Thursday, September 21, 2017

Congratulations Darci Lynne Farmer - Winner

I remember in college there was a producer from Vegas who contacted me to be in one of his review shows.  He described ventriloquism as a "Dying art".  We didn't come to an agreement for me to do that show.  As it turned out his style of show was the dying art. His empire of what we called the 'tits and feathers' show was soon to be surplaned by Cirque du Sole shows.  
It seems that most of my career people have been looking at what I do as a relic from the corpse of vaudeville.  My response to the idea that ventriloquism was a "dying art" has always been:  Art never dies as long as there are artists around to perform/produce it.  Hopefully the AGT win (third ventriloquist in the shows history to come in first) for Darci Farmer will put to rest the idea that ventriloquism is going anywhere but up.  
It is not that Darci is just a wonderfully talented girl, nor that her ventriloquism technique is near perfect, and her singing chops could stand alone with out the puppet assistance; it is that Darci seems to understand the long history and tradition that she has now become a part of.  Her dedication to the art and her young spirit will influence a generation of belly talkers to come. And the fact that Darci's  win was not overshadowed by others claiming intellectual property "borrowing" makes the win all that more exciting for us vents.  
While Darci recovers from her Cinderella moment they are unveiling Jeff Dunham's star on Hollywood Blvd. this very morning, and Terry Fator continues his record breaking run at the Mirage.   
The unseen part of this universal interest in ventriloquism is the fact that Darci accomplished her win in a somewhat old fashion way.  Besides the hard works that Darci put in (only another vent knows exactly how many hours it takes to do what she did) but more traditionally, Darci was mentored one on one by another master ventriloquist.  Gary Owen was the maven in this case with help from others especially Dan Horn. (Both Members of the Vent Haven Museum Advisory Board).  In Darci's opening routine "Summertime" there was a moment where Petunia covered Darci's mouth when she tried to highjack the song.  In that moment I saw the inspiration of Dan Horn.  I think every artist knows the defining stokes of other artists they admire.  
So what does all this mean for the art of ventriloquism? Well, there is no doubt that it will continue to "trend" for awhile.  Any verntriloquist who performs will be asked if he/she has seen or knows Darci. Darci will continue to grow as a performer and artist and if she wants a life in the business we call "show", she certainly will have more interesting choices.  Based on the number of votes she got there are many people who will be interested in seeing what she does next.  
Now, here is my pitch to all who have interest in this ventriloquist blog conversation.  I'm talking to all you voters who voted up to ten times after three separate performances to put Darci over the top.  Share some of that energy,  help preserve this Art of Ventriloquism.  Donate to the Vent Haven Museum building fund.  It is obvious Vent Haven needs a new wing to accommodate Darci's legacy, but more than that; the museum that houses the worlds most complete history and knowledge of ventriloquism,  should be world class.  As wonderful as our virtual world can be for us vents there is no web tour, video or picture that can tell the story of ventriloquism.  Ventriloquism is a live, oral art which is tangible and tactical. It needs to be experienced live. A Museum is the place to keep such treasures to be protected, preserved and presented.  Let's invest in the future of kids like Darci who see the world through their own imagination and not through the device of a hand held screen.  If everyone sent a dollar to the Vent Haven Building Fund for every vote they cast for every AGT Ventriloquist (all three winners and a finalist) then Vent Haven would be ready to construct its historical space.
I've never been very good at soliciting money.  I've also never had an over abundance of money to give to the causes I want to support.  But maybe someone reading this knows that game better than me.  
While people are talking about ventriloquism, continue that conversation and tell people about Vent Haven, and ask them to donate.  Do it quickly before the conversation turns unavoidably back to politics.  I think we all need something more interesting to direct our attention.  I'm sayin' there should be bipartisan support for preserving these "silent partners" at Vent Haven.
Way to go Darci, and high fives to the Team Darci as well.
As you were,
Jay 

 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The memory is still vivid

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11 Remembered...

Reprints from the past:

Those of us who did live past this day in 2001 we will never forget those who didn't.  They were all of us.  There were no blogs, no tweets, no texts, no smart phones connected to social media back then,  but it was seared into my consciousness nonetheless. It was seven years before I thought I could write about it here.

Written on: 
Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. No one of this generation will forget where they were when they heard the news about a plane hitting the World Trade Center that morning. Most of us were watching CNN by the time the second plane hit. I was in Boston, which immediately became part of the crime scene.

I was performing for an Insurance company. A week earlier they called and asked if I could move my performance/presentation to Tuesday morning instead of Monday afternoon. They had a scheduling problem and that would help. I had no problem with coming in and leaving a day later. I didn't think much about it until after the events of 9/11. My manager at the time just switched my flights around and adjusted everything by 24 hours. That change in schedule saved my life.

My traveling MO is to catch the first nonstop home to Los Angeles the morning after my performance. In most major cities American Airlines is my carrier of choice. I am a two and and a half million mile American Airlines AAvantage member and in 2001 had Executive Platinum status. It was of no help when all air travel stopped for a week after the towers fell.

Until the company delayed my performance by 24 hours I was booked on the first non stop home after my Monday afternoon show. I was booked in seat 4E non stop from Boston to Los Angeles, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, American Airlines #11. I remember at the time thinking that flight #11 on the 11th of the month seemed lucky. That plane hit the north Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 am. Because the show date changed I wasn't on that flight, I was waiting to go on stage.

Even with that graphic and life changing example, I sometimes forget that everything happens for a reason. One small decision is sometimes the one that changes your life. Only with perspective do we understand that it as either good or bad, and ultimately even good and bad are human judgments.

It would seem natural to thank God for saving my life, but doesn't that make him responsible for the 3000 souls he didn't save that day? There were people on flight #11 much more "deserving" to live than me, or at the least equally deserving. They prayed for protection and deliverance that morning.

I would have been sitting on the plane next to David Angel who was the very talented writer/creator of the television show "Frazier" had my show date remained as contracted. He was deserving to have another day in his life, but he rode the plane into the tower. Who did God love more, me or him? It is a stupid question.

That event does not define me. I do not count the days since I was saved. I have not used it as a testimony in Church. I don't think I was given a celestial "do over". I rarely even remember it unless prompted by some event. All I know is I am here to write briefly about it and David Angel is not. I wrestle with the name Angel trying to make it some sort of metaphor. It is as fruitless as thinking flight #11 on the 11th was lucky. It was what it was. Those who have moved on are not looking back, but here's to all of us who are left behind to try and figure it out.

We will never quite be as we were,
Jay

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sept. 11

I guess 9/11 emotions trump most any others. As the years go by I always feel blessed when this anniversary comes around again.

I've written in the blog about it before but I was booked on American Flight 11 that morning in 2001. Due to a last minute change of my show schedule I wasn't traveling when the flight hit the tower.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Not Forgotten

I got this wonderful comment on my blog yesterday.
Jay, I just wanted to say 'thank you'. On 9/11, and for many days after, you and I were both stranded at the Hartford Airport hotel. Evacuated by M-16 wielding National Guardsmen and taken by van to another hotel and then back again to Hartford. We saw each other each day, talked while we ate at the bar, walked around to try and ease the monotony, spoke to people about their circumstances and tried to figure out ways to get 'home'. Or, in your case, to a gig in Utah, if I remember correctly. It was comforting to have a 'familiar' face during those difficult days. You were so humble and friendly. It made the 3000 mile separation from my family a bit more bearable. I'm always proud to say 'I was stranded during 9/11 with Jay Johnson'. 
 This brought it all back to memory like a movie re-run - that 9/11 week at the Hartford Airport Hotel. The airport was closed and there were several flight crews for different airlines stranded with all of us. I remember this young lady very well. She had small kids at home. Her husband expected her to be gone only a day or two. She was even attending the same conference that I was performing for. Her husband was dealing with the kids. She and I were dealing with how the world had just changed. It is perhaps a bonding moment when armed National Guardsmen escorted us from the hotel. This was the closest airport to Boston Logan/departure point of the hijacked planes. There was a rumor on the news of the hijackers using Hartford as a staging area for other strikes. They evacuated us by van to a downtown hotel, searched all the rooms and moved all the parked cars away from the terminal before they would let us come back. A day later.

Jay

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hurricanes from Heaven


Here is an article that disturbs me.  I'm not sure how it came into my digital consciousness but this is it copied and pasted.  I assume these are real people with real congregations or radio audiences. 
http://deadstate.org/and-now-heres-the-evangelicals-blaming-hurricanes-on-the-gays/

If you don't have time to read it I will give you the "Cliffs notes".  This piece quotes several media evangelists who claim that Hurricane Harvey was punishment from God for Houston electing a homosexual mayor. Several others link life style to the wrath of God, particularly Hurricanes.  With the attention now on Irma, it still seems to be happening.   These are the same "anointed teachers" who claimed that 9/11 was punishment from God for America's liberal stance on abortion, and God sent Katrina to New Orleans, because, well, New Orleans.  

It seems like we should have risen above this idea that God is Zeus.  Do we still pray to a physical God who controls a physical earth.  If that is the case,  according to the evangelist quoted in the article above, God seems to prefer punishing the violations of his children with water, now-a-days via Hurricanes.  If I worship a God who sent the Hurricane then, why would I pray to the same God to help me get through it?   That enigma has never been logically explained to me. 

God is the source of all knowledge and power. I have always assumed that is absolute truth. No matter what you call that truth, God,  IT,  HIM or I am that I am. That source in me that connects to the infinite consciousness knowledge of existence, is too long to write much less to say.  God is a three letter word, easy to type and say.  From now on the letters GOD will represent Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omniscient and all other gender and non-gender specific relative synonyms. 

It would seem to me that God, the Being of absolute Intelligence,  would also be perfectly logical. However, we attribute "acts of God" to the most illogical  of circumstances.  This misconception seems to go further than just natural disasters.

It is not logical that death is the price for Life. It has been a long time since we sacrificed a virgin to keep the volcano from erupting.  If  Knowledge and Power wanted to teach humans a lesson it would not "hurricane" an area of Earth. That's inefficient and wasteful.  Life lessons from Intelligence are individually crafted and specifically targeted, passed on from one to another.   Why send a Hurricane when Infinite Intelligence has the power to alter individual consciousness.  Of course great wealthy religions find it difficult to make money teaching higher consciousness, people are more willing to pay for a ticket to heaven or a pass from going to hell than paying for self enlightenment.  We still want someone, some thing, some circumstance to be responsible for our bad behavior.  The Truth that we might be responsible for our own lessons and challenges is hard to accept. 

So let's take God out of the punishment business and put God back into the education business.  Perhaps Intelligence is teaching us that we need to pay more attention to how we are treating the planet, and less attention to our punishing homosexuals.  

Either way, as I write this the news is predicting IRMA to hit South Florida with a force greater than HARVEY.   May our combined consciousness assist the consciousness that is in the path.  May we care more about assisting with their safety and their rescue, than wasting time assuming who might be to blame.  
As you were,
Jay


Friday, September 01, 2017

Part Two - Bubba and the Death Tiki

 Some facts are deduced, some are acknowledged,  some are accepted and some are assumed. This is all I know about Bubba.  I deduced that Bubba was not the man's real name, he acknowledged he was 7 years older than me, I assumed he had the run of the beach for Kona Village, and I accepted that every story he told me was true.

Bubba's official title was "Beach Manager".  If you were going in, near or around the Kona Village Beach you had to check in with Bubba. He functioned more as a concierge of the beach than a life guard. If you want to snorkel, fish, scuba, surf board, boogie board, sit under an umbrella, take a boat ride and probably many many more things you might want, Bubba is your guy. 

Kona Village opened in 1965 and two years later Bubba arrived.  There was something about the "vegetation" that compelled Bubba to come to Kona. A love child of the 60's, Bubba was in search of that natural high.  He came from a southern city on the main land, but after 30 years of living on Kona, it didn't matter any more. Although he would never be considered a true islander, he was as local and native as you could be with, a hip,  slightly southern accent.  

Hawaii is a mystic place, and although missionaries converted the willing many years ago, the tribal customs and superstitions are still revered.  Kona Village had on staff a local woman who not only helped guests with Hawaian arts and crafts, but functioned as the spiritual leader for the Village.  Her name was "Mama", it was her title as well as nickname.  She made sure that Kona Village was blessed by the appropriate rituals.  

As it was told to me by Bubba here is how it all started.  Part of Bubba's job is to keep the beach groomed and free of things that wash ashore.  One day it looked as though a large log had beached itself near his activities shack.  As he approached close enough he saw that it was an old carved wooden Tiki Statue.  It looked to be an authentic carving, not something that would be sold to tourists.  It was weathered from being in the ocean for some time, and very heavy.  Thinking that it was a sign of good luck, Bubba managed to drag it up near the shack.  He propped it up in the sand facing the Village and leaned his surfboard against it.  Bubba thought the Tiki made the activities shack look authentic and decorated.  It seemed the perfect local decoration to the beach, just in time for the summer season.  It might be there to this day except for what happened next.  

For Kona Village it was not a good season. Check ins for some reason were the slowest they had been since opening.  With a slow summer the staff could prepare for the Weddings that keep them busy during the "off season".  Weddings on the beach at this authentic venue were very popular with the locals.  They made way for a busy wedding season.

That did not go well for Kona Village either.  Wedding parties and ceremonies were way off.  In fact the few weddings that did book the Village were mainly couples from the main land.  Kona Village was hurting while the rest of the touristy places were doing their usually brisk business, no one knew why. One day Bubba saw Mama waiting for him at his beach shack.  She was upset.
"What have you brought into our Village?"  She was making reference to the Tiki.  Bubba explained that the Tiki had washed ashore and he decided to display it properly.  
"Don't you know what that is?" She asked.  Other than the obvious, that it was a Tiki Statue, Bubba didn't know much about it.  Mama said something in Hawaian that Bubba had heard before.  Loosely translated it meant, "You are not of this island." 
"Notice that this Tiki has frown.  That is the evil smile. This is not a good Tiki god this is what we call a death Tiki. When a Village experiences bad luck, the Death Tiki is carved so it will absorb all the evil in the Village so the people will be free of problems."  By inviting the Death Tiki into the Village it was now spewing all of the bad things it had absorbed and infecting Kona Village with bad luck.  There was not a villager on the Island that would get married with a Death Tiki looking on.  It had to be removed. 

Bubba was enough of a believer to understand, and there was no doubt that Kona Village was going through a stretch of bad luck since the Tiki arrived.  He knew that if for no other reason than to make Mama happy, Bubba had to get rid of the Tiki.  But Mama said that the ritual of removal must be observered very carefully so that the bad luck would not stay after the Tiki was gone. 
The Tiki must be buried at sea.  The Tiki must be taken to the ocean far away from any shore and dumped, head first, into the sea.  Head first so its power would be neutralized, and far enough away that it couldn't find its way back to Kona Village.  Since Bubba had "invited it to the village" he is the one who had to get rid of it.  Mama would not even go near the Death Tiki much less touch the evil effigy.  Bubba had his instructions, and Mama was not going to leave the beach until he accomplished the quest.  
By now the Tiki was well grounded in the sand by the shack.  With no help from Mama, Bubba struggled with the Tiki until he got it to the water line.  Bubba commandeered a fast ski boat and anchored it as close as he could to the shore with the Tiki.  The Tiki was definitely bottom heavy so it would stand erect, so getting it into a moving boat was not easy.  By inflating a rubber raft around the statue he was able to float it out to the boat and get it on board.  The weight of it almost swamped the speed boat, but with Bubba at the front for ballast it was sea worthy.  
As Bubba and the Tiki sailed away, Mama never left her position on the shore. Her last words to him were, 
"Don't look back at the Tiki." Soon he was too far out at sea to notice if  Mama was still there and wondered how far was far enough. As the waves pummeled the craft the wet wood rubbing against the Fiberglas of the boat made a groaning sound that was unsettling to Bubba.  He didn't look back in case it really was the death rattle of the Tiki. 

What had been a beautiful day on the beach turned dark and windy on the ocean.  A storm was on the horizon and heading to his position fast.  The waves were getting too large to go much further so Bubba idled the motor and prepared to assault the Death Tiki.  It was clearly apparent that dumping the Tiki into the ocean head first was a problem, given the massive weight at the base.  As Bubba struggled the boat would list and water would splash over the edge.  This wrestling match became much more difficult as the clouds moved in and the ocean began to grow angry.  It was now or never, although Bubba thought that the boat might swamp and sink if he didn't get it over the side quickly enough. Using the side of the boat as a pivot, Bubba got the head of the Tiki into the water, but it fought to right itself.  Bubba gave the base a heavy push with his legs almost falling out of the boat, but it was enough to send the Tiki head first to the depths.  

The wind is a problem now and the rain is arriving with dark clouds.  Bubba throttles the boat to full speed attempting to out run the approaching storm.  With that there is a huge lighting strike which seemed to hit the very place where he had just dumped the Tiki. Not thinking about Mama's admonition, Bubba turned to look back to see how close the strike had come.  As he did the Tiki suddenly breached the water head first and bobbed up to the darkened sky as lightening flashed with a deafening thunder.  The Tiki was angry and trying to fight back.  

Bubba arrived back at Kona Village where the sun was still shining and Mama was still on the beach waiting.  
"Did you dump it head first?"
"Yes.... it was difficult."
"Death Tikis don't go easily. But now we will be fine."

And so they were until March of 2011when the tsunami caused by a Japanese earthquake hit the property and destroyed it.  Now there have been reports that Japanese trash continues to wash up on that shore of what was Kona Village. Bubba is not around anymore to keep the beach groomed.  If I were writing the story among the flotsam beached on that sand would also be an old wooden tiki with a downward smile who found his way back.   I will be anxious to see how they build Kona Village back, but I doubt I will ever see Bubba again.
As you were,
Jay





Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Part One -Bubba and the Death Tiki

The coverage of Hurricane Harvey has me thinking about another climate invasion, the one that destroyed Kona Village on the Big Island.  It was the tsunami that hit Hawaii in March of 2011. Kona Village was originally built in 1965 and there are plans to rebuild and open once more, for the 2019 season.  But:
Before that disaster Kona Village was one of my favorited places to vacation. Everyone got their own hut surrounding either a small shaded lake or one that had a beach front.  There was no television, no radio nor a telephone in any of the huts and only the open windows and a ceiling fan for any sort of air conditioning. All you really needed, outside of just having fun, was taken care of with just a signature and hut number.  If you really needed to contact the outside world for an emergency, there was one land line telephone at the caretaker/receptionists desk at the dining hall.  It was great for the kids, a protected place to rough it old Hawaian style.  
One morning I made my way down to the pool - which has a bar. (It was not totally without creature comforts).  The family was off doing activities so I decided to purposefully pursue my relaxation.  I settled into a nice lounge chair in the shade of a palm tree and ordered a Bloody Mary. The great thing about Hawaii and its climate, if you are just out of the sun in any sort of shade, there is a trade wind breeze that fans you like a celestial concubine.  When the bartender came back with my drink he said, 
"Do you want to just keep that on the tab open, or do you want to close it."
"Tab?" I said.  I just arrived and this was my first time to order anything from this bar.  The bartender said, 
"You have an open tab at the bar."
"I don't think so. It must be the wrong hut number, because I just got here.  This is the first thing I have ordered from this Bar." 
The bartender was very nice and said he would check on it, as I enjoyed the Bloody Mary and the beautiful Hawaian morning.  Another great thing is the perfumed air that is Hawaii.  I am not sure what the scent is, Sandi says Plumeria, I don't know about things like that.  To me it just smells like a wonderful morning on the shores of a Hawaian beach.  It is, as the poets say,  intoxicating. 
A few minutes later the bar-keep brought me one of those receipt forms with the drink orders recorded.  Sure enough, there was a charge for three Pina Coladas at 9 bucks a piece with my hut number at the top.  They were all from earlier that day.
"Gee, I don't know what these charges are. Like I said, I just got here and this is my first order."  
Again the Bartender was very non-invasive and said he would see what happened.  
It gave me time to think about the experience I had the morning before.  Kona Village was built on the edge of an old lava flow.  These ubiquitous rock formations look like gigantic frozen cow patties covering the country side.  But the lava flows just on the edge of the Kona Village property were even more special. Carved  into these lava rocks were petroglyphs from hundreds of years ago.  Ancient graffiti scratched into the surface of the lava by people who sat exactly where I currently sat, centuries before.  There were hundreds of these ancient art projects.   Some of the drawings have worn away to near invisibility, but the idea that I was connected with the art of ancient artists was a religious experience.
Now Hawaii is a Mother Earth experience to me.  I am fascinated by the culture and traditions of the Island people and always appreciate it when I'm there.  I got the idea that I would commune with the spirits of thoses artists from long ago and celebrate sunrise over the petroglyphs.  I was so excited to have this adventure that I woke up in time for sunrise even without an alarm clock.  
It was twighlight and there was just enough light to easily negotiate the lava flows. I found a place to sit in the middle of the petroglyph field.  The sun was not yet up but as the sky became brighter by the second, I could see the markings more clearly.  I sat there in contemplation of this incredible artistic time warp tracing my finger along one of the figures that had been scratched into stone.  That is when the first rays of the sun beamed across the edge of this sea of lava.  Suddenly and for only about a minute or less, the entire lava field lit up with the intense light of the sun's first rays.  All around me and even where I was sitting I suddenly witnessed not hundreds but thousands of petroglyphs.  The sun was casting very low angle shadows so that even the most subtle scratch in a rock became clearly visible.  Petroglyphs which had eroded too far down to actually see in full sun light flashed back alive with new beauty.  I don't know how long it was before the sun moved from this perfect angle, but as quickly as the old drawings appeared they were gone again.  It was a cosmic gift to me for getting up so early on a vacation morning.

Sitting by the pool looking out at the morning ocean waves, I had forgotten about the real world for a moment.  Just in time for my second Bloody Mary the bartender appears in my own personal paradise.  He has with him the signed bar receipts for the Pina Colada's that were on my tab.  Sure enough, my hut number and my signature were prominently inscribed on the tickets....but something was just not right.  I took off my sunglasses to examine the signature more closely.  It wasn't my writing.  It wasn't Sandi's writing, but it was familiar.  It only took a few extra seconds to realize it was the hand writing of my youngest son.  
"Did my son order these?" I said to the bartender.
"The little red haired kid? Yeah that was him." 
"He's eight years old...." I said with a little bit of an edge.
"Oh, they were virgin Pina Coladas... just the mix not the rum."  Naturally the price difference between a high octane Pina and the virgin Pina was only 50 cents so it was just another sale for his shift.  
My young son had figures out that anything he might want was just a "signature" away.  
I said, "Well, in that case put another Bloody Mary on my son's tab."

Then came  the day when a wooden Tiki Statue washed up on shore of Kona Village....  To be continued.... 
Part 2 - Bubba's Death Tiki... tomorrow.  

For now,
Jay



Monday, August 28, 2017

Fly American


My friend Harry Anderson came in town over the weekend for the day to attend a funeral.  I picked him up at the airport and was amazed that he was traveling so light even for just a day's visit.  Literally he had come cross country with two small briefcases.  Both bags together were not as big as a single roll aboard and when he arrived on American Airlines he was carrying both the bags in one hand.  In fact they were of a size that both would fit easily under the seat.  But that is only the preamble to the story.
After the funeral service we headed to the airport.  On the way we stopped at Creature Features in Burbank. It is Harry's favorite store and he is arguably their biggest customer.  Of course while we were there we run into a mutual friend who is sharing the store with his friend from England.  It was serendipity, which we celebrated by continuing the conversation at the nearest pub.  Turns out it was only around the block from Creature Features. There was much conversation and since everyone is a magician but me, I heard secrets that I can't reveal lest they throw me off the Magic Castle roster of members.  So instead of commenting on that part of the trip, I will move on. 
I dropped Harry off at the airport in plenty of time to get to the gate.  But before I got home he called me to tell me what happened.  To get one of the best internet travel deals, Harry booked an arrival on American and a departure on United.  At the counter they asked how many bags he wished to check.  He held up the two small breifcases and said, "This is all I have."  That is when "traveling light" became an issue. 
It seems that this particular ticket on United did not allow for any carry-on bags. Yes you have heard that this might happen, well United has instituted this weird class of ticket.  Harry said he would pay the fee but that was not acceptable.  Even paying a checked baggage fee would not indemnify the cheap price. They said, "There is nothing we can do but check your luggage." 
When faced with rules that make no sense I too have been known to attempt use of the celebrity card. For Harry it went something like this:  "I am a magician and in these bags are part of my act.  I purposefully packed them in bags that would carry on easily. The last time I was here in LA I checked a bag and it was lost for two days. I had been inspected by TSA who did not pack it up the way it was and some of my stuff was broken."  When that fell on deaf ears he said, "Did you ever watch Night Court?"  No response, "How about the other show I did called Dave's World?"  Blank look.  "Maybe you saw one of the Saturday Night Live shows I did... maybe when I hosted?"  
The truth is these counter agents for United have not see a video screen that didn't have a reservation code and seat assignments on it in decades.  There was no way the bags would be carry on.  This conversation with these agents was a non starter. Suddenly, Harry's fairy godmother shows up.  She is a supervisor, older, more in the demographic that would have been a fan of Night Court.  Harry took a shot.  "Hi, I wonder if you can help me?"  
"OMG you are Harry Anderson. I've seen you on TV."  Selfie's came next with Harry and the supervisor.  Harry explained his delimna.  The agents countered with this logic: "Well, even if we let you go to the gate with those bags, TSA will not let you through. That ticket doesn't allow you to carry on.  They will make you check the bags and that is a bigger hassle."
Now let me say that in all my miles of traveling by air before and after the installation of the TSA, I have never heard this could happen.  The only thing TSA is looking for on your ticket is the TSA cleared stamp and if the name, day and time of the ticket is all correct. I can't imagine they know every code for every discounted ticket and what that means.  But that is the excuse the gate agents used to tell Harry he had to check his stuff.  
Harry once again explained the events of his last experience with checked baggage and once again held up the tiny carry ons.  
The supervisor looked at Harry, looked at the bags and then the agents who were holding firm on a draconian regulation. Then she said to the agents,
"Don't you guys know medical equipment when you see it" and stamped his ticket with red stamp.  She said, "You have a nice trip Mr. Anderson. " 
And that was that.  
Harry told me he thanked her and asked what would be the best thing to do if this ever comes up again.  She said, "Fly American". 
It was great to see Harry, we are like kids at camp every time we have the chance to get together.  However, I was glad this time he was flying and not me. 
As you were,
Jay

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Theatrical Post Mortem


This is a picture from last night.  It was a confusing Marquee to say the least.  It appears that a show called "Jay Johnson- One Night Only" closed a week ago after running since June 30.  It was actually a black box acoustical version of my show "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" entitled "Excess Baggage" and it played for  one night only August 19th.  Evidently they changed the name of the show and not the date/dates. To all my friends who came in spite of a dyslexic marquee, thank you.  I didn't get to visit much with anyone for very long at the post show gala.  But I knew you were there and appreciate your attendance even if I could only give you a quick hug after wards.

The one thing that I know after performing "one night only" at the Group Repertory Theater last night is this: I don't know how I did 8 of those shows a week at the Helen Hayes in New York. If anyone says, "you were younger then" they risk a verbal smack down from some wooden actors.  In those Hayes  days I would come home and write about the experience before I went to bed.  Last night I was too exhausted to sleep, much less to use my fingers for typing. But with the perspective of the "morning after" I have come to some conclusions about my show and performing it.

It's not a big theater and the sound system is mostly used as background sound effects for their productions.  I knew it was going to be a nakedly acoustic show but I also knew I could be heard clearly, even un-amplified. After all,  aren't we actors supposed to be able to do that?   I found the lack of amplification was not an issue when delivering the text of the show,  but performing the delicacies of ventriloquism was a challenge.   Being a ventriloquial purist I was shocked at how much I have become accustomed to amplification.  Not so much for the audience as for me.   More than anything, I missed stage monitors. So as not to get too technical and bore readers who are not ventriloquists here is the easy explanation. 

A distant voice requires the vent to "recreate" a sound as if it is coming from another place.  This is done by manipulating the epiglottis to change the amplitude of the sound. (See the Jay Johnson book on ventriloquism to come out soon).  It is basically a balance between diaphragm pressure and the controlled resistance of the vocal chords.  If you push too much with your diaphragm or do not have the correct tension on your chords the "distant voice" is pushed out of the sweet spot you're going for.  

For years, and certainly every time I have ever done my theatrical show, I have relied on hearing what the audience is hearing to adjust that distant voice sweet spot.  It is like singing off pitch, and if you can't hear the pitch you can't correct it.  I have to hear what the audience is hearing, not the sound  I hear in my head.  In a perfect situation I have stage monitors, second best is performing with a house audio system that allows me to adjust my hearing to the "bounce back" sound.  In this case I had neither.  I found that my training to project my voice to be heard without a mic was in direct conflict to finding that sweet spot of the distance voice.  Since I could not hear what the audience was hearing it was easy to lose the balance.  

I am sure that if I were to have more than one night in a "mic-less" theatre my ears and technique would adjust to find the sweet spot. However,  when opening night is closing night there is no chance to learn those corrections. Maybe that's what I love about performing. It doesn't matter how long you have done something or how good you try to be; there is always more to learn because every audience and every theater is different. 

The audience was wonderful and followed the journey and my story with sublimely supportive energy. They did not seem to know  my ears were continually trying to decipher what they were hearing.  I was glad to help raise some money for the theater. Perhaps an updated sound system can go into the budget.

I was lucky to have one of my co-directors in town for this show.  Murphy Cross is not only a wonderfully creative soul, she knows this show better than I do and always has the perfect perspective.  I was treading water until she stepped in and brought her incredible vision to not only the space but to my performance last night.  Her gentleness and angelic qualities are unique in the ego driven world of show business, and I will always be grateful for the Muse that brought us together.  I probably better stop my effusiveness at this point, in case Sandi is reading my blog.  However, if anyone could think more of my friend and partner Murphy Cross than me and Paul Kreppel,  it would be my wife Sandi.  
The task of repacking the show. 

I didn't make a curtain speech last night but if I had , on top of the list of people to thank would be Sandi and Murphy.  Followed by Stan Mazin, Mr. Kent, Rishie, Steve, Larry and all the people who make the Group Rep Theater function. 


For me it will be a day of trying to repack the show for the next performance. That is of course after I catch up on some rest.
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

High Crimes and Stupidism

 This is not a meme, nor is it a photoshopped picture.  I actually saw this sign at a new construction site in Rancho Cugcamonga.  To me it symbolizes the unrest this country is experiencing, we know something is wrong and we know conflict is coming, we just don't know what it yet might be.
The country is in a leadership crisis.  We are like chickens with our heads chopped off, running around with no direction.  The country needs someone who will "stand" for America and unite us like a leader is supposed to do. 
The founders of our country and the creators of the Constitution addressed the possibility that we could accidently elect a crook as President.  Crooks are usually clever enough to pull the wool over the public's eyes to get in office.  They created Impeachment so that we could get rid of the crook before destroying our Government.  
The founding Fathers assumed we might elect a person  we didn't always agree with but at least had the character and integrity to lead America.  That is why the threshold is so high for Impeachment.  We can't just Impeach a person because we don't like them.  We are a country of laws and the President has to break one of those laws for us to use the process to remove him or punish his behavior.  That is supposed to be true for EVERY American citizen.
  
None of the Constitional framers thought we might some day elect a narcissistic, racist, moron who wanted to be the Emperor rather than public servant. They never thought we would have a President who is so ignorant of what the country is and how it works.  They never imagined we would elect a liar who would threaten, bully and berate the very people he is supposed to be leading.  They never imagined we could elect a person who would praise dictators but scold Gold Star parents.  

Unfortunately, being an asshole is not a crime.  Being a lousy human example and worthless leader with no principles or agenda is also not a crime. Until a duly elected President commits an indictable crime, he stays in office.  Unless the investigation now underway finds some definite law that 45 has broken, we are stuck with him.  In light of this, unless convicted or forced to resign,  he is the de facto leader.  

Without a leader who can lead we are like a study hall class with a bad substitute teacher.  With no one to give us an example of what good behavior is supposed to look like, those students who feel emboldened by a lack of direction will attempt to take over.  They will fill the leadership gap with their own bad acts. With no one to tell them to sit down and shut up, they will continue to disrupt the rest of the class.  
Allowing and, yes, even participating in bad behavior does not clear the bar for High Crimes of a President, but it is just as destructive.  By turning your head, waiting days to condemn bad acts and bad behavior,  you are basically sanctioning it.  If you don't inoculate a virus early, it will spread, grow and destroy its host.  

Doing Corporate shows I learned something that is very true for the country today.  I noticed that if a joke was on the edge of what might be acceptable for that specific group, the crowd would look to the CEO to see if they think the joke is funny before they will laugh.  A captive audience will look to their leader to see if something is acceptable to the group.  They will follow his lead.  The country is looking to the President to see if this current behavior is acceptable. If it doesn't seem to bother the one in charge, it must be okay.

If we do not stand for something we will fall for everything. How can we combat a rogue Nuclear threat when we are not even united on who is an enemy? Ultimately this cancer on Constitution leadership is much more dangerous than North Korean nukes. 

We expect a President to be the highest example of Freedom, Liberty and Tolerance 24 hours a day 7 days a week while occupying the office. We expect them to be their absolute best, much better than they were as an average citizen.  While it is no crime to be the laziest example of the entitled American while holding the office of President, it is just as destructive to our Country.  The country is waiting for this man who occupies our executive office to "man" up and be the person the office requires.  If he will not do that then we can only hope that his behavior sinks to the level of crimes.  I personally think that is too long to wait.  

As you were,
Jay

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Poop Bags


Everyone is talking politics and nobody wants to, it just seems to occupy most of the conversation, and writings of our Era.  Not me. Not today. I have decided to discuss something different, POOP BAGS.
Bambu the wonder dog.
I will try to tell this story without using the word shit.  However, since I already wrote the word  this may be an exercise in semantics only, not good manners.  However, for the rest of this blog any word written in italics is a substitution for the word shit.
Every urban dog owner knows what a Poop bag is. As the name implies it is a portable device (bag) used to transport dog poop for a short distance to be deposited in a more socially acceptable place than left on the street.  The PB is a protective sanitary barrier between the human hand and dog doody.  It works sufficiently well for that task, usually.  Details to follow.

First off,  I don't like the name, Poop bag for a reason you might guess.  As a ventriloquist I am always aware of words that have heavy plosives consonants and difficult phonetics.  Poop begins and ends with the letter "p" which is one of the no no plosives ventriloquists struggle with.  This is followed by another word beginning with the most difficult plosive, the letter 'b" in bag.  Poop bag is not a word phrase  I would use in a stage act and would not really come up unless I inserted it into a conversation with one of my wooden american friends.  Attempting to be a consummate professional using the phrase poop bag on stage is something I would not do.
The problem of the name was solved recently by my friend Mary Willard.  She gave me some poop bags imprinted with the face of Donald Trump.  The bags are called... dumps for Trump.  So now I just refer to the poop bags as "trumps".  Technically there is a "p" (plosive) at the end of the word trump but for some reason it doesn't bother me to slur that name just a little bit. 
Everyone has their own way of dealing with a trump.  I think I am over cautious in sealing the tump with a good knot in the top of the bag so no accidental contact with the contents can occur.  But for me, tying a knot in a thin plastic bag is difficult.  Over the years of walking dogs I have developed a technique to accomplish the important part of securing the trump.  I twist the top of the thin plastic until it becomes more rope like than bag like, since it is much easier to tie rope than a flat surface. I have even perfected a way to spin the bag using the weight of the contents to twist the top into a cord. After that a knot is easy to maneuver.  With practice the "rope spin"  can be done with one hand.  
This method works efficiently... most of the time.  However when I explain the physics of this technique you will see that there is a flaw in execution.  Twisting the top of the bag causes the package to condense and compact into a tight bundle.  The inertia of the spinning causes the contents to lose it's relative position and order in the cosmos.  It also puts pressure on the trump which it was not designed to handle.  If there is a weak seam, or god forbid a hole in the bag, the deliverable inside the bag squirts out like the last contents of a toothpaste tube, which the law of odds states will happen one out of a hundered times.  When it occurs you find yourself blocks from home with your dog on a leash and dirt on your hands if not your shirt. It is not a pleasant experience.  
So now in addition to walking the dog with plenty of trumps, I also have to carry sanitary baby wipes for the occasional emergency.  Leash, sun screen, a hat, walking shoes, sun glasses, water, trumps and baby wipes are now on the check list before Boo and I can leave the house.  I sometimes feel like Batman suiting up to fight crime every time Boo wants to take a walk. But once again the name Baby Wipes contains two "b's" and a "p" another ventriloquial nightmare.  So, today I came up with the work around solution.  Instead of Baby Wipes, I call them Muellers. Muellers are made to clean up the mess that a trump makes when the pressure causes a breach. Pressure on the thin skinned trump can sometimes cause the contents to spew forth from a nasty break in integrity.  So in addition to carrying Muellers I take one more safety precaution. I check the flaccid trump for imperfections. I inspect the trumps very carefully for tears and holes, I call them tweets, in the plastic skin. 
My suggestion to all dog walkers is to never leave home with out some Muellers just in case the trump fails to do what it is supposed to do; which is be responsible for the stuff it is supposed to keep inside.  
As you were,
Jay

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Fox and his Hen house

You can't really see the energy and power generated by nuclear fusion, but you can see the reactor where it happens.  Such is the case with the nuclear talents of Charles Fox.   One can open their ears and their minds to hear the incredible gift of Charlie Fox, but to SEE it one must visit the factory where it is generated. Such was the case a few days ago when I was invited into the "sanctum" of the Fox.
The studio has all the tools one needs to write music, score films, compose operas and arrange orchestral beauty.  There is a huge mixing board in front of a large flat screen, cabinets filled with arrangements and charts, audio media of every kind and a play back system to access it. There are platinum records, prestigious awards and pictures of Charlie with every musical talent in a who's who of show business. 
In the opposite corner of the room from the mixer is a desk that could belong to any executive.  Perpendicular to the desk accessible with the turn of his chair is a 9' Steinway Grand Piano. Even among the Emmy and Grammy awards and impressive electronics this beautiful instrument stands out.  The only time a guy like me might see a 9' Steinway Grand is from a cheap seat at Disney Concert Hall.  In this case, however, I was not alone in my appreciation of this beautiful instrument, standing next to Charlie and me is Richard Sherman.  Not the Seattle Seahawk football player Richard Sherman but Richard M. Sherman the Disney composer and legend.  That word legend is kicked around a lot but if the word ever applied to any person it applies to both the men I find myself standing with at this moment.   
Richard and Charlie's "other woman"

As Richard walks around the desk to briefly play this beautiful piano, Charlie's wife walks into the studio.  She notices that I am stunned by what is happening before my eyes and says, "Oh I see you have met the other woman."  
Richard finishes a musical  riff with a bass chord that shakes the room.  As the vibration begins to slowly fade Richard says, "She is beautiful". As he starts to continue this musical romance, Elizabeth Sherman says, "You've played enough Richard." In my twisted mind I hear her say, "Get away from that other woman, Richard."  What I saw was the instant connection between a musician and a beautiful instrument.
My Dad used to say he was the luckiest guy in the world. Dad was wrong, he RAISED the luckiest guy in the world. I am the luckiest guy in the world. To stand next to two high priests in Fox Music Temple was exciting, humbling and inspiring.  Genius comes in many packages, and sometimes that package is not tightly wrapped.  To find the core of their genius you sometimes have to peel away layers of onion skin that protect that creative spark.  Not so with these two men.  To know them is to love them and I am blessed that I can call them both my friends.
However, there is nothing so inspired that a ventriloquist can't screw up.  The next day I sent and email to my friends to thank them for a wonderful evening.  I wrote to Charlie and Joan, "I was delighted to meet Charlie's "other woman".  Given that my dyslexic perceptions are sometimes corrected by auto text in my favor, this was a time when the computer corrections did not save me.  Rather than write "delighted to meet Charlie's "other woman" the text actually said "delighted to meet Charlie's "MOTHER woman".  I did not notice the error until after the email was sent.  I immediately sent another email explaining the error.  Joan wrote back to say, she was glad to read the corrected text and glad that there wasn't also another "mother woman" in Charlie's life.  Charlie simply signed his email response with the phrase Charlie and the Mother woman.  
It was just one moment in an evening with the Foxes, the Shermans, the Johnsons and the Willards (Fred and Mary).  Moments of extreme laughter, great show business stories and talk of music and comedy punctuated the dinner.  Those moments are not to write about here, but they are for me to hold close and cherish in the memory of my creative soul.  I celebrate the artistry of this company and embrace the blessing of having been put into an orbit that brings me close to such genius.  
As you were,
Jay
Charlie, Richard and Elizabeth (who asked me if I could photoshop her to appear taller) 

Friday, June 30, 2017

What is Too Far?

For a man who battles depression, and struggles to maintain his life at the top of his emotional roller coaster instead of the bottom, times are tough for yours truly. Every morning I wake up to a world that is reeling from yet another Trump tweet.  Every evening the Washington Post publishes yet another discovery that Trump is an invasive species of sociopath who wants to run the country as his own personal golf course.  This is the pattern in which we all find ourselves immersed daily.  

It is a constant rub on my sense of decency, civility, tolerance and spirituality.   I keep thinking that if enough people become aware of what a total failure Trump  is as a leader, moral example and human being, the masses will run him out of town on a rail.  And yet he continues to be defended by a cadre of sycophants who have to compromise their own integrity to even comment. 
When asked if she thought the President went too far in this tweet about a television commentator, Sarah Huckleberry Panders, said, "No he didn't go too far."  Well, Huckleberry, what is 'too far' in your purchased opinion? For me he tweeted too far in accusing his predecessor of being a Kenyan Muslim five years ago, but then my morals are not for rent.
What I fear most is that this constant assault on my idea of how a President should behave is creating a callus on my sense of morality.  Eventually that part of my emotions gets so tough, I no longer know what it really feels like to be outraged.  Perhaps this is why I will continue to write about this blight until he  is exorcised from our country.  Even as I do this I realize the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  I feel bad that my persistence might be a display of insanity which causes depression and I quickly fall to be bottom of my emotional roller coaster.  And now this Meglomaniac and his Congressional minions are trying to take away access to the meds and treatment we all need to tolerate the things they are doing to our country.  In the words of Shakespeare. "Ah there is the rub."
When will someone remove this stone from our shoe before our country loses its footing.
As you were,
Jay


Friday, June 23, 2017

24/7 Trump

I was talking to a friend this morning about the business of shows, show business.  We determined that there are two types of people who seek the path of show business.  Some go into the world of entertainment because they want to express their desire to make ART.  Others go into show business to wallow in FAME.  Although that distinction is not so easily quantified and the line gets blurred the two ideas come from two completely different perspectives.
Not until this administration, now dubbed the Trump Era, did I realize that the world of politics has fostered similar personality traits.  There are two kinds of people who seek a political career.  Some go into government because they have a desire to help make our democracy stronger.  Others go into politics to wallow in wealth and FAME.  
I don't know anything about politics, I have never been interested in running for any office. Some of the reasons are: I do not feel like I am qualified, I do not have a burning desire nor any talent in that area. But I now see if I lacked a desire for Artistic expression I might want to go into politics, if fame was my goal. I can see now, thanks to the Trump Era madness, that some politicians today want fame more than they want to do the job of governing.  
Silent Auction Item at LA Charity
Total number of bids on Trump Collage.....


Mr. Trump is not interested in Making America Great. He does not care about helping Americans who can't afford to joint his Golf clubs. He even said exactly those words in a rally this week. He thinks rich people are better suited for the job of governing than poor people that is why his cabinet is the single richest body of  profiteers ever assembled in one administration.  It is not unlike the Russian model of Oligarchy where the rich dictator gets to assign lucrative, highly profitable businesses to his friends.  Then the dictator makes sure the "government" does not interfere with regulations that might keep the people safe but impede profits.  That is not a politician nor a leader that is a monopoly granter. 
Trumps motives are even less ingenuous.  All he wants is the fame of being the "leader". He doesn't want to earn the title he simply wants the title "bestowed" upon him. He wants to dominate the conversation, not to stimulate the discussion toward a negotiated goal, but simply to hog the fame for himself.  He is by personality and experience the worst kind of person we could have as any sort of leader.  Trump is the very kind of carpetbagger and tycoon the government should be protecting Americans from.  
His lies are not even good ones.  He lies about things that can be disproved with a smart phone, and disputed by his own words.  He has no care that he is caught in a lie, the fact a lie caused people to talk about him fulfills his need for adoration and attention.  The lesson of "The little Boy who Cried Woof" is totally lost on Mr. Trump.  The lying boy is mauled and in some versions eaten by the wolf because no one believes him when he actually does speak the truth.  Mr. Trump is setting himself up to be eaten alive by the lies he is telling.  That in itself is of no concern to me.  I believe in Karma and ultimate justice.  "God has a way of bringing down the over-bearing, God's dice are always loaded."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson.   Unfortunately I am not the one to deliver the retribution to this ego maniac and may not live long enough to see it happen, but it will.  
My fear is that the wolf will not be satisfied to just eat the cheeto flavored blubber that is our tar baby president, I fear he will continue to hunger until more than just the rich assholes are devoured.  
There are no tapes of the Trump/ Comey conversation. If they did ever exist, 41 days of speculation is enough time to summon Rosemary Woods from the grave to accidentally erase the content.  So in absence of any evidence to the contrary are we going to believe a career man in law enforcement who has a sterling reputation for telling the Truth, or a known liar who lies about every aspect of his life.  Hello Karma... this is a no- brainier.  
Here is the dilemma for me.  With 24/7 Trump on every news cast, and every comic who has a daily monologue writing jokes about the Orange wonder, I am bereft of any inspiration to write about most anything else.  What is the point?  If I had information about him that no one knew, I might have a motive for commentary.  I don't.  All I know is what I see him doing, saying and how he is behaving. It seems wrong on every detail. If his supporters won't even acknowledge that the Emperor is  naked, why am I preaching to the saved?  Is there nothing the orange embarrassment can do that would sully their blind faith in this extremely unqualified human.  
His obsessive need to be the dominate headline even if it is due to a lie or his own stupidity has a sour affect on the thinking of the world.  I have a hard time seeing anything funny when this guy is in charge.  Now I have a cousin who will say, "Yeah, but we suffered through 8 years of the same thing, so it is your turn."  To that cousin I would say... "No you didn't".  Late night television was not obsessed with the stupidity of our President back then. They saw humor when it was there, and irony if it was relevant, it was not Obama 24/7. There were no scandals, no special prosecutors, no question of the integrity of the elections, we had a complete government, and an articulate intelligent representative in the White House. But again, my cousin would not be able to see that any more than the fact that Cheeto is completely naked.
I don't thing the governmental process is swift enough to get Trump out of office before the next election.  I think too many in government are using the narcissism of the President to feed their own desire for fame.  Hello... Karma, bring a large van...
So I will try harder to find things of interest, humor or value to write about.  Trump is a bore and a boar, and I am tired of seeing his face.  I would hope he would just fade into the sunset of bad politicians, but he is not qualified even to be a bad politician.  Although I would not like to see his body hung at a gas station upside down so the masses could use him for a pi├▒ata (like his doppelganger Mussolini), I would like to see Karma be as swift with judgment of him.  But perhaps the worst thing I can do to Mr. Trump is dismiss him.  I shall ignore him as much as possible and at least not perpetuate his desire to be famous.  Mr. Trump your 15 minutes has expired. Please go away now.
As you were,
Jay

Friday, June 09, 2017

Perhaps "The World is a Circus."

 If Shakespeare was alive today instead of writing the line "The world is a stage and all of us are players," he would have written "The world is a Circus and all of us are clowns."  
It is impossible to crawl inside the mind of THIS President, although there is apparently a lot of room in there, but I shall try just to imagine what his narcissistic logic might look like concerning the firing of Comey. 
But first let's see what has been happening "outside" of that "mind". 
During a campaign he seemed to be losing last year, Trump's mantra was "Lock her up".  He insisted that we shouldn't  have a President who might become involved in a criminal investigation regarding her emails.  In July of last year James Comey gave a press conference saying that Mrs. Clinton was "careless" but not to the level of criminal charges.  It was seen as a great boost to the Clinton campaign and potentially the end of several years of intense Congressional investigation into her actions.
Then came the election.  Russia was even then being investigated for election hacking and voting influence.  During the Presidential transition period there were Trump associates ( and family) still  having questionable contact with Russians.  The investigation continued until Sally Yates (Acting Attorney General) came to inform Mr. Trump that Michael Flynn was a big target of investigation.  Flynn resigned (was fired) under pressure and then Sally Yates was fired.  Jeff Sessions was confirmed and appointed AG, now incharge of the DOJ.  The Russian inquiry continued and it was determined that Sessions omitted or lied about contacts he had with Russian agents during his confirmation.  He did not resign, he recused himself from all Russian matters.  
Now back inside the spacious mind of 45.  He is thinking, everyone is talking about this "Russian thing".  There is a cloud of suspicion all around me and the investigation of Flynn continues in the background.  He decided that a loyalty oath from Comey was needed.  He didn't get it.  He continues to attempt "grooming" Comey and asks him if HE, Trump himself is part of the investigation?  This is key to the Trumpeirian narcissistic world.  How is this Russian Thing affecting ME.  According to Trump, his Attourney and confirmed by Comey, three times (a Biblical number) Trump got assurance he was not currently part of an investigation.  Then Trump says to Comey he wishes Comey would announce that fact to the world. This desire to be "vindicated" was expressed several times.
Back outside in the light of day,  Comey is rudely and ham fistedly fired.  The reason stated, in a letter, says he was fired because of his handeling of the Clinton investigation.  But there are contemporaneous notes of the Presidential conversations taken specifically because Comey believed Trump would lie about the conversation. The Clinton investigation was never mentioned in these conversations, only the Russian probe.  A day later Trump tells the world in a television interview that Comey was really fired over "this Russia thing".  The Comey notes are made public and Comey testifies before and open hearing in Congress, yesterday.  
Now everyone is concentrating on the more juicy sections of the conversations between Comey and Trump.  Looming big is  "obstruction of justice" that might haven occurred when he asked Comey to "Let the Flynn thing go".  
News pundits believe that Comey was fired because he wouldn't walk back his Flynn/Russia investigation.  Obstruction of justice? or the actions of an inexperienced numbskull.  Either one prove to be the actions of a man not qualified nor fit to be President.

But there is a more narcissistic explanation for the Comey firing and it does not involve Flynn.  As we have seen,  Trump does not hesitate to throw any associate under the bus if it makes Trump look better.  He has no loyalty to Flynn. He is not concerned that Flynn might be a traitor as long as Trump enjoys big ratings and large crowds.  Like his reality show experience, Flynn has been fired... written out, gone,  no longer a part of the Trump circus.  One contestant is gone, no big deal. 
So, why did the he fire Comey?  You have to think in the most personal of terms when dealing with a narcissist.  It wasn't about Flynn it was about Trump. Comey was fired because he would not publicly state that TRUMP was not under investigation.  Comey did it for Hillary, he would certainly do it for the man who beat her in the election, wouldn't he?  Why wouldn't he call News Conference to say that Trump is not under investigation?  He wouldn't, he didn't, he's fired.  Simple as that.  

Never assume there is obstruction, or incompetence involved in a decision when you can explain it by pure ego-centric narcissism, especially in the case of Trump.

In a circus the clowns perform until the Ringmaster blows a whistle signaling that the next act is ready.  When will someone finally blow that whistle and get these clowns out of the ring?

As you were,
Jay