The scintillating life of Creative Director/ Variety Entertainer, Christian Fitzharris, and his never ending voyage to do everything in the world. ( at a respectful pace... of course)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Superheros and alien lifeforms galore!

Where could you get a cat eating alien, a modern wizard, a talking car with a guy in tight pants, a sideways driving car with a guy in tight pants, and a man and a boy traveling through time together and it NOT be creepy? ( The man and boy together not the wizard) All them were on my television set in the 1980's.

Such a plentiful landscape of characters and creativity! If the late sixties and seventies brought outside the box drug addled classic kids tv then the eighties gave us superheros and alien life forms galore. Some of my favorites were, "Mr. Merlin" with Barnard Hughes (whom I shared the film screen with in "Sister Act 2" a genuine man) The show follows Merlin as he trains a young man as an apprentice to take over the wizardry when he moves on. Another fav was "Voyagers" where we follow a muscular guy in a vest without a shirt through time as he tries to get a young boy back to his time period and they "give history a push" when it needs it. Visiting classic moments in history and helping out.
"ALF" was fun and still active in popular memory. Who could forget that sly cat eating alien formerly known as "Gordon Schumway" back on his home planet of "Malmack". He now lives with a small boy and his family in a house where he processes human foods with his eight stomachs.
"Knight Rider" was great, but "Automan" with Chuck Wagner and Desi Arnaz Jr. was all the computer themed rage. Automan had "Cursor" his erm....cursor that would create anything he needed in order to catch the bad guys!
"Whiz Kids" was another fantastic show for a kid growing up in the Silicon Valley in the 80's. The story of policeman who uses a teenage boy and his computer to catch bad guys by hacking into security systems and sprinklers systems to trap them at their own game.

This is just a selection of a few of my favorites which influenced my work in improvisational comedy for the rest of my life.
Why choose for a guest to arrive in a dinner scene when an alien could drop through the window? Why teach another dance class in a school improv when you could have a cursor build a man eating dinosaur in the room and you must fight for your life?!

The 80's represented some of the most interesting television plots around. Proven by the improvisational comedy I produce daily.

Type these show names into You Tube if you want to get reacquainted with these classics.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Comedian" the process of harvesting comedy.

If you're looking for a great documentary style peek into the obsessions of comedians and the "comic lifestyle".
Be sure to check out "Comedian" which follows Jerry Seinfeld after he's retired from his television show and re-entering the stand up comedy clubs to write all new material.

The normal process for developing successful stand up comedy set starts off with about 3-5 minutes of written jokes or stories with act outs. Of this amount of time only a handful of jokes will get a solid amount of laughter. These are "keepers" and the rest needs work. You slowly sharpen the good jokes and expand upon them to stretch out the amount of funny material. Each performance helps the comedian adjust the material according to the audience response. Soon the handful of material increases to an armful of material. Then from an armful to a bagful and so on until the whole 5 minute set is 90% to 100% predictably funny.
Jerry Seinfeld, over the years in comedy clubs and then on television, amassed a ton of solid funny jokes that he could then rely on again and again. This is what the nucleus of his hit sitcom was built upon. The success of his television show "made" him the comedy giant he is known to be today.
(Whether you like his comedy or his show or not is besides the point.)

After retiring his television show he decided to go one better and let his "golden" comedy material go into retirement as well. It is at this point that the film, "Comedian" picks up. What does a comedy giant do to recapture the creative hunger he once had? Start at the beginning and write entirely new material that is untried and unproven. A scary and brave thing to do once you've established yourself at the level he had achieved. The film shows his insecurities and creative struggle to NOT rely on any of his gimmicks of the past.

Definitely a must see movie if you are interested in the comedy process and the comic mind. (I should state for the record that the film also follows an up and coming stand up comedian as a subplot, but I didn't care for this guy and this is my blog so he has no part of it. He doesn't ruin the film at least, but I digress.)

Check it out.
"Comedian" Jerry Seinfeld.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Greg Giraldo Rest in Comedy Heaven.

When I got notice of Greg Giraldo dying I felt I had to write a few words out of respect. I will point out from the start that I have never met Greg, but he has won my respect following him over the years through his television appearances.
On the stand up circuit Greg has been active for many years, but it is his consistent delivery of killer material on the “Comedy Central Roasts” series that has built a following for him that continued to grow. The team of Jeffrey Ross and Greg Giraldo on any roast is the A-list of harsh comedy writing that makes every appearance one of the best anyone’s ever seen.
With a fearless attack on stereotypes, rumors, habits, and lies he has crafted some of the funniest harshest truthful material on the comedy scene.

Vintage Greg Giraldo:

“Larry the Cable Guy, this is exciting. I have never roasted a fake character before. Maybe next year we can roast Sponge Bob Square Pants…Larry, you gravy sweating cousin fucker.”
“Jeffrey Ross, how fat do you plan on getting? You’re like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Glutton.”
“Gregory Hamilton, you’re like “Tang”. You’re dry , you’re orange and nobody’s given a fuck about you since 1968.”

Greg represented the unapologetic raw commitment to a joke that is the breath of life in the ever increasing politically correct culture we are smothered by.
Let Greg Giraldo be remembered for his work.

“Hasselhoff, your liver is so shriveled, black, and dead if you put your ear to your side you can here it go, “What you talkin’ bout Willis.”

It was an honor to discover you BEFORE your death. Unlike Mitch Hedberg.

May you both rest in the eternal comedy heaven where everyone laughs at themselves and even harder at those around them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The "Neo" writing device and my upcoming" Tell All" book!

As coerced by the writing magazine, I researched and purchased a writing device called the “Neo” by Alpha Smart.
It is basically the writing version of the Kindle. Rather what the Kindle is to reading the Neo is to writing.
A simple dedicated device to output writing and not be distracted by the internet or social networking sites.
Just simple typing and either uploading into word processor of choice or directly plugging into printer and printing as a stand alone. This device runs on three AA batteries per year on average and weighs very little so I can take this solid little helper anywhere. The Neo has really multiplied my output. This is the first blog to be written on the device so we’ll see how easily it goes, but as far as writing lyrics and chapters the Neo is superb.

On a writing related note I have completed four chapters of my upcoming book about ME. My favorite subject! Publishers are already interested. Finally people can access the nitty gritty bizarre development of my life in ways that websites, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, music, satire, and My Space status updates never could. Growing up as an undiagnosed hyper active child driven to entertain friends and family on car rides, in living rooms, and on small stages all over Maine and the Silicon Valley. Stories of religions and cults of the world! Sex magick Orders and blood sacrifices! Tales of voodoo rituals on tour with Cirque du Soleil as well as my time as a Christian evangelist in Los Angeles ending in a visit by the S.W.A.T team and a bomb destroying robot!
Noam Chomsky, Amazing Johnathan, Joey Buttafuco, and more!
Step right up and reserve YOUR copy! Choose your own alias for the book or I’ll choose one that is less flattering for you.
Coming to an Adult Superstore near YOU!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Look! Up in the sky...an aerialist flies!

Pendulum Aerial Arts has been growing like an artistic snowball for the last fourteen years in the Portland area. Suzanne Kenney has worked to nurture this company from the ground up...er...sky down? None the less, this work is paying off and nothing is more representative of this blossoming than the company's upcoming show, "High Art: A Surreal Portrait of the Soul" coming August 19 thru the 22nd to The Portland Art Museum.

I just returned from Portland where I enjoyed a two week residency collaborating with Suzanne and the artists of Pendulum, as a director of Story and Character work. I learned a lot during my time in the Pacific Northwest. I discovered that you can create an incredible amount of material in a short amount of time, under the right circumstances. Those circumstances in this case were a serious group of young aerialists, contortionists, and acrobats ready to trust a clown and comedian in pushing their comfort levels as performers and challenging themselves with goofy exercises designed to access the creativity they don't regularly use in their chosen skill.

By the time I left we had a strong story line with a nice arc and some well defined characters. The venue for this show is incredible and if you are in Portland, this show is a "must see". While I was frequenting many of the restaurants in the downtown area there were so many people excited about Portland's own Cirque style show. Local communities really appreciate supporting their own and I am glad I could be a part of the fun!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Poetry.

Poetry is always there to replenish me when I need it.
It can be grabbed at any time and injected like a much needed medicine to a quaking man.
Charles Bukowski introduced me to the versatility of poetry. He was dead at the time, but he didn't seem to complain about it.
Regarding poetry, Bukowski once said in an interview (and I’ll have to paraphrase since I couldn’t find the correct track out of my albums of his work)….Poetry is a kind of fancified way to scream a little in a self indulgent style.

But that’s what’s nice about it. You discover different poets and their styles and you sort out a menu to your own tastes. How do you want to feel? Read and invoke that state.

My personal menu is: Bukowski, for real life grit and unflinching truth.
Kerouac, for a verbal rollercoaster that may or may not end when you get back to the boarding area and it may continue backwards or descend down through the floor to a whole new ride.
Rimbaud, whets my appetite for luscious passion and thick dark ruby red blood wine on the lips of my lady.
Sylvia Plath, can form verbal pops and truncated stops that are fun to read, like all great poetry, out loud.
Whitman paints great visions and Yeats offers light fare for mystic minds.
Pound is good in doses to be thought about later and Herman Melville’ s, “Moby Dick” is NOT poetry, but I swear it can be read aloud and eaten one bite at a time like a hearty meal and you’d swear it was poetry by the end.

So since, my friend pointed out that it’s National Poetry month, I thought I’d give the gift of referring some of my favorites so that they may be enjoyed by others.

I once performed on a reality television show, “Steve Harvey’s Big Time!” (on the notable network, “The WB”) competing for $10, 000. I was performing one of the variety acts we did in for the Crazy Horse, Paris. The shoot lasted all day and was exhausting. The attitude was degrading, as you would expect being “judged” by Pauly Shore. Our professional world renowned act ,which was the “taste” of festivals and shows in Europe, was being called, “The stupidest thing I’ve ever seen” by the dregs of circa 1990’s even 80’s television “personalities”.

At the shows peak, I was in the position to win the $10, 000, but I was exhausted, irritable, and consoling myself with the warm thought that EITHER I was about to win $10,000 OR I was about to be released back to my hotel room to regain my soul.

I was ousted by a man with firecrackers strapped to his chest and I celebrated my release by jumping down off the couch ( since I was a miniature Elvis Presley) and made my exit mouthing curse words and derogatory epithets against the successor and all witnesses laughing in all directions.

I was free and in much need for quality soul replenishment.
The town car drove me back to the beautiful hotel room at the Kodak Theater where they hold the Academy Awards every year, and I drank in the sweet filling meat of Jack Kerouac. Page for page as I read I was reminded of the beauty of life and it’s depth. And page for page I was baptized back into the real world. My contribution being degraded was just a night terror. Passing like a few dark clouds on a sunny day.
And poetry was there when I needed it most to remind me that I am more than any one project. Thanks poetry. You made me whole again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Everyone's a Superstar in Little League!

I read an interview with a father who just relocated his family from Texas to New York. His son is in the highest division of Little League and the parents attended a meeting to go over the upcoming season with the coaches. The voice on the phone with the father said, “What is your child’s skill level? So we know where to place him?”
“Isn’t there a draft?” his Texas accent marked him as an outsider already.
“No. We’ll go over all the details at the meeting this Wednesday night”.

Wednesday night the father was one of about two hundred parents in attendance to get the details of the new Little League season.
The one detail that stuck out he almost missed.

Wait, they are not going to keep track of standings for anybody’s record for the season. “What?” the father mumbled to himself and stood up at the Question and Answer session to clarify.

“Did I misunderstand? Did you say you’re not going to keep track of anyone’s standings for the season in the majors division?” he asked.
“Yes” the coach answered succinctly.
“Why?” he countered. “Like that’s my question, why?”
“We want to make sure at the end of the season that everyone all our teams are basically 500” he stated.

“Wait a minute…so your goal for everybody during the course of the year, for my son included, at the end of the year is total mediocrity? You want them all to be 500 at the end of the season? That’s the goal.”

“Well we don’t put it like that” the coach lobbed back.

“I’m sure your don’t, but that’s what your striving for, complete and utter mediocrity. Well, that’s what the playoffs are for. Who’s the regular season for? What are you doing all year by teaching them that competition is not important, that they shouldn’t be striving for excellence, that they’re supposed to get better?” he asked.

He looked around the room for one other parent to join in, in support, and no one moved. He was alone on this one. He is the outsider. In Texas they even keep track of the score during tee ball games! Tee ball. Where, in some states everyone hits a home run off the tee and if you strike out at first they let you stay on the base as to not hurt your feelings.

As I read this interview I couldn’t help thinking to myself.
What kind of world has been forming?
Was I the last generation to operate by “rules” and traditional “heartless” forces of logical competition and common sense?

And we wonder why our teenagers and twenty somethings grow up to be self-centered arrogant emasculated prigs? Tisk tisk, me thinks.
I can recall every spanking and discipline I received as a teenager and can honestly say, “Yep, I deserved that.” I was being loud and disrespectful thinking I was funny and I virtually asked for the consequences I received.
And I grew from them.
I needed to be pushed to take responsibility for my own actions.
And I have.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Another round of goat's milk, garcon!"


There are a lot of great places to buy fresh vegetables and meat for the table with a strong discount compared to the grocery stores in our area. Pittsburgh's cost of living is reasonable and the surrounding farms bring in fresh food of all kinds making living here all the more pleasurable.

My fiance has a treasure map of locations with the freshest foods at the lowest cost. You just have to know what to get. And where. In order to maximize the savings.
Meat can be procured just out of town by a butcher that is supplied by the local farms. The Co-op, five minutes from our home, has great herbs and seasonings of all kinds including "Thai" and "Jamaican" which I swear can be used in place of agent orange for chemical warfare by taking your breath away once exposed to the air and imbedding microscopic pepper powder down your throat causing you or anyone else who passes down the store aisle to cough and sneeze for minutes on end. But when rubbed into vegetables or meat..c'est magnifique!!
We have Farmers' Markets all over Pittsburgh where you can get goat cheese, goat milk, as well as homemade jellies from the Amish farmers who bring them in from their farms in rural Pennsylvania. There's also great veggies, so crisp and fresh they are like eating your way through a vegan version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory gone Amazon forest style! Crunchy giant carrots and fresh plump tomatoes. Chris has been randomly picking untried vegetables and learning how to throw them together and serve them up with an assortment of presentational formats.

She's been cooking everything from scratch using the ingredients from our city wide treasure hunt.
Fresh carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Raw veggies from the farms. Organic teas.

We are even taking a class with "Grow Pittsburgh" http://www.growpittsburgh.org/growpittsburgh/
and learning to garden our own food in our backyard. I didn't know that there were so many ways to grow food. Even if you live in an apartment complex!

Now that the pantry is full and so are our bellies...we can focus on creating the projects we want and the life we want to live.
"Another round of goat's milk, garcon! Merci."

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Acidic Astral Waterworld?

A lot of my dreams involve my work.
The nightmare is usually stressful and drawn out.
Horrifying in a completely mundane and repetitious way.

When I worked for Crazy Horse, Paris at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas,the reoccurring dream was getting through the never ending people and casinos to get to my show on time to perform. This would repeat , but my dream self would never get wise to the fact it was just a dream and stress out every time.

The last three nights have progressed from tedious to absurd.
Dream One: “The Touring” nightmare- Waiting for the elevator on luggage day , but there are only two elevators and everyone else is already done packing and I haven’t started yet.

Dream Two: I have to go onstage in a few minutes and I have little make-up, no hat ,and no shoes , but…I think I can pull it off….

And last night, Dream Three: Hanging out at an apartment and I’m led out to a bar where people are chugging beer in a dark room laughing with music and I go into the restroom (washroom for you Canadians) and it is customized with a lot of black stone urinals of all shapes and sizes and my friends are doing urine tricks peeing in two or three different directions like an acidic warm water show as might be seen at an old “Bullwinkles” restaurant in Santa Clara, California or the Bellagio fountain symphony in Las Vegas.
I tried to tune out the mist filled air and find a private place to finish my business.

Everyone one of these dreams had more than twenty people from KOOZA in them.

THE MORAL TO THE STORY: Living, traveling, working, eating, partying, and surviving on tour the last three years with a couple hundred people makes an impression on you as a full organism. You can shake it off daily, but you have to admire the levels of subconscious experience that the brain has undergone the last few years. You can move forward in your daily life, but there may be tracers and flashbacks that surface unexpectedly.
And as Randy Quaid said in “National Lampoons’Christmas Vacation” when the dog was humping his leg, “It’s best to just let’em finish”.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Watchmen"...what a pile.

The good thing about NOT seeing any movies over the last four years on tour with Cirque du Soleil is that now that I am off tour I can rent the movies at the library. One film I wanted to see was "Watchmen" based on the graphic novel.
When it was about to be released there was great anticipation. A slew of graphic novels turned cinema have had great success over the years. "Sin City" being one of my favorites. ( I also like to stay current with pop culture references to use in my improvisation as needed. Maybe I can throw in a reference or two that will make a head turn or get a savvy chuckle.)

"Watchmen" was annoying from early on in the film.
The overkill use of cliche music from the era started becoming more offensive as the movie trotted on. But I guess you need to beat people over the head so they know what time frame the film takes place in.

The main offense?
I hate movies that introduce characters late in the film. "Watchmen" is a never ending character introduction through the whole thing.
"But, Christian..." critic says in a tiny voice "you need to learn who the characters of the "Watchmen" superhero group are to understand the story." Yes, I do Captain Obvious, but there are many ways to do that without starting the whole story from the beginning over and over again! This is this hero and here's how he was created. This is this guy and he suffered this tragedy and now he can do this cool stuff...sheesh. A lot of films introduce multiple characters by putting them all in a situation which shows what they're about and we move on! Not in "Watchmen" though! Nope.
It's a bunch of mini-bio documentary pieces slapped together with a pop music through line and the ever over used nuclear war threat. (Which looking at daily news headlines...won't be going anywhere soon in entertainment mediums.)

Thankfully they spared the back stories of three of the remaining "Watchmen" to get on with the movie.

I haven't read the graphic novel ( I tried, but fiction is a struggle for my ADHD to get through) ,but the film has scenes taken directly from Science Fiction successes, Robert Heinlien's "Stranger in a Strange land" to "The Matrix".

And finally...it all comes down to the omnipotent "Dr. Manhattan", an emo nuclear superhero who can do anything in the world except NOT be a big passive aggressive wussy. And "Adrian" , a metro sexual brainiac who flaunts his intellectual superiority like a Level 200 Dungeons and Dragons Master at a POG convention in 1993 because unlike his POG conventioneers, HE has statistical skills honed from years in his parents basement drinking Jolt and eating pizza hut.

So Nuclear Emo and Metro Faux Hawk get into a slap fight and Faux Hawk reasons with Emo about the logic behind his plan so he can save his silky smooth skin from being harshly a braised in a fight.

Finale? Humans are stupid and can’t be trusted to decide the fate of their own planet so we will kill a million to save a billion. At least Rorschach kept his integrity.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The esoteric meaning of, "See ya later chumps!"

As I sit here in my "Hemmingway" gazebo on a wicker chair enjoying the balmy breeze of PIttsburgh sipping a mojito waiting to take in a movie in my living room, I think about the fact that in my old job I would be doing a great amount of work and sweating today...for no money.

In tribute to my fellow Kooza comrades, I will abstain from bringing in an income today and try my best to rest as much as possible unencumbered by pads for the knees or maquillage for the face.

Let my cosmetic-less cosmogony cast off the debasement of my bodily form and bring me face to face with the macrocosmic peace that resoundingly shouts to all limitations, "See ya later chumps!"

With that I bid you, "Merde!" and broken legs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's a "Shriner"?


Some people have seen Shriners in parades driving tiny cars or wearing their emblem the red fez hat which makes them noticeable in any situation, but many do not know the origins of this fraternity.

In 1870 a group of Freemasons in Manhattan, NY would meet for lunch and fellowship. They formed a club dedicated to fun and fraternity to balance the austere work of self advancement performed in the Masonic Lodge. They took it upon themselves to collect money and donate it to a charitable cause. In time they wanted their own organization to focus their funds into to help children in need of medical operations. Children born with clef lips, spinal problems, and those harmed in burns are all given the opportunity to live a more full life through medical enhancement and surgeries paid for by the Shriners of North America.

My introduction to this great fraternity came after I had already been active in Freemasonry for seven years. I was initiated through the "Hot Sands" Ceremonial in the particularly hot sanded Las Vegas, Nevada in 2005. I donated my time in the day on weekends to getting the word out for the Shrine by performing in the parades in the local Vegas community and also entertaining children at the clinics to be diagnosed for treatment at one of the Shrine hospitals.
These clinics were challenge because of the varied emotions swimming around the doctors offices during diagnosis. Emotions run high, but spending one on one time with the children doing magic tricks and teaching them to juggle keeps their minds off the stress and uncertainty of such a serious condition. The parents enjoy the mood being lightened as well and it takes some of the heavy load off their shoulders. It is intense though. Seeing the bright positivity in the eyes of a five year old who has had her face, literally melted, is a difficult audience to make laugh no matter your experience level. You want to cry yourself , but you are there to help the rest of the people NOT be emotional. It is a difficult balance, but well worth the effort and time.

Being back in a community like Pittsburgh allows me to enjoy the reciprocation the Shrine offers the world and I love it!

(Incidentally, my hat in KOOZA is a small yellow fez which I suggested. I tried to make a small red fez in 2005 for the parades with the Shriners , but alas my crafting efforts were all for naught. In 2007 the hat was finally done correctly except for the color, but that's okay the idea is there and it was created as a literal, "hat tip" to the Shriner organization.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Crystal Penis is Energized by Swami for Easter.


Today we made a pilgrimage to the mountains of West Sunbury in Pennsylvania and witnessed the consecration of a shiva lingam by a Swami from Mysore, India. His name is Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji and he makes this tour through North America once a year. He is a great Sage who is world-renowned for mystical music compositions as well as for uplifting humanity through Healing and Meditation concerts. This years event was attended by devotees from Ontario, Canada, New Jersey, New York, Alabama, North Carolina,

We got to the retreat center just before Swamiji arrived and immediately performed a wedding for some of his disciples. Then he blessed the sacred rock and proceeded into the temple to perform the energization ceremony of the shiva lingam (crystal penis). Why a phallic crystal? To symbolize consciousness in its primordial form; the eternal energy from which all creation emerges. This symbolic oval shape is a reminder of the underlying, unifying force of all creation, without beginning or end. Since God/Source Energy/Brahma/Allah is everywhere present, then God is inherent within all, including rocks, nature and naturally within the rare gift of the crystal Shiva Lingam.

We chanted "Om Na Shivaya" with hundreds of Swamiji's disciples and received blessings from this Master from Mysore.
I tried to get a few pictures, but the iPhone is not ideal for long range photography. Zoom ins and cropping paid off in the end.

The children did a wonderful short performance opulently dressed as deities and demi gods from Hindu lore. My favorites were Krishna and Radha as well as a small hyper active child acting like a menacing Kali. Kids put red ink on their hands to represent blood from the battles documented in such classic Vedic texts as the Mahabhrata.

People pounded plentiful platefuls of prasadam/
And ate cake created and baked-
A lot of flour was devoured.
(That's what happens when you mix a metaphysical day and Kool Keith on earphones...and you're a rap artist and blogging.)

We touched the crystal shiva lingam and received turmeric roots to fight skin diseases! Woo hoo!

All in all fun times in the mountains with crystal phalluses and great people.

Happy Easter!










http://www.dattaretreatcenter.org/

Friday, April 2, 2010

"I live in a "dry" city?"

"Is this a joke?", I ask myself.
Is this possible? It seems legit.

Of all the places I could have moved. I moved from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Las Vegas. Sin City. Where what happens stays.
And I moved to the borough of Wilkinsburg in the city of Pittsburgh in the state of Pennsylvania.

How can this be a "dry" city? I can cross the street and drink at four or five pubs ON MY WAY to the beer store at the corner. It’s not a “dry” city. It’s a “dry” borough.
“What the heck is a borough?” I grew up in California. We don’t have boroughs.
I thought a “borough” was a nickname for a part of town like, “Polish hill” or “Chinatown”.
Not so….poor niave, Christian.

A borough can be many things to many countries or areas. My borough, Wilkinsburg, has it’s own government and laws which in this case includes a restriction against bars.

When you cross the street from my house you are in the city of Pittsburgh.
I reside in the borough of Wilkinsburg by a few feet.
Wilkinsburg has been alcohol free since 1871 when it separated from Pittsburgh to maintain religious integrity. It took the name, “The Holy City” and declared that no bars would be allowed within borough limits.

So let me get this straight:

My name is Christian. I live in “The Holy City”.
My house number is equivalent to “Satan” in Hebrew Numerology.

A perfect balance of light and dark. Yin and Yang. City and borough.

Learn more about where YOU live at the following website! http://www.city-data.com
Maybe you live in a dry borough too and we can be booze free borough buddies.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Well, the excitement of my final day is behind me and I enjoyed a relaxing day of downtime today.

How was my plan executed after my blog on Sunday? I leapt into the day with full force arriving hours early to formulate my plan for the attack upon the two shows. "Chaos should be pre-planned to maximize implementation." I warned the questioning eyes scoping the paper I was sketching upon.

I had two shows and many "open spots" to inject improvisation and/or "quotes" or references. I wanted to use every opportunity.
The first show, a matinee with 50% of the venue filled, was a lower than lackluster family audience which I ignored (rightfully so judging by their attitude or lack thereof) in order to WILL them through my version of KOOZA. I hit my marks and had a great time offering my co-workers a "who's who" of references from the beginning of the show. Some references even preceded our soft opening in April 2007 and took the one person in the audience who would know the reference, back to November 2006 and our cabaret at the Lion D'or in Montreal.

I cleaned my loge (fancy for make-up table that folds up) and jumped into the second show. This show, I had the honor of the presence Joshua Zehner (co-creator with me from the original trio). His attendance was a real charge of fun for me and helped put a stamp on the exit of the final original clown of KOOZA. My wonderful lady was also there to say,"Farewell" to the show which was a challenge to see through, as touring is always a complicated manner when family and relationships can become strained very quickly under the pressures of even the "simplest" things on tour.

That final show I relaxed and let go and just had a great time. Drinking in every moment with my co-workers, artists and crew all. I had been nervously teary eyed thinking of what my final show would be like over the last year, but the real moment that grabbed me unexpectedly was when the band was taking their bow and they all looked at me and did my trademark thumbs up/ nervous smile , "Eh!". This made me teary and fast!

I did my best and saw the rest of the ritual rite of passage through. Receiving my official farewell flower bouquet and custom picture of the cast and crew of KOOZA. Everyone was so warm and kind both on the internet (if they were away) and in person at the tent. Those sentiments will burn warmly in my heart forever.

We broke down the insides of the artistic tent for tear down and we all went our individual ways with my before pre-show ritual chant echoing in the Del Mar parking lot: "See you later chumps!"
And this time it was for real.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kooza standoff! The final chapter.

Usually I write my blog about the previous day. This time...all eyes are ahead.
Today is my final day with my show KOOZA and sleeping was restless last night. I awoke early thinking of promises I made to people and seeing them through at the last minute.

I have more to follow up on, so I will make this blog brief as well, but here's my plan for the day.

I have coined the term, "Satisfactory Sunday" to denote, as an artist, pulling all of the energy that's left from a 9-10 show week and harnessing it UP to a satisfactory level for the last two shows of the week. As artists of Cirque du Soleil, we are not only skilled to a world class level, but expected to put out the most energy we can on a consistent basis. Again and again. Past the point of exhaustion and beyond a normal performers comfort zone. This has made me stronger and inspires me for the future...but NOT the point I am making now.

Today I will not be doing a "Satisfactory" job. I will do a "Satis-FYING" job. Because for me, I do nothing half assed. And I intend to see this thing through to the end and go out full bore on my own terms. This job has been blood, passion, tears, laughs, tears, exhaustion, and beyond. Today will be as fun as I create it to be.

Improvisation. No holds barred. And sharing time with a great team of individuals who have been here all along.

Let "Satisfying Sunday" begin!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My final "Date Night" with KOOZA!

Well yesterday marked my final "Date Night" performance with KOOZA. I spent the day with a strengthening performance choice. Last month I did the pre-show with only the help of a ticket. Let me explain. The "Obnoxious American Tourist" character has five different props. What I found over the last few years since creating this character in 2007 (2006 really cause most of the work was done in my audition in March 2006).

More props = More material easily utilized in creating a scene.

Less props = More need to improvise and actually create with less.

Doing the pre-show with only a ticket requires more effort than a cell phone and camera to distract and use to get out of situations etc.

Yesterday I did both pre-shows using zero props improvising all material. Result? I was more engaged with the audience around me and the other performers because I couldn't hide in the props. (My co-hort Jimmy pointed this out.)
Other goals I've had in the past during pre-show?

1) Cross the whole tent in the second to the last row from one end to the other. Check.
2) Avoid spot light operators from noticing me for as long as possible. Check.
3) Push aggressive guest as far as I can to stand up for myself as a comedian and let him know he's in MY house. Check.

And my usual goal...annoy as many persnickety senior citizens as possible. Double check.

And for my last Clown Magic I lap danced a nun sitting next to a priest. Check.

A large portion of both clown acts was spent by me trying to mess with the sound guy as well.
Can you feel the love?
I can.

2 shows to go!

Keep it KOOZA.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Michael's "All American Day!"

After our success in showing our Swedish friend Tijuana, "How could we follow it up?" we thought to ourselves. What else could we offer to show the experience of America? Granted Michael has been on tour throughout the U.S on and off since 2007,but sometimes touring life leaves details of real life out of the mix.

"Guns!" we gleefully exclaimed. There are few guns in Sweden and arms of the pistol/handgun variety are often banned because they are not used in hunting for food.

With that we told Michael we would take him on an "All American Adventure" the following day and he immediately got excited about what we may have in store for him. We met up at high noon and hopped onto our trusty white steed (in this case a rental Dodge Caliber). Reading the wind and tracing tracks, as our ancestors may have in the old west, we made our way to Walmart an American treasure of infamous reputation like that of and Wild Bill Hickock. Rushing to the hunting and fishing section we were disappointed to find there were no 9mm cartridges. Only 12 gauge shotgun shells.

To the gun store! Michael appeared wide eyed over the glass counter containing all manor of handgun machinery. 9mm,357 magnums, 22 Colts, and mini little purse guns from the 30's and 40's which particularly held his attention. Sure they only hold five bullets, but it would fit in a clown nose. We pointed out the selection of pistol grip shotguns and wicked looking black rifles and pulled him out the door, ammo in hand, for our next destination.

The "Amercian Shooting Center Indoor Range" would be the setting for the mountaintop initiation of our Swedish brother.
Visibly nervous about what to expect, Michael was quickly given a quick interview by me for my video camera and we made our way up to the counter to order our firearm. The Glock 17: a 9 millimeter gun would be the perfect guru for our experience. This 9mm handgun is common in law enforcement as well as criminal activity and would therefore be a splendid balance of the forces of light and dark for our adventure ahead.

The woman behind the counter was very excited to hear we had brought a Swedish person to experience the feeling of self defense and power related to gun ownership and the fun of shooting practice. Eye protection in place and ear covered we made our way through the sound locking chamber into the shooting area itself. I placed the paper target and showed Michael how to load the clip and take aim. Shots echoed throughout the building from all of the other lanes, which were full this day.
In no time at all this entertainer who had never really SEEN a gun much less fired one, was shooting with accuracy and breathing deep the sensation of strength and adrenaline which accompanies a great day at the shooting range.

(For the record Michael likes to shoot in the heart whereas I am more of a head man myself.)

No time to rest on our laurels now! We headed to our next location. Bowling!
Yes, I know bowling is not distinctively American, but the iconic stereotype of a pudgy white American couple in matching shirts, pants, and shoes drinking beer suitably fills our needs for the day.

Michael introduced us to a strange technique of bowling where he runs down towards the line and eventually falls sliding on his chest down the lane releasing the ball at the last second. ( I am still not sure this is an actual Swedish technique or just the effect of mixing adrenaline from shooting firearms with alcohol and bowling balls.) We each got a few strikes and returned to our habitation for more pizza and beer capping off our wonderful day.

It can be summarized as spoken by Michael himself: "Today I learned that shooting a gun is just like bowling except the ball is smaller and (I added) you aim for a piece of paper that looks like a human as opposed to small pins."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tijuana, Mexico 2010

I haven't been to Tijuana since 1998. Today I went with my girl and Michael the pickpocket from KOOZA. I remember walking over the border and having food and beers and buying leather beer holsters and seeing how dirty everything was.

Today our goal was relaxation and the joy of introducing an entertainer from Sweden to a California classic: TJ.
Now Monday is not the "party day" for twenty somethings to guzzle tequila and hit the strip clubs and the whole beheading on the Texas border has people skittish. But really. What has ever happened in Tijuana? More Mexican drug wars happen in Arizona than in Mexico!

Everyone will be happy to know TJ is the same. Monday was quiet.
It's hard to NOT look like you don't know where you're going when you are the only backpack wearing Caucasians on the streets and every street vendor is beguiling you with sunglasses and pictures of Homer Simpson as Scarface.

The first thing our Swedish friend noticed was how "interactive" the vendors and restaurant hawkers were in getting our attention to turn us into their shops.

"Come on in! We have all kinds of things you don't need."

I recommended Michael to pretend he's in a virtual reality video game where he entered his personal info and even the taxis pull over and say, "Hey want a ride amigos?" We found a nice place (attached to a hotel) so it MUST be healthier!
The only thing repelling me from this nice place was the blaring mariachis who seemed to be torturing a small family by the looks on the family's faces. We chose health over auditory relaxation and then spent the duration of our time banishing would be entertainers with a firm, but kind, "No musica. Gracias."

We had a delicious meal and many margaritas (of low alcohol content) for a nominal fee.
After our meal we took a pleasant walk around the neighborhood and the less tourist driven areas where we were able to buy some curios and yummy Mexican Coca-Cola which tastes sweeter than that in the U.S.
And we soon made our way past the tequila deals, Sombrero Porky Pigs, and Viagra vendors back to the border. I must say TJ is cleaner now than it was years ago. We probably saw five other Americans in the downtown area itself.
We did have to wait in line for Michael's I-94 to be replaced by a nice border agent behind the counter whose main question to Michael after knowing he's an international entertainer was, "Do you know any jokes?" (This made me think of memorizing a horrendously offensive joke to use only on airplanes when someone inevitably says, "You're a comedian...tell me a joke!")

After the nicest border agent got us through to the next level the final checkpoint person asked complicated questions to me like ,"What do you get with V.I.P tickets for Cirque du Soleil?". Answering that we were back in U.S.

"It's so nice to be back on this side." Michael said.
Mission accomplished.
Our friend was given the great TJ experience and we had a relaxing time.

TJ was fine, but now that we have to wait in a security line like at an airport it is NOT the care free drinking and party place that it once was. Worth the trip? Only if you're taking a Swede.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Tweet with Cirque du Soleil, beware of the Clowns"

(This is a repost from Twittamentary.com the Twitter site dedicated to the upcoming film about Twitter.)


People come to see my show with Cirque du Soleil, "KOOZA" and they Tweet before,during, at intermission, and afterwards. I am one of the three clowns in the show and we often read what people are Tweeting about the show for a laugh. The show is phenomenal so most comments are positive. We also use audience members in our act and our volunteers sometimes tweet their experience or post pictures on Twitter.
It's weird, to me, randomly picking a person out of 2,500 people and when you've sent them back to their seats and the show has finished, reading their Tweets or knowing their names! (I'm still adjusting to this- I like the anonymity..)
Recently someone who was watching the show put up on Twitter how incredible it was during the show. We read it and saw his other Tweets were entertaining and passed it around.
This guy has a small group of friends, (under 30 followers) obviously close friends from school, and now he has opened himself up to a huge network of circus performers and artists only because he typed something about the show. In some cases people don't "Follow" you they just read what you write by bookmarking your page. (So be-careful what you posting to an "intimate" group...because with Twitter the world may be watching.
By the way, in the second act of the show in the clown act I quoted one of his funny Tweets word for word at a silent moment in the act. I still wonder if that one random guy heard my direct interaction for him out of 2,500 people watching that night. Truly interactive technology and state of the art comedy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Skill of the day"

Lately, I have been choosing one skill a day to work on or try to learn. You Tube is very helpful for this practice.
This can be as simple as learning to tie a strange knot (which I know sounds like a barrel of fun) or twirling a hat which can always be used to attract the victim of your love. (Note the word,"hat" not "cat". Twirling a cat may attract the wrong KIND of person. Practice with discretion.)

Origami roses are useful. Or making Alexander Hamilton appear to be smiling or frowning on a $20 bill (as taught to me by Portugese Magician and Balloon Artist, Sebastian Ricou). A friend from my high school recently told me she still remembers the bouquet of balloon flowers I made her for her birthday almost twenty years ago.

These little skills are flourishes to add to any situation for quirky fun or used in theatrical productions to add a nuance to any scene or character.

FACT: The reason people enjoy great actors like Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando are the choices they make. The strange non sequitur choices that should not normally go together ,but feel so right. Like deep fried Twinkies or those salty sweet chili powder candies from mexico which I definitely DON"T have a taste for. Small tricks and parlour flourishes of all kinds enhance life whether it's lived on film, onstage, or on the stage of life.

Pick a small skill and try it out for yourself.

Business instead of pleasure.




(Picture above is Guy Laliberte, Cirque du Soleil owner not the President of Cirque.)

Missed blogging the last couple days due to work. Between rehearsals and visits from Cirque du Soleil management types like the President of Cirque today, little time for blogging and any internet presence. We have also been training my replacement to go into the show this weekend so relaxation and privileges like blogging will have to wait.

FYI: The annual President's meeting went well and sushi was served in the kitchen. It was delicious.

The only relaxation I seem to get now a days seems to come from the brief minutes during the show when I can read Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" on my Kindle. A great read and cinematically written. His writing keeps improving with each book. Very nice.

It was nice having a check in from Cirque owner, Guy Laliberte, now that he has returned from space and is watching his shows closely. We had great show tonight with an audience volunteer who looked like a cartoonish version of Ronald Reagan. The President seemed to enjoy it and told me he wishes me all the best in the future and we'll stay in touch. I feel good about the future.

Hell of a ride.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"High Art". A fresh canvas.

Wielding the fiery energy of the wand, I will begin painting upon a fresh canvas with a residency in union with Pendulum Dance Theater in Portland, Oregon. I will be at the helm of all things story and character oriented crafting the through line of this wonderfully diverse show, "High Art: A Surreal Portrait of the Soul"

http://www.pendulumdancetheatre.org

Pendulum's multidisciplinary work has been revered for the last decade within the Portland artistic performance arena.

In association with the Portland Art Museum: http://portlandartmuseum.org the show, "High Art: A Surreal Portrait of the Soul" http://www.pendulumdancetheatre.org/perf. with incredible composer Sasha Lazard http://www.sashalazard.com/index. and world renowned drummer Ya'el http://www.drumaddict.net/about.html will conspire with us to manifest an intense offering into the nuanced depths of the soul.

So many talents swirled together in this intense creation it promises to astonish while activating an uncanny rapport with artists and audience linked by the umbilical of human experience.

Let the journey begin!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

San Diego weather.

I have new appreciation for warm clothes and resting at times in a chair.
San Diego, California has given this wonderful gift. (Realistically "San Diego" is probably only responsible for one of these gifts the other is a heavy work schedule and natural mortality)

I used to look out the window and see the sun shining bright and think to myself, "Hey, what a great day to wear a short sleeved shirt and shorts! It IS a beach community." Oh how wrong I was. Soon cold breezes scraped against my body while my friend the sun is hiding like a wussy behind the clouds sniggering at my discomfort and ill prepared bodily protection in the form of textiles used to keep my flesh that much further from elements that conspire to turn my mind against myself.

Not anymore! Trust, suitably broken.
I layer myself like a yeti senior citizen and get mocked by local school children as they pass.
But mine will be the last laugh. For they know not that this is a DEAD END STREET!

Wear a sweater!
(And neck tie if one is feeling fancy.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Meth Tweekers Should not work at Rental Car companies.


END OF POST FOR DAY, DUE TO CRAZY LADY EXHAUSTION

Twanks! ( A tribute to Twitter)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Simplicity.

The greatest comedy or variety acts have one thing in common: simplicity. This simplicity makes it so that you can't remember what was so funny about that Bill Cosby sketch about going to the dentist, but you know it was hysterical. You can watch a great stand-up comedian and laugh your eyes out of your head ,but you rarely can quote the act let alone deliver what was funny about the joke in retelling it. Leave this to the professionals!

Anyone can put on a rainbow wig, but that wig will not make people laugh. ( In some cases it will get injured.)
David Shiner said that he didn't want "clowns" for the creation of Kooza, he wanted funny people and they can learn to do make-up. Even within the show we clowns look the least like "CLOWNS" and the rest of the acrobatic troupe have more clown make-up qualities.

Simplicity. Less make-up more content.
In most cases you CAN"T describe what a great act was about. And when you try...you fail.
Simplicity is so simple its complex.

Best not to think about it.
Just let it do its thing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's next, Christian?

Now that most of the morning was spent sending back virtual drinks sent to me on Facebook...I have to start to make a real dent in the day.

So let's get this clear...I have 17 days left at "KOOZA". (I'm not counting down the shows because I'm not in a hurry to leave, I want to appreciate my time and each show is "one more precious jewel"...to harass,annoy, and entertain people in the San Diego area.)

But what's the next step for you,Christian?

Number One: I will be freelancing from my newly purchased (Dec.2008) home in Pittsburgh,PA booking private engagements and working "smarter". Less hours of falling on the floor screaming and more hours enjoying my family and the lack of exhausting physical performance.

Number Two: I am being hired by some great eclectic companies to do some Creative Director work in charge of stories and character development. (More on these when appropro.)

Number Three: I'm working towards doing more European gigs traveling with my lady on our own terms.

My time with "KOOZA" has been undefinable.
An incredible experience and now it is time to savor the day and seize the time to create the world I know is possible with the woman I love.

Cheers!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A breath of fresh air!

I am cleaning up superfluous web garbage I have been collecting for years as I move on to the next level of my career.
It feels good to cleanse and move forward!

This blog will now focus on all of the crazy fun things as I transition from my life on tour in Cirque du Soleil's "KOOZA" as the last original clown of the trio to my new prospects in Pennsylvania and worldwide. Exciting times to be in the entertainment industry.

Join me for the "touching conclusion" of my time with my creative baby, "KOOZA".

Cheers!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

TSUNAMI?

12:07pm La Jolla, California.

http://www.delmar.ca.us/News/Pages/ATSUNAMIADVISORY.aspxhttp://www.delmar.ca.us/News/Pages/ATSUNAMIADVISORY.aspx

So here I sit watching television coverage of the devastating Chile earthquake and the "Tsunami watch" and I realize I am in the coastal community of San Diego specifically La Jolla. The show I'm in is in Del Mar technically a ravine between two mountains off the coast of the Del Mar beach.

What to do in a tsunami DOES NOT cover go to work in a circus tent in a ravine off the coast from a tragic earthquake.
Especially 29 days away from my "retirement" from the show as this is the last city for me.

What will happen? Hard to say. The map on the news only shows Hawaii THEN San Diego. We'll see.

Take this opportunity to listen to my song, "Elements" for the full impact.

Chorus: "Waves may swell storms may crash. Swarming tsunamis steadily drop volcanic ash. Flash floods and strong winds cause an avalanche, but natural disasters can't match my rabid aftermath."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Well the spell of non-productivity is behind me and it's a New Year of creating and doing.
I am up in Montreal, Quebec at the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil recreating and networking. Great resources and friends here. Had the ability to focus on music for a bit and now I'm headed back to work and have to focus on money and see what music bubbles during the transition. We'll see.

Until then, "I'm back."