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)

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!