Woke up late. Laurice and I were supposed to be leaving by 10:30am. Woke around 10:20a. Left the house around 11am. Forgot Wallet. Went back for wallet. Picked up Spero and other cast (Evan & Steve M) at 11:30. I told them 10:45am. Met them at Dunkin at 1st Ave & 116th. Spero's hood. Hope they like donuts.
Not really sure all the details about this gig. I know it is Jewish in nature. Probably Bar Mitzvah. Maybe Bat Mitzvah. Maybe a briss. OUCH. Not 100% of the exact start time.
What should be a 10 minute drive takes 40 because we were arguing about meeting so early and then being so late i missed the BQE ramp from the Grand Central Parkway. Saw some landing airplanes and realized the error.
We arrive at EAST MANOR in Elmhurst Queens at noon. Leaving cast in car I run in the building - a massive 500 seat + chinese buffet and banquet hall. Looking around, i see no sign of private party so i ask hostess (I use term liberally)
"Hi I am performing at the Bar Mitzvah. Where should I unload the sound equipment?"
"How Many in your Party?"
"I am here for Private Party"
"How Many in your Party?" - Let me put it this way - I am thinking I am in Seinfeld episode right away...
"Not sure, i am the entertainment"
"How Many in your Party?" (Getting more annoyed)
"Not sure, i am the comedy act"
"What is the Party Name" I tell name... "Name not in book you in the wrong place"
So on and so on.
"I am here for the 1:30 event. I am performing"
"Oh 1:30 you are too early. Sit over there and wait"
OK I am done. So I go back to the car. Relay this comedic episode to the cast. I realize there is a seperate entrance for a couple party rooms upstairs. I check them out. Around back, i find the DJ just arriving. At most of these events, the DJ runs the big show so I let him do the talking. We go back to the reception desk.
"How many party"
"I am the DJ for the BAT Mitzvah" (Ah HA it is a BAT MITZVAH - this guy knows more than I do!!!)
"How many in Party" (I am ready for Abbott & Costello routine)
"I am looking for the 1:30 party" (I am just cracking up inside right now)
"Oh too early, have seat over there"
"I am the DJ looking for the
"Name not in book"
"Can I speak with manager"
"NAME NOT IN BOOK" (Now there is a male host that is getting very testy.
This goes on and on. But I figure if the DJ is here, we are good to go. I have confirmed a 1:30 start time. So I bring the cast in for lunch. The buffet is huge. At $11.95 it is a great deal with Dim Sum, Lobster, Peking Duck and Sushi in addition to 100s of traditional buffet items. The quality is much better than you would expect. A few items were a little too traditional/cultural even for my pallet.
Around 1pm I leave the cast to go check out the performance space, now figured out by the DJ. The room is actually a sectioned off corner of a much bigger room - separated by only oriental screens. There is a small performance/dance space in front of DJ table. OK This is not so bad. I tell the DJ, "I am not going to bring my sound system in. It is such a small space. As long as I can use your mic for a couple MC things etc." So I run out to the car to get the keyboard.
I FORGOT THE KEYBOARD. I brought our road piano into Sweet Caroline's Wednesday prior and left it there. OH CRAP!!! So I ran to the Radio Shack down the road and picked up a crappy Casio number. Ran back just in time to start a show around 2pm. Now I can only assume the bathrooms were museum like, because all of the preteens were hanging out back there. We had to round the up for the show.
So the DJ turns off the music, but there is still incredibly loud pop music pumping from somewhere. I start to "WARM-UP" the crowd. Fun group. However, just on the other side of the wall - er um - screens - there was a preteen karaoke party with 7-8 year olds rocking out to Mylie Cyrus. And they were loud. If we had out sound system, we would have been as loud but then they would have gotten louder and then we would have gotten louder... so on... so forth... This is the first time I felt a head ache. But always the trooper, I am just going to plow forward.
We start the show with Madrigals, which no one can hear until Laurice picks up the microphone. This was especially hilarious when Laurice gave up and just started singing PARTY IN THE USA.
Next up Audience Sound Effects. So I get up the Bat Mitzvah girl and her uncle the therapist. I don't think they here me too well plus in my own anxiety I also skipped a few key points. "Are you guys ready? GREAT. OK. Of to the therapists office" So I turn to take a beat before starting the scene. As I take a breath to allow a character to take over my body - still trying to use something of good performance technique I have learned over the years - The uncle starts interviewing his niece.
"So you are in need of therapy." etc etc etc For a second, I am debating - should I let this go on. Worst case scenario it eats up some time, right? But then he says....
"Are you on drugs? What is your favorite drug? Cocaine?"
OK STOP THE PRESSES and as I go to intervene he turns to me
"So what do you like on your cocaine?" Tongue tied as I continue to internally struggle - do I run with this or put it to an end?
"Er - Um - Vanilla Icing? OK I guess I did not explain myself. We do the scene and you make crazy sound effects....." At which time we kind of proceed. The uncle kept creeping back into the actual scene. At one point I blurted out "This guy must be a sponge. You have absorbed all of your clients' crazy."
Up next we move to Miracle Ear. Steve McClarty did a great mime routine translating Laurice and Spero and together they saved the show and brought something of an audience back to life. Evan and I do a scene in a zoo where we screamed for five minute columns. One of the columns looked like chunk from Goonies. I probably should not have said "You and I should do duel Truffle Shuffles". Freeze frame was a blast. I fell face first onto the floor. It was quite chilly. After a few more songs and scenes - all rather tough to hear - we wrapped it up. At which time the kids ran back to the bathroom. Perhaps there was Cocaine in there.
Well back to the city, we had an amazing LMAO performance. The past two nights we had 30+ high school students from Canada via a wonderful tour company, EXPLORICA. They were the base for two amazing crowds. I think Laurice is preparing a number of videos from these performances for YouTube. TBA