Friday, March 30, 2007

I just finished some new work and of course Sandi is the first audience allowed to witness and give an opinion. This is not a task she relishes because she never knows how exactly to answer. Do I need her encouragement or her critical eye? Usually I’m not even sure what I am looking for. The child in me always needs a pat on the back, while the adult in me needs constructive feedback. It is an impossible situation from which to respond. But after decades together I still do it to Sandi.

I show her what I want her to see and as she is contemplating how to respond, I say, “I might be crazy, but I think this works.”

Her response is, “Well, I don’t think it is either or.”

As you were,

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I have been immersed in a project that has kept me from the blog. I’m not sure there is much to talk about for the Two and Only. I remember how much fun it was to give a nightly report on the show and my experiences in New York. That seems so long ago now.

I talked to my friend Joanne Worley this morning and she is on her way to join the cast of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” at the Marquis Theater on Broadway. She will be wonderful in the role of the dowager. I am anxious to see her in the show the next time I am in New York.

The next deadline is the announcement of the Tony nominations. I think the powers that be are waiting to see what happens to help jump-start the tour process. I never thought the tour would take so long, nor be so difficult. I thought the hardest part was making it to Broadway. Evidently it is all a very long project and it seems one has to have another job to afford a career in theater. Being a dyslexic instead of doing this early in my career, I decided to do it at the down side of a career.

We will also induct the original Bob into the Smithsonian the middle of May. That is very exciting. They are still creating the event so I don’t know much more than a date.

The IRNE award has recalled all the fun we had in Cambridge. That is when the road to Broadway was clear and full of excitement. I suppose there is nothing that could ever compete with that feeling, unless the show was still on Broadway.

There is a new horror movie out now called “Dead Silence”. I have not seen it but it seems to involve the dark and demented side of ventriloquism. I always hoped my show would stir up a renewed interest in the art form. I am taken up short that this could be the result. The demon side of ventriloquism is just so easy to write about. The movie will perhaps scare a new generation away from those of us who have found the art. I wish there was a current tour for The Two and Only that would at least tip the balance.

Thanks to all of you who keep asking about the tour, and keep checking in here to see if there is any news. I will post it as soon as I know, but you know the rule. I am the last to know. With Murphy and Paul fighting the battle for another off Broadway venture, the information I get is usually a month old.

I have not lost hope, nor the will to take the tour anywhere and everywhere that makes sense. I still think there are thousands of people who want to see this show and I want to bring it to them.
As you were,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Well if it’s the third week of March it must be time for
The Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Awards. The ceremony was last night and the
winners announced.

The 2007 winner for Best Visiting Production is: “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only!”

So “in your face”, Lynn Redgrave, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I would like to thank IRNE and all the people who came to see our production in Cambridge. Thank you Wiz.. was it worth the bat attack? Thank you Clifton, we still have a tab open at O’Briens. Thanks Rob for being there to load out. And thanks to Amanda, Tori and Lauren the “Charlies Angeles” of ART and of course Murphy, Paul and Sandi, for making it a wonderful run last summer.

As you were,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well the results of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards are in. Last night in the ceremony at the El Portal theater in the category of Best Solo Performance, the nominees were:
Jim Brochu, Zero Hour, West Coast Jewish Theater.

Jay Johnson, Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! Brentwood Theater and Colony Theatre

Lynn Redgrave, Nightingale, Mark Taper Forum.

And the winner is: Lynn Redgrave, Nightinggale.

The LA press gave the award to a legendary Actress from a world acclaimed theatrical family for a show about Florence Nightinggale one of the worlds most acclaimed humanitarians performed at LA’s most prestigious venue. Those kiss-ass-critics. They would choose this over a show about a man and his puppets. What is the theater world coming to?

This is only the second time I have attended this LADCC awards show. They are known to give out multiple awards in the categories. In one case there were four nominees and three winners. The only loser must go home to an ego shredder after the awards. At least my friend Jim Brochu and I can sit at a bar and dish about the winner.

Actually it was a pleasant evening. I didn’t have to perform and the likelihood of having to give a thank you speech for an award was a long shot. In the tradition of my Boy Scout training, which continually reminds me to always be prepared, I did write something just in case it was needed. It was easy and the only thing I thought I might be called upon to say. “Congratulations to Ms. Redgrave on her winning performance.”

As you were,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bill Irwin and Kathleen Turner are doing their award winning production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" at the Ahmanson Theater here in Los Angeles.

I finally got to see my friend Bill do that part last night. I can't quite get over the idea that the man who created "Fool Moon" and "In Regard of Flight" can also turn in a performance of Albee's work like he did. I thought he was stunning. The production was fine and everyone was good but the more I watched Bill play George, the more complicated his performance became. It was like a video game where each level solved opened to another more challenging puzzle. He was truly amazing.

I was, however, sitting in the "cell phone" section of the theater. Although they make the announcement to turn off cell phones once before the show, and at both intermissions, three people around me had their phones ring, loudly during the performance. None of the three acts was free of cell phone rings. It is not just the ring that is distracting, but the scramble to find the purse, to get the phone to shut it off becomes a professional wrestling maneuver.

And of course cell phones don't just ring anymore, full orchestrations announce incoming calls. Suddenly a flea circus marching band concert can interrupt any silence. Lilly Tomlin once said, "I'm afraid the person who thought up Muzak, is thinking up something else." Unfortunately, he was thinking up ring tones. Great idea! Why just disturb people with a bell ringing when you can irritate them with a hackneyed song.

Bill and Kathleen were asked in a talk back, "what are the differences in New York, London and Los Angeles audiences". Bill said, cell phones ringing during the performance was more a problem in LA than any where else. One lady stood up and said, "Perhaps it is because we have more doctors here than anywhere else." If this is the mental capacity of the average audience member in Los Angeles, no wonder they can't remember to turn off their cell phones.

As you were,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I was briefly in New York this week to receive the Pricilla L. Vail Language Award from the New York Chapter of the International Dyslexic Association. As a joke in my act I always call this group the DNA, National Dyslexic Association, but they are international and certainly a great bunch of people helping kids cope with dyslexia. The first thing I said in my speech to all the doctors and educators, was why they had to come up with such a difficult word like dyslexia for people who have difficulty spelling. Oh well. I was honored and delighted to receive the award and the honor. I never thought I would become a poster boy for anything, but I am glad to help encourage my dyslexic brothern to know they are out of the box thinkers. Mostly because we have never been able to function in the world's one size fits all box.

I wasn't feeling well in New York, so I really didn't get to do much but the speech. The rest of the time I spent throwing up in my hotel room. I was concerned that I might toss during the awards luncheon, knowing this might set dyslexia back 40 years I was trying very carefully not to.

Yesterday on the plane I was hoping not to toss as well. I started thinking of all the nicknames for vomiting. Hurl, toss, heave, spew, up chuck, feed the fish, drive the procelin bus, check the cookies and one I had never heard but works for me "Roy." If you have a favorite send it to me.

I am still a little under the weather, but Sandra insists that my dance card if full for the next couple of weeks and I do not have time to be ill.

More later, less vomit references.
As you were,

Thursday, March 08, 2007

You know you travel too much when you have a personal relationship with a limo driver in St Maarten. His name is Julio Rouy. He is my friend and has been driving me to and from the ships, hotels and airport on St. Maarten for six years. It is always great to see him.

Originally from Jamaica he is not only the owner of the elite transportation company on the Island, he also provides a bodyguard service as well. He is average height but is built like a Greek statue. He is a master of martial arts, and a weapons expert. Julio, his friends call him Julio, clients call him Rouy, is a very quiet and intelligent man with an engaging sense of humor and style. He is the one who drives and protects any celebrity that might come to St. Maarten.

Now that Anna Nicole Smith is gone he is more open to talking about the several months he was her St. Maarten bodyguard. He has great stories you will only hear while riding in his car, but what he isn’t telling could fill Celebrity magazines for years.

I hate to go though Customs and Immigrations at Miami Airport. I heard some traveler say yesterday while running to a plane, “This is the Stupidest Airport in the world.” Well, I haven’t been to every airport in the world, but it is the stupidest on my list.

A Customs official asked me where I had been with all these cases. I said, “I have been working, I am a ventriloquist and these are my puppets.” She didn’t seem to believe me. The choice was to either throw my voice or open all the cases for inspection. Rather than miss my plane, I decided to give her a show. It is like performing for the Mafia with a gun to your head. I was afraid that after I did a voice or two she would say, “No one would hire you with that act… strip search him and lock him up.”

Did I say it is great to be back home?
As you were,

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sea Veiw

The last time we were in port I was looking at the ship and saw a long window high on the ship near the stern. Several guys were standing at a waist high wall looking out the window. It looked like they had a great view so I tried to find that window after we sailed. I could not seem to find it and no one on the crew knew what I was talking about. 

By accident I wondered into an aft men's room on deck 11 a day or so later. I went to do my business and suddenly realized I was looking out a window above the urinal.  This is the window I was looking for.  The best view of the ocean is from the men's room on deck 11. And while taking in this beautiful view you can also multi task, if you know what I mean.  I assume the designer of the ship was a man.
As you were,

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hi Sees

The Granduer of the Seas was docked with us a day or so ago. I've been on that ship many times.
It is older now and when I was on it the engine was not really working all the time.  As it sailed out of Los Angeles harbor on the Mexican Riv cruise, they could stop at Cabo either on the way down or back. The engine needed repair so the decided to go to Puerto Villarta (sp) to get it repaired. It was too complicated and they had to sail back, but couldn't go very fast so they would not have time to stop in Cabo.
Well they tell the passengers that the weather is too bad to anchor since it is a tender port. There is a sigh of disappointment but you can't do anything about the weather.  Unfortunately that night there was a medical emergency and they had to make the nearest land, it was Cabo.  As the sun came and they were getting the emergency off the boat, there was a Carnival Ship, A Celebrity Ship and a Princess all anchored. The weather was perfect, people were dancing, jet skis flying, para sailors soaring... the passengers of the Grandeur knew that had been lied too about the weather.
It was the closest to a mutiny I have ever experienced.
As you were,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Set your Sales

It dawned on me today this is the very ship where "The Two and Only" was written. There is not even a plaque at the Champagne Bar commemorating that fact. I remember boarding this ship a couple of years ago with a hand full of 3x5 cards with Murphy's notes and after a few days of writers block, it started to come together. I had that actors dream for a couple of days, the one when you are on stage and realize you have forgotten the dialogue.
I rehearsed the show in its earliest form out on the balcony of cabin 6392 of this ship, yeah, and there is no plaque there either. I did scribble some graffiti on the wall, but I doubt the steward will let it stay. Who needs a plaque anyway, now you all know and that sums up about all who would care of be interested.
I heard a story that several trips ago the Captain was asked to do a burial at sea. They don't do that much anymore and the Captain was not sure of the process. Late at night they did a "rehearsal" to make sure it went well and accidental let the body slip off the stern into the sea. They chose not to tell the grieving widow, and instead placed a bushel of potatoes in a body bag. The actual ceremony was performed the next day. That could have solved all the Anna Nicole Smith issues.
I just heard through the grape vine that the Dallas run has been pushed to next spring. As my spy said, "Right month wrong year."  I did not hear that from any official channel, because I have decided that the official channels don't have a clue. 
I guess that is all I have for now.
As you were,

Friday, March 02, 2007

On Bored

This expensive computer on the ship does not have a spelling checker, so use your best guess for my vocaulary.
This is the same ship I was on only two weeks ago, the crew is still yelling "That's a monkeyjoke" at me. However, I was a late addition, so all the manifest and company paperwork was slow in getting here. After I did my show and we were at sea, the pursers office called and said it was okay for me to be here. Duh.
I did not know so many people would be concerned and compelled toward my idea to tell the true tale of Broadway Two and Only. I'm not sure it really matters anyway. I can just imagine a coal miner who runs across my complaining. Here is he coughing up coal dust reading about how rough it was when I did my Broadway show. Kind of puts it all in perspective.
Speaking of perspective. Although they finally resolved the "crisis" of Anna Nicole's corpse, Jame Brown's dead body is still not buried. Again it is an inheritance issue. Where is that in the lead stories? I mean a dead body story is a dead body story, right?
That is all I've got at these prices.
As you were,