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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Staring Role

I remember when I was on tour with Disney Live! Winnie the Pooh, some members of the cast and crew were losing their minds when we were in China. They had never been stared at so much in their lives. Anywhere we went, Chinese people would stare at the foreigners. These people had spent their lives in places where they looked like everyone else, and had spent time in countries where they could at least pass for a local if they kept their mouths shut. For me it was a field day watching the locals fall over themselves, running into each other and stationary objects to get a good gander at the six-foot tall black guy. I admit that I was also chuckling at the white guys just losing their minds, getting slightly paranoid and aggressive about people staring at them. I wanted to tell them that they'll get used to it like I did years and years ago, but I decided to keep my mouth shut so I could keep getting a free show. Kids were often the best.

I get stares everywhere I go in Japan, although it's a bit more rude in Japanese society than in Chinese society. It's pretty entertaining to see teens and college students get all smiley and "Look! Look!" when they see me. It's pretty easy to smile back at them since I find it so entertaining. When I'm working, I have an even bigger effect as a clown, since they might have seen clowns before, but never a black clown, let alone one with dreadlocks. It's a pleasant surprise for them when they learn that this is my hair and not a wig.

This past week gave me two new gems of entertainment, courtesy of younger kids. I had just finished checking out at the grocery store and was bagging my groceries. I noticed a little girl and her father walking past me and her eyes were riveted on me. Her head swiveled to stay locked on me as I smiled at her. Her father saw what was going on and then he swiftly gave her a disciplinary tap on the head, presumably for staring, for not watching where she was going, or both. I was sorry she got in trouble for her curiosity, but it was endearing all the same.

The second was also in the grocery store as I was waiting to check out. I tend to survey my surroundings instead of zoning out, seeing what I can notice and as a former girlfriend always caught me doing: practicing reading my kana. I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye as one of the kids in line behind me was dancing. I turned my head more and he stopped and froze his face in a mockingly innocent look as if he was doing nothing. I wasn't sure, but I'm sure he returned my smile as we both recognized the game he was up to. As I turned my head back, he started dancing again, but moved out of my field of vision.

Holy cow, those were great moments.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On a T-shirt

• subterfuge not art
• Love is without reason find that mean to you
• For asking joker nothing is lost
• enjoying popularity
• catch girl's heart
• the leading role of the construction

Monday, September 13, 2010

Okayama Done

38 two-show days
21 three-show days
2 four-show days

grand total: 141 shows

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Officially Coming Clean

I guess it's all right now, seeing as how the agent has known, my work partner has known, and the boss officially knows: I am not extending my contract for Kinoshita Circus.

Rehearsal day today is the beginning of the end of this leg of the journey for me. After Kobe, I'm heading back to the United States. I'll be closer to my parents, who are going through some tough times with my mom's declining health. I'll also be able to restart work on other creative endeavors and ideas that have been milling about in my head. I can continue growing and developing as a clown and performer. I can be better, stronger, funnier, and have more material at my disposal. I can continue to learn, improve, create, and collaborate. I can be closer to help my family when the need inevitably arises.

It was a difficult choice to pass on the continuation of a very good gig and I've been fortunate to have this opportunity. It makes a lot of financial sense to stay and to keep saving money. Maybe one day I could return. I don't make a practice of burning bridges. Right now, this is the right decision to make. This makes heart sense and soul sense. If I didn't make myself more available for my family, I'd have a big regret on my shoulders. I know that much.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Funny Shape

I'm in the middle of watching Funny People (before the Futurama marathon) and early on, one of the characters made a quip about Seth Rogen losing weight. He was told essentially that there's nothing funny about being fit.

It struck me more than it probably should have. I can be really sensitive. For example, someone can say anything they want about my mother, but if someone ranks on the midwest – especially Iowa – I get defensive, offensive, and a bit livid.

Anyway, I'm really against that idea that comedians, clowns, etc. have to be in crap physical shape to be funny. That's been one of the things that has really been a bit of a sore spot with me, a matter of very strong opinion. Why does someone have to be pale or skinny or fat or half ugly just to be funny? I was really happy when I saw that Hank Azaria is pumped. And I saw a clip of a local Mpls awesome improv guy with his shirt off for his Fringe show: man's been working out. Awesome! My friend Kirk is a great clown and he has a body that gives women heart attacks at first sight. Another friend of mine has been continuing her drive to be healthier and has lost a bunch of weight in the last couple of years.

Theories:
• Being "other" is a way to identify with some members of your audience
• Being "other" is a way to play on the sympathies of your audience
• Being "other" is a way to appear unthreatening to your audience

Ideally, your ability should be the determinant, but I guess everyone has to have a shtick. I think I'm shtick resistant. I have to figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I wonder what my edge is. I'm still trying to figure out what my deal is in clowning. After this year, I'm more clear on what I'm not that what I am. What I don't know is the answer to what I am. All I know is that I'll be in shape and that I have ideas. And I love eccentric dance.

Seth Rogen is great in this movie. Jason Schwartzman is doing a great job of being loathsome.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On a T-shirt

• majestic Jolly Roger
• Crocodile! Big Bite! Huge! Chin!
• performance – clowns get into the act
• cheer up – jumping around
• be infatuated with the ocean
• beats are matched
• The flame is erased
• I don't want realism. I want magic
• This is not a photo opportunity
• make globe to all outskirts
• spend the money
• Aim at success/danger zone/at the right time for eating
• always you got me rockin'

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Overheard Gem

I heard this gem from the woman one row ahead of me while waiting to disembark from the plane in Des Moines:

"I'm sorry, excuse me: I just have to stand up. I'm being a horse's patoot!"

So marvelous!

Mixed Trip

I'm in Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX) waiting for my flight back to the US. The circus is tearing down and moving to Kobe, so I'm not missing any shows. I'm missing one PR, but that's better than missing a show. I'm heading home to visit my folks. The short version is that my mom is very sick and this spring has been very bad for her – worse than normal. Now she has been diagnosed with extensive fatty liver disease and a very cirrhotic liver. This could be the last chance I have to see her alive, even though a few weeks ago I'd already told her pretty much anything I had to tell her.

I will be driving up to the Twin Cities for a day and two nights to take care of some quick stuff and will not really be able to see much of anybody. I will be able to have dinner with some friends on Thursday, but other than that, there are things that need to get done. This is not exactly a social trip.

Last night I ordered a pizza almost all by myself: about 85% of the way by myself. All in Japanese, no less! It was slow and rough, but it was done! I ordered a half and half pizza and one of the halves was available with either a tomato sauce or curry. I ordered the curry, of course, and it was delicious!