Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Jersey Deters Me (Part II)

East Rutherford:

For some reason, it felt to me as if we were in East Rutherford NJ for two weeks. It may have been because I continued to sleep very poorly, and it also may have been that I found the people there rather difficult to deal with. Either way, I rolled my eyes and dragged my feet a little more than I like from my current perspective. I’m not regretful, because sometimes it is near impossible keep up with the pace here cheerfully, but I really am trying to do my best to stay positive.

I didn’t even truly encounter the audiences in East Rutherford until the third day there, because we started with an evening show, and the next day we had one kiddy show and one unfortunate evening pre-show for me, which did not last long (more on that in a moment). So when I finally went out for pre-show in the evening on our third night, I was taken by surprise! People were pushier and grabbier than ever before, much more persistent in their photo taking and autograph collecting, and so reluctant to leave the floor at the end of pre-show that Larry (the pre-show host) had to come rescue me numerous times with a “quick Joy, they need you backstage!” At one point, stiflingly, I became aware that I was being held by each wing and my tutu by three different people. For all their enthusiasm in approaching us, however, we had a terrible time doing the opposite. In our ring gag, we have never had such difficulty finding an audience participant; though there were plenty average, friendly looking males in the crowd. I guess something in the water in East Rutherford makes the East Rutherfordians extra-susceptible to ‘he-didn’t-do-it-so-I-won’t-either-itis’. We would choose our man, go get him, shake his hand, get the audience clapping, and he would refuse to come into the ring. Then the next guy would refuse too, and the next. The head-shakers and hand-wringers were out in full swing! Our first time out, this happened so many times that we had to give up and end the gag right there! The next day we couldn’t get anyone until Book got frustrated and yelled, “Are any amongst you MEN?” And finally one surrendered. Book has just recently begun doing his tennis racket routine on a platform, and said getting an audience member for that bit was proving just as hard. As one may guess, we exploded back into the alley in a big angry storm cloud each time.

The reason my pre-show on the second evening in East Rutherford was so short-lived was because I majestically bashed my head, and was quite dizzy. Brandon was attending a funeral in Texas for our first two days of the site, so Dustin volunteered to step in for him in the slide table routine with Eric and I. We didn’t bother rehearsing beforehand, and just submitted to the idea of it being an improvised mess. All was going well (even though it really was a mess) until one moment, when I found myself standing on top of the table, with Eric and Dustin on either side. At this point in the regular routine, Brandon and Eric do a double butt slide and I do a pirouette, spun by them sliding past. We all three looked at each other and seemed to understand that that was what would happen next, but for some reason, it did not. Dustin took the mousetrap off of his pants (that is a whole different story) and threw it on the table, before going into his slide. I went to grab it, and only realized that he was diving at the last second, just soon enough to step out of his way. This unfortunately meant that I stepped right into Eric’s way, and he quite literally swept me off my feet. One second I was standing on the table, and the next second the back of my head was hitting the floor and my feet were coming towards my face. It was amazing! The crowd gave a big gasp, and I was a little surprised at myself for being able to stand up. Sean and Ivan were watching, and they ran backstage to meet me and make sure I was ok, which was very nice of them. I was bruised and dizzy, so I got a few icepacks and sat the rest of pre-show out. I felt really lucky not to have pulled or broken anything, especially my neck, and I didn’t even wake up sore the next morning. Thank you, guardian angel! At least everyone said it looked really cool.

On Saturday, we were spoiled rotten by the CFA throwing us a delicious event called a Sugarfest. This, apparently, is a free-role for the whole cast and crew consisting entirely of desserts! After the second show we followed a bunch of arrowed signs upstairs to the event, which was well attended. This took some of us a while, because if you think about it, “This Way to the Sugarfest” is an amusing sign to take down and point at a great number of different things besides the Sugar Fest (such as the women’s showers), and many jokers seemed to have come up with that idea. Everyone ate too much, and began bouncing off the walls just before the third pre-show began. I was feeling rather hyper-active, and got myself scolded for starting a marshmallow fight with a group of older Chinese boys waiting for their cue after the first rotation.

After the last show on Sunday, Dobson came and picked Tweedy, Book, and me up in his car, and drove us to the East Village for dinner. We met Spencer, an old friend from Smirkus, and went to Veselka, which is a really cute restaurant I’ve been to a few times with my New York aunties. While we were eating, Sam Galison (also old friend, also from Smirkus) appeared and sat down at the table! I believe Dobson knew he was coming, but it was a nice surprise to us. Later, when he was done with load-out, we picked up Eric, dropped off Spencer, and drove up to the Bronx. We had a great night together pre-sleep, and a horribly cramped one when it came time to go to bed. The next morning Sam had disappeared (Eric woke up startled, saying, “Guys…I think I ate Sam in my sleep!”), but we got up leisurely, and Dobson and I went out to get all the ingredients to make crepes. While I cranked them out and we all munched, Tweedy regaled us with the details of the European circus world (of which he is quite a big part). This made us Ringlings feel quite ho-hum about our current positions, but very hopeful about the future, and what else there is out there to work towards.

That evening we headed down town to the Crane Theater, and dropped off Tweedy and Book, who were scheduled to perform in the Down Town Clown Monthly Revue that evening. The rest of us visited a delightful little vegetarian restaurant on Dobson’s recommendation, where we met Seb and Josh (Smirkos), and where I got some more Borscht. It was good, but not as good as Orest’s, and it was just plain wonderful to see Seb and Josh; it’s been a while. Then we headed back to the theater to watch the show. It was truly an all-star cast, a treat of a show, and I really, really enjoyed myself. Both Book and Tweedy got great responses. There were a lot of familiar faces, and an abundance of quality comedy. I can’t say much more without over-enthusing, but... it was thirst quenching.

This morning we all got onto the MTA and went our separate ways, which for Eric and I (Book had a PR in NY) meant coming here, to Long Island. Once we got off the train we went to meet Tweedy at a mall and walk back to our train with him, but when we couldn’t find him in the food court, we realized that we were at a different mall. Then we spent another good hour trying to find the correct mall, and finally did. Chelsea Brooklyn showed up (you guessed it… a Smirko), and took Eric to hang out, but I was just too exhausted. I walked back to the train with Brandon and Karen, one of the horse trainers. Now I am in Long Island, and my only concept of it so far is as an ever-stretching strip mall.

And my room is RATHER hot again.

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