Friday, January 9, 2015

Puppet Shoes and Other Things

This past weekend, the one before the one coming up, was a whirlwind. Last Friday night I helped contribute to a Guinness Record for Longest Variety Show. I know I keep going on about it, but it still blows my mind that I contributed to a victory that will be in a book I used to hog constantly in my elementary school library. After that, I performed as a part of Little Laughs at Jalopy Theatre that Sunday. Thursday was spent finalizing a writing project, and Saturday preparing for Sunday.

Getting ready for the show Sunday was slightly stressful. This was in part because I was tired from being constantly on the go, but also because an audience of kids is very unpredictable. Sometimes they are with you, but when they turn God Bless America. While this is pretty rare, it does occur. More than anything, the factor that makes me reticent about kids shows are the adults involved. Sometimes the other performers are crazy, and not in a good way. Other times the organizers want you to go through all this red tape and take themselves so seriously. Or the parents are just plain rude and think that as an adult who entertains children you are utterly stupid.

This was not the case at all with the Little Laughs Show at Jalopy. The audience was wonderful, both children and parents. Not only were the young ones engaged, but their parents were as well. The host was an awesome master of ceremonies. Sure, the kids enjoyed the show but the parents laughed as well. When the parents laugh at a kid’s entertainer, that is always, always, always a good sign. The other two acts were amazing. One woman played guitar and had a story coloring book that went along with her song. Then the magician, and a magician can go either way, was both funny and skilled at his craft.

When it came for my turn, the kids were a great audience. They were rambunctious because they were into my show, but they were wonderful. These kids were gentle spirits too. One remarked that one of my puppets seemed “mean.” I never felt Sweetie Pie Kincaid and her prankster sensibilities were mean. Still, it speaks to the fact that there has been outcry against bullying, and perhaps we are headed towards a kinder, gentler generation. I found I really enjoyed these kids, and they really enjoyed the show. Afterwards, the host teasingly told me I had a stalker.

The event made me want to do more with children. I did when I was younger. In my hometown I entertained at pre-schools and such with my children, or my collection as a British journalist recently called it. I also did a show where I read bedtime stories to children called Storytime with April and Friends. Filmed on a shoestring, it aired on public access in 36 states, 6 countries, and the world wide web. During a street performance, I actually met someone who used to label my tapes. It was kind of col actually.

This past year, I have been trying to go less blue. I wasn’t originally even a dirty club comic so to speak. However spots are late at night, plus open mics are just one big, bad filth fest of easy punchlines and then off you go. Nothing against those who work dirty, God only knows I have. Heck, a lot of those folks supported me the most. Still, after a while my act was dark blue. Then again, Otto Petersen who I admired greatly, defined blue. There is nothing wrong with blue.

Yet in a way I feel ready to try for the cleaner set. Some is that I want to do more with kids again. Some is that my career is taking me on television and I don’t want to cost the network money. Some of it is I want a new challenge and am ready for it. Then lastly, some of it is that while my beloved cabaret crowd loves blue, it’s baby blue. When I did the Guinness Show, I found the crowd responded to the better written jokes than they did at the shock humor. Note: The shock humor was used to wake them up because some of them had seen nearly 6 hours of show.

I want to be funny to both kids and adults. Richard Pryor was. While most don’t know this, he had a short lived children’s show that was cancelled. It was a disagreement over money, nothing else. Still, he was good at it. Then again, Richard Pryor defined funny then and still does now.

This past Monday these thoughts poured through my head, as well as finding my chap stick. The temperature was dropping and the new year still quite new. While all the work I did in 2014 is paying off, that year nearly killed me. I can’t do another bipolar 365. While the highs were amazing, the lows were depraved in a way I never imagined. One minute I was in heaven, and then the next wandering in the Valley of the Shadow of Death wondering when I was going to get out if ever. But it gave me humility making heaven even greater than imagined.

Then I got a facebook message. Someone working the event informed me one of May Wilson’s shoes was left at the club. I had been so wiped out that I hadn’t realized our girl had lost her shoe Cinderella style. This person, bless his soul, had been kind enough to leave the shoe in the sound booth. I called the club and they told me to swing by about 5 PM.

The woman working the front, a nice lady, cabaret type, had a good sense of humor about the whole thing. “In all the time I have worked here, you are my first puppet shoe call.” She informed me laughing. There is always a first time for everything I suppose. Only days before we had all broken a world record and now they had a lost puppet shoe. Oh the times, the times…..

As I left the club, I remembered how ten years before I had decided to go for this ventriloquist thing for throttle for the first time. On cold nights like that I went from mic to mic to mic using my food money for stage time and transportation. Sometimes I did homework when others were onstage, because if I flunked out of school I had to go home. It was my mom’s rule.

The year before had the same bipolar spirit, and I remember I had almost left New York. But I didn’t. I kept fighting. This crossed my mind as I fear in a way what 2015 will bring, because the downs of the year past nearly killed me. Then I remember I kept going ten years ago, and didn’t give up. All the hard work that young woman laid down has gotten me to this point. Things are coming together, not so much because I am good at what I do, but because I have always known who I was, worked hard, and stuck to my guns.

I am that puppet girl. My puppets are pranksters but all in good fun. Sometimes they lose their shoes. Like real children I reign them in, and just like any other family, we keep going.

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