Friday, June 29, 2012

Still life

We have relatives visiting and I find it difficult to write with so many daily distractions. I didn't think that would be a factor but it is. So in the mean time until I get my mojo back here is a drawing.
As you were,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Instant News?

I have my iPhone set to notify me of major alerts from CNN.  That alarm went off this morning around 7:30am; it was the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Health Care Act. The quick blurb said, "Supreme Court has struck down the individual mandate for health care." I stumbled into the den and tuned the television to CNN wondering what the reaction was to the decision.
CNN was broadcasting pictures of masses of people around the Supreme Court building and a title at the bottom of the picture that said, "Supreme Court backs all parts of President Obama's signature health care law." About that time another alert from my iPhone corrected the first alert.
It seems the confusion happened because of the wording of the decision by the Chief Justice.  They found the mandate unconstitutional under the commerce clause of the constitution, but constitutional under congresses ability to levy taxes.  
CNN in its hast to be the first to broadcast the news, reported on the unconstitutionality part of the decision the minute it was read. In the next paragraph of the decision it was held constitutional.  Had they waited for the entire reading of the decision there wouldn't have been a need to publish a correction. 
This is my problem with instant news... it is instant.  Quick is not better it is just quick.   This eagerness to be quick was ultimately dead wrong on the facts this morning.  
I am not a fan of instant coffee, instant oatmeal, or most anything that has instant in front of it especially when it comes to facts and news.  As a society we should all take a deep breath, gather our thoughts and the facts before we, tweet, blog, instant message or report on a situation. Not just that it saves the extra step of a correction, it also keeps a lie from spreading.  What is the benefit from getting my coffee quicker if it is inferior to the coffee I could have if I wait for 10 minutes? Same should apply to the news.  
Broadway Set for "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only".
Originally designed by Beowulf Borrit.
Also in my news: The Trunks have been shipped to the set builders in Wilmington, NC.  They will begin construction in a few weeks.  I am going back to do some pre-publicity this month and will have a chance to consult with them as they start.  
It is very exciting, and a lot of work to get this show filmed.  I am looking forward to it.  If you haven't "liked" the Show page on FaceBook I invite you to do so. All the announcements as to the filming and eventually the sale of the DVD will be posted primarily there. 
As you were,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Heads Up

Clinton Detweiler has bestowed upon me a great honor by striking a coin with my likness. I share this issue "set" with my friends Terry Fator, Jim Barber and Mark Wade. I have never had my own coin before. This is exciting. Knowing my superstition for carrying a lucky coin, now I can carry my own coin for luck. I think that increases the "mojo" by an expandential factor. You can see and buy a set or individual coins at "CLINTON' BLOG"

I plan to carry one of these coins in my pocket when we film The Two and Only in September.
Speaking of that event... over my fervent objections Bob is still publishing his VLOG.  It is  like a small wooden stalker following me around with a camera. A puppet poparatzzi.  Here is the latest invasion of privacy.
As you were,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blog bla bla

This blog is now connected to a twitter account, a FaceBook page and two websites. At a time when it is accessible to many more people, readership is down this week. That is because I have not written anything new in a week.
It is an uncomfortable connection between art and business/marketing that seems to dog artists. An artist just wants to make art all the time. If it is writing, if it is painting, singing, playing an instrument or ventriloquating, that is what the artist wants to be busy doing. Unfortunately to have the time to do the art the artist must support himself with the art. That requires a commitment to gather an audience who will in some way help pay for the art. Time spent gathering an audience is time spent away from the art. Too much time spent away from making art to gather an audience to pay for the art, causes the art to suffer from abandonment. This makes it more difficult to make better art to attract more of an audience to help the artist contine to make the art. An artist can find himself chasing his tail in pursuit of an audience for a product that he does not have the time to produce.
It seems to be a fact for anyone who does not work a traditional job, and there is no clear solution to fix it. Rarely is the best artist the most popular artist. If they are spending time doing the things to become popular they are not doing the things to perfect their art. There are cases when the artist finds a connection to a partner or guide who will promote the art to pay for the artist to continue to do what the artist does best. There are also artists who care nothing about popularity and will starve rather than take time away from making art. The art world is full of artist who are celebrated after they are dead but impoverished while they are alive. Mozart and VanGough to name only a couple.
I tend to be of the mind that to create and make art is my job, popularity is not, although media would have you believe that popularity is prosperity. Too many people seem to be willing to exchange their happiness for popularity, assuming that popularity will replace their lost happiness. Or people buy into the myth that popularity brings money and money can buy happiness. These ideas rarely work out that way.
As a little girl my goddaughter stood at Disneyland's "Snow White wishing well" with a penny. She thought long and hard about the wish she would make as she threw the penny into the deep well. She was all smiles as her Mother asked her what she had wished for. Still glowing with the anticipation she said excitedly, " I wished for a penny."
I don't know what all of this means exactly. For me it means that I need spend time writing better blogs. Who reads them is not really within my control. I will hold to the philosophy that art is its own reward. A bird doesn't get paid to sing, it just sings. A flower doesn't get a salary for modeling, it is just being beautiful.
I ain't no flower and I don't sing like a bird, but I think what I am supposed to be doing is what I am driven to do. I think the Universe will provide for the continuation of that passion.
As you were,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What the House Painter Saw 
It was a Father and Son team that prepared and painted the outside of the house a few weeks ago.  They were very quiet and very polite. They were so nice, a few they were even startled to see me when I was just walking around the house. I'm not sure if it was surprise, fear, professional courtesy or just their natural shyness but they seemed always on guard around me. 
At the end of the job they attempted to say ventriloquist but asked instead if I was the "puppet" guy on television. I said yes, and at that moment felt very flattered that they recognized me. How else would they have know that I was a ventriloquist? 

Well, I got my answer as I was surveying their work yesterday.  When I stepped out of the glare outside looking at one of the windows,  this is what I saw.  I was literally up against the window before I could make out this face.  It startled me for a moment because he seemed to be staring right at me. These poor painters. For the entire time they worked around this window, prepping, priming and painting, they also had to stare down this wooden orphan watching them work.  

I am not a creepy guy and I understand what I do is creepy to some. Everybody has something that makes them shiver. (Coroners creep me out but I am sure they are fine people away from work. )  Being aware of this I do not try to freak people out, although it would be easier for me than most.  Things just happen because of the tools of my trade. This is a case in point. Had I known the little guy was guarding the window I would have asked him to move. 
Once again, Ventriloquist don't go crazy... people around them go crazy.
As you were,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In the Inflection

On Sunday I performed for the "Artists in Concert" show at the Performing Arts Center here in town. The studio is run by a couple who are great friends of ours. Joey choreographed several of the dance numbers and Nanci danced in two of the dances. I suppose it has been 16 years, at least, since I have seen Nanci dance full out in a performance, perhaps even longer. In the days when she was dancing more than teaching we were on tour with the Doug Henning Magic Show. I have seen her dance lots of times but just not recently. I was impressed that Nanci was dancing so beautifully with dancers half her age.
When I got home from rehearsals the day before the concert I was trying to tell Sandi how good Nanci was in the show. I said, "Nanci can dance!" Sandi replied something to the effect of "naturally" "of course" or some other acknowledgement.
At the show Nanci came up to me and said I had been busted. Sandi told her what I said when I got home from rehearsal, only the inflection of my words had changed. Sandi recalled to Nanci that I said, "Nanci can Dance?" with a question mark. That is not the intent nor the inflection with which I delivered the original statement. It also changes the entire context of the statement. I spent several minutes trying to tell Nanci that I was not shocked by her abilities but continually impressed after all these years. Of course stressing "all these years" is never a good thing to do to any woman. So my damage control had to be controlled itself. She is a good enough friend that no matter how she really took it, she will never let me forget it. That is our relationship, and I love her for it.
So to all the artists and gentlemen reading. This is a cautionary tale. When giving a compliment to a lady you have know for a long time... choose your words and your inflection very carefully and hope that it is not corrupted in translation.
As you were,

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Question of the Day
This question of the day comes from my friend: Daray Pringle via"Officially? ": 

Any prediction of when the DVD's will be available ? 

Posted by Daray Pringle to THE WORLD IS A STAGE at 7:32 PM

Answer of the Day:
Great question. I have no clue, even Las Vegas won't give odds on that prediction. I know we have to film it first. September 15th live. 

Promo of the Day:
Go To:  The Two and Only" -FB  Like (if you haven't already) and click on the  Two and Only logo.

As you were before you weren't,

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The first rule of show biz: when the Daily Variety  says you're doing something... you have to do it.

'Two and Only' to be filmPosted: 6/4/2012 Author: Gordon CoxBroadway alum "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" will be remounted in September for a filmed version of the solo ventriloquist act. Created by Jay Johnson, best known for his role on "Soap," the stage production "Two and Only" is a ventriloquism showcase that includes appearances by a number of Johnson's puppet characters.

It was more fun in the old days of Hollywood when Daily Variety was the local press. They used to phrase headlines like,  Braveheart Boffo at BoxOffice. Or Fred Silverman ankles ABC. They could have said, Vent wings East for Video Version of TAO.
At any rate it is official and we committed.
This is a real theatrical circus. Not only are we filming Jay Johnson: The Two and Only, but also remounting the large set version of the show on the other side of the country as well.  As I think about it, it seems like too much to attempt.  However, any second guessing is over now that it has been published in Daily Variety. If it is published in Daily Variety it has to be done.  So... Like the promo FaceBook page to get all the details. If you are anywhere near Wilmington in September Thalian Hall, buy a ticket to a once in a career show in a beautiful Historic Theatre.
I'll remind you again....
As you were,

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Survey says - Richard Dawson
In the early 80's CBS produced and aired Celebrity Family Feud as a prime time special. It was Celebrity contestants instead of real families playing Family Feud for charity. I performed on the show as a part of the SOAP Family/Cast. Of course, Richard Dawson was the host. I liked working with him. I always thought he was a talented guy and great raconteur. I secretly coveted the chance to replace him one day with dreams of being a TV host myself. Richard was spontaneously funny, intelligent and a gracious guy. He was an actor and comedian which made him more than just a comic. He really knew how to be inclusive with his humor. I liked him. But working with him is not the story I remember most when I think about Richard Dawson. Here is what I remember:
I was watching Family Feud on a television in a hotel bedroom. I neither remember the city, the hotel nor the club I was working at the time. None of that is important to the story. The only important fact is that I was alone in a hotel room when I yelled out at Richard Dawson.
If you do not know how Family Feud is played I am not going to explain. In my mind I can still here the bells and buzzers that tagged the answers in the game.
Richard - We asked one hundred people this question and their top Four answers are on the board. Ready hands down, here is the Question: Name a ventriloquist.
BUZZZ - The Gillis Family -
"Edgar Bergen"
Show us Edgar Bergen--- DING DING DING the top answer turns to Edgar Bergen.
What was background television in my room has not grabbed my full attention. There is no doubt Edgar Bergen would be first on the list of ventriloquists. But there are three more answers on the board and the Gillis Family has decided to play. What did the survey say about ventriloquists?
The Gillis Family's second guess is Shari Lewis and Lambchop, DING DING DING the number three answer turns to Shari Lewis. I have an idea of who I would guess next but the Gillis Family says, Ricky Lane - BUZZZ strike one. Two strikes left.
At some point I began to yell the names of my favorite ventriloquists to the Gillis Family as they struggled with the next few names. One of the Gillis nephew's says Willie Tyler and Lester as I scream Paul Winchell. BUZZZ....strike two. One strike left.
At this point Richard Dawson begins to show his talent as host. He jokes with the contestants, keeps the game moving and reminds the Gillis's if they miss one more time the Troy Family will have a chance to steal. As I look at the next Gillis to answer it doesn't look good.
Richard - "Thirty seconds... Name a ventriloquist......"
I continue to scream Paul Winchell, Paul Winchell.... and at the very last second cousin Gillis says...Paul Winchell DING DING DING... the number two answer... Paul Winchell...
Now there is one more strike and one last name of a Ventriloquist on the board for all the money. I have a vested interest in this game. I connect with the Gillis Family and do not want the Troy's to steal. I am sure I know name four on the survey.
Richard- "There is one last name on the board. You have one strike left, this is for the entire game. If you don't get this then the Troy's can steal it with the right answer, are you ready?"
It is back to the Gillis who knew Edgar Bergen would be number 1. There is a moment while Gillis is thinking that I softly say, "Jimmy Nelson and Danny O'Day"... it is going to the wire and I say... "Jimmy Nelson". Finally I hear the Gillis Family head say, Jimmy Nelson and Farfel...
I wonder if the character has to be specific. Would they allow Jimmy Nelson and Farfel as an answer if it is suppose to be Jimmy and Danny? If they just say Jimmy Nelson they will win. Richard is very cool and corrects the possible conflict by saying, "Show us Jimmy Nelson." BUZZZ the last strike and all hell breaks out in the studio and my hotel room. The Troy's have a chance to steal, they need one answer and they will win.
Richard goes to the first Troy in line. He reminds her that they have thirty seconds, he needs one answer. The contestant thinks for a moment, then seems to light up. "Oh I know, the guy on Soap, the ventriloquist, the guy...
Richard-" Ten seconds I need a name..."
Troy - "The guy who does Bob... Bob and... they guy, you know on SOAP"
Richard - "Five seconds I need a name..."
I start screaming my name. Jay Johnson, Jay Johnson...
Troy - "The Bob guy.... uh... Bob.... uh Chuck and Bob"
Other members of her family clap and say "Good answer". I am thinking terrible answer. But at the same time I am thinking... wow.. this lady thinks I am fourth in line. I am honored but I know they will strike out with the answer, "Chuck and Bob" that is the name of the character I played on SOAP. Jay Johnson might be that fourth card but they will lose with Chuck and Bob. I scream my name one more time to the television.
Richard - "Chuck and Bob is your answer.... I think who you mean is the ventriloquist who plays Chuck and Bob..... his name is Jay Johnson... right"
The Troys clap and say "Good answer...". I am thinking holy crap Richard just threw the game to the Troys. He said my name. Dawson said my name because he knew it was up there. He corrected Senior Troy with my name so there would be a big finish to the round. There would be a DING DING DING as a finish.
Richard - "For all the money and the game we need to see Jay Johnson on that survey...(Tension....lots of it particularly in room 1704 .... Show us Chuck and Bob on SOAP... show us Jay Johnson....(Time becomes slow motion as I want to savor this moment....) BUZZZ wrong.... Not there, neither name... no se llama.
Richard - The survey says....... "Senor Wenches" ... Of course. My ego had hijacked the survey. I was not there on the survey. But Richard Dawson said my name on the air.
The Family Feud goes to commercial, and I go off to the comedy club. I may have tried to tell that story at the club. If I did it didn't stay in the act.
Now Mr. Dawson is gone but those two memories remain. His talents will be missed.
As you were,

Friday, June 01, 2012

Counting Down

This shameless promotion is brought to you by the shameless promoter himself. There is about a hundred days until the filming of Jay Johnson:TheTwo and Only" and it seems like that is not enough to finish the details, but finish and film we will. 
Like all good projects it now has its own FaceBook page. The URL is:
You know the drill if you haven't done so already please go there and "like" it. I am not sure how this helps the universe, but it does. There is a button that will take you to buy tickets, I am sure that helps the universe. I promise we will not flood your FaceBook world with useless posts. Since it is a few months away we will remind you that it is coming as it gets closer.I would love everyone who is near to come, the theatre is great and just like the name implies....Historic .....and of course spread the viral word if you will. 
This blog will show up on the page as well. If you happen to be reading it on The Two and   only page now it must be a weird sense of Dejavue . More later from these same Internet channels.
As you were,