I just found myself smiling from ear to ear at her ‘passing her kidney stones’ screaming. I was in the scene but just laughing right along with the audience. At that moment I thought to myself, “This is the most fun job in the world.” It really is.
The crowd for the evening show was just as crazy and into it as the matinee crowd. The Alien Barbershop suggestion was YouTube.
I love YouTube
Best entertainment around
Nothing but hours of videos
Of people falling down.
Got an okay laugh. Not the strongest rhyme. But it did okay. The rest of the show was fun with, of course, a lot more Mayor Ford references that the audiences just love. Well most of them anyway.
After the show we hung out at one of the nearby pubs and just chilled. I’m really going to miss this once it’s over.
Now, to bed! Two more shows tomorrow! Gonna make them count!
November is here! So shortly after midnight I began my novel. For those that don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month where people attempt to try and write a complete novel in 30 days. I’ve attempted before and never completed it, but I have stated things that have become bigger projects later. The goal is 50,000 words in total by December 1, which works out to about 1666 words per day. So last night, again after midnight, I got about 1100 words down and then turned in for the evening.
In the morning, I got a tweet from Tyler Stewart, drummer of Barenaked Ladies replying to my query about where to find good Barbacue in Toronto. He told me of a few places, one of which was Stockyards, where Brian and I went last week. I looked up the two other places he mentioned and decided on Barque. I figured out how to get there on the subway and was off for some barbecue.
The trip out was easy and the place was easy to find. Nice little walk through the neighborhood where the restaurant is, lots of interesting shops.
The restaurant was a little trendy looking, but nice. Took a seat at the bar and was given a bucket of popcorn while waiting to order. It was the lunch menu, and if you know me, I like to order combos, but I finally decided on a brisket sandwich and then some pulled pork. I thought the pulled pork would come on the side, but they put it on the sandwhich. Didn’t phase me one bit. The barbecue was good and I had a pumpkin mousse for desert. Good stuff! Then I was back on the subway and back to the hotel to wallow in my meat coma.
After a bit I got up and continued on the novel. Another 771 words which puts me ahead. Just got to keep it up.
After writing, I practiced a little with the I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face track to get the beats down. I popped over to the theatre early to get some practice time in with the puppet too.
Tonight’s show was just absolutely amazing. The best show of the run and Patrick said one of the best shows ever. It really was a fantastic night. Backstage we could almost tell that it was going to be amazing because of the energy of the audience. Their laughter was infectious. Seriously. They were laughing, we were laughing. Everyone shone tonight and, more importantly, we shone as a team. That team included the audience as well.
So many funny sketches. The ‘What if’ of the War of 1812, the life story of Rob Ford (Toronto’s Mayor), a hilarious game show sketch, a scene where the first line was ‘Nice Pants!’, a great Bond song, the Hot Dogs recreating Annie….every sketch was just the tops. The improv was great, the puppetry was funny. Just a classic night and one I was so honored to be part of.
Alien Barbershop was okay, the suggestions was The History Of The Universe. Someone had also shouted out Easter as well and Patrick said, “Bonus points if you can work in Easter.” So my rhyme was:
There was a Big Bang
The universe started to fill.
And because it did,
We dye eggs in April.
Got an okay laugh. Not the strongest rhyme of them all, but I got them bonus points.
And tonight was just amazing because I got to do the Lady Singer in I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face and Big Java in Java. I cannot describe to you how that makes me feel. I still have a lot to learn on both, especially Face, but I got a great reaction on Face and look forward to developing it further.
After the show we took in some pub food and just basked in a really great show. We will go out there tomorrow night and try to recapture it again.
I love doing this show. Don’t want to do anything else.