Sunday, January 22, 2012

Performing High

I enjoy performing too much to let anything cloud that experience, knowingly.  There are artists  I know well who believe they are better connected to their art, whatever it might be, if they are chemically altered in some way. Although I can't imagine that would be so, they do seem to at least be able to work in that condition. Are they better because of it or do they convince  themselves that it is better is the question? I am surely not the one that can answer that query. 

But that is not the subject of this blog, "other people performing high" it is about me.... "performing high. " Here is how it all went down: It was just another corporate show for a very exclusive group on Friday night.  I am not even sure what they did, but I knew based upon the venue and the speakers on the roster that this small group was important.  The driver who took me to the venue said the day before a Brinks truck had arrived with a solid gold artifact from the Mel Fisher salvage of the Atochia wreck. I think the subject of the day was gold, so they decided to bring in the ultimate in valuable gold bling. 

Things like this don't intimidate me. I decided it was just another version of the Bohemian Club, and I have no trouble entertaining those rich buggers, so how was this group different. Besides, I don't care what kind of business they are in.. or how much gold they can afford to buy, unless they perform ventriloquism, I can do something they can't so we are even at the starting line.

The booze was flowing freely to all. And based upon the sound check I knew that I would be working close to the audience in cramped conditions. That was a little concerning but not unique to my performing experience. As I did my usual warm up in the holding area I didn't think that my voice was responding very well. The producer kept plying me with water which I gulped down, but it was not helping my "chops". I just figured that Dr. Greasepaint would have to take over once I was introduced. It was finally time for me to go on. Even after a few sentences I knew something was different about this performance. My timing was off.  It was an immediate struggle, one that I had never experienced before on stage. I forgot the opening joke that I had planned to do. It was like climbing a mountain.  I just couldn't catch my breath and didn't seem to have enough air to even finish the next joke. I had to slow way down on stage but my mind was racing to find an answer to my current conditions. There was a side of my brain that was going through everything that I had done that day to help make sense of my situation.  I had not done anything different than I had done for thousands of corporate shows in the past. I wasn't stressed I wasn't overwhelmed, I wasn't doing anything different than I have always done. Here I was in Vail, Colorado entertaining a small but receptive group and I was struggling.  That is when it hit me.... VAIL, Colorado.... what is the altitude here? Much higher than I am used to and I have been here less than 24 hours. 

It was the altitude that was intefering with my performance.  I have always been extremely proud of the breath control I have worked on for all my career.  I rely in that control for the timing of my act and the projection of my voices. I have even lectured on the importance of breath control in ventriloquism.  If it is off then your entire act is off. That is when I figured it all out.  It doesn't matter how good your breath control is, if you are not getting the amount of oxygen you are used to getting with each breath, you are screwed. My problem was... I was performing high... higher in altitude than my usual performances. There is nothing quite like the feeling when you thing you have 30 more seconds of air....and you don't .  

I will remember this if they ever offer me the "ski resort" tour.

As you were,



Anonymous said...

jay were are you right now LA or out of the country?

Daray Pringle said...

Could have been worse, look at Tracy Morgan...

Bob Conrad said...

Being the pro you are I am sure you were able to pull it off.