Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
When you study puppetry for the stage by looking into a mirror as opposed to a monitor, you will discover many more sides and facets to the personality that is inherent within the character, not imposed upon it. You'll see what that fairy or demon really looks like from all angles; how a twist of the head can be quizzical or admonishing or both. What does gravity do to the way a puppet without legs actually walks, rather than giving the impression that the puppets are blindly bouncing on a water bed. The more you can transform your being into what's on your arm or down the strings, the more alive the puppet will seem in the audiences imagination. Then with this vital performance skill inscribed onto your DNA, once you put your character on camera and look at the monitor, rather than just filling in the prescribed blanks, you are filled with ideas on how to best use three dimensional space as a living breathing thinking character.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I met JIMMY NELSON. . .
. . . who suggested I call WONDERAMA - - which I did. . .. . . to set up an audition, which I got.
The next week didn't get here QUIK enough.
I practiced my ventriloquism in front of the mirror for hours. I also figured I'd do my puppet act as well. This is when it pays to have a younger brother. My bro, Lowell, is six years my junior as well as my captive assistant. I'd get him up at all hours to work my puppets so I could see my puppets work. Everyone should have a serf - - except younger brothers.
I met with NORMAN BERGER (producer of Wonderama) in the lobby, and he and his assistant took us down to the basement, and for some reason FLASH! those offices really stuck in my memory. I'll tell why it matters later.
Sonny called us out front and interviewed us, finally asking if my puppet would like to throw it to the commercial. I watched the monitor as the camera pushed in. My character says "and now, here's a word from K-E- double L, O Double Good Kelloggs best to you." Sonny cracked up at what was my first blend of Art and Commerce!
I mentioned the basement office where my brother and I auditioned? Fast-forward BLIP years later and I'm doing the DJ Kat show from the self-same studio where I performed on WONDERAMA those BLIP years ago. And where is my new office? In the basement at Channel 5. I had come home to where I remembered the future to be . . .
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Here's how my trek to appearing on Wonderama began. . .
I get dragged to a CAR SHOW at the Coliseum on 59th & Columbus Circle here in NYC by a new friend I had just met in school. Never had much interest in cars (still don't) but oh well what de hell I went. Fenders, bumpers, engines = meh.
Then suddenly my eyes fell upon an oasis in a desert of tin. There was a poster bellowing:
VENTRILOQUIST JIMMY NELSON PERFORMING LIVE!
For those of you who don't know who he is, Jimmy Nelson was in the Top Tier of Classy Vents in the 50's and 60's.
. . . and JIMMY NELSON.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Soupy's humor talked up to us, cracking us up along with the crew of 50-something union lifers, which made it hilarious.Soup, in constant mental hotfoot, Southern twang dripping like Carolina molasses, gave the joke, often was the joke and made the straight man an artform. An unselfish performer, he let Clyde Adler run amuck with his myriad characters, CA getting more out of one hand and forearm than a whole company of lesser improvisational geniuses.
. . . Chuck Jones might have first been aiming at adult theatre auds but never diluted their material - when TV appeared and the audience was clearly young, they stayed smart, unleashed their inner childs and brought us up to their level using tools they invented -- no babytalk, no simplification, no explanations...teaching us puns and how a joke worked without our knowing. Soup was a comedia del arte clown for the electronic age, sans makeup, as he needed none. (but he'd be getting a pie any second) By using a blackboard for sayings of the day and other groaners, he brought the familiar schoolroom tool into a new realm -- instead of lessons, we got jokes and we absorbed them twice as fast.
Soup knew when it was time to take a break -- no narcissicist he. He'd do his bit and bang! It was time for Pookie "Hey...Boob-bee-ing" at the window, giving a hand-puppet double-take that outdid Red Skelton.
Bang! It was the hard sell con man at the front door pointing, jabbing, and finally dumping a pail of something on Soup or setting up one of Soup's baaaadddd puns.Boom! It was White Fang, a white polar bearish dog arm with an arresting speech impediment "rah-uh-row"-ing with a demented jazz scat and slapping The Soup around like a rag doll.
And of course, his alter ego Black Tooth, a black feminized "dawgie" arm whose mission in life was to shower Soup with loud, puckerized smacks of canine love mwahs.
And he broke the fourth wall as an artform, possibly creating a fifth -- we were in that room with him. Fast, fun, warm, easy and altogether smart, Soup set the bar for the hosted kid show that was never crossed. His Fosbury Flop coasted up to heights rarely seen since, over that bar and into our collective memories. A true gift from a true talent. The world just became, contrary to current global warming dogma, a colder place with the passing of this true intuitive showman with magic in each one of those stage-manager-launched pies.
Rah-uh-row. We'll miss ya, Soupy.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Lucky Stiff was a featured player on our weekly FOX series, The DJ KAT Show.
I played BRACKISH SWAMPWATER, a Villianous Ventriloquist who was after DJ Kat's job as host of the show.
Always had a soft spot in my head for dummies. . .