Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"A Coupla Crybabies"

My daughter Anna said she did not remember seeing The Pickle Family Circus.

She did not recall our young family sitting cross-legged on the boardwalk of the Santa Monica Pier, watching this itinerant, one ring ensemble of a dozen or so performers, some of them quite young, juggling, tumbling and clowning around, sometimes dressed in gorilla suits, to the squealing enthrallment of children of all ages.  

Anna did not remember the Head Clown and Leader of the Pack, opening the show by trudging onstage, weighed (humorously) down by his burden, an oversized wooden trunk suspended ponderously on his back. 

She did not remember the clown’s signature routine, where he would blow up a red balloon tied to a string, and just as he was about to deliver it to an eager young audience member, the balloon would escape his grasp, flying up, and off into the distance. 

The “payoff” was that, after numerous failed attempts, the clown finally had control of the balloon.  But as he headed over to the eager young audience member, he suddenly “tripped”, did a 360-flip in the air, and then fell, the weight of his body bursting the balloon on the ground.

Dr. M loves small circuses, and so do it.  I also enjoy  the “Three-Ring” extravaganzas, but the little circuses seem more personal and immediate, freeing the spectator from the arm’s length distancing of sequins and spectacle, and allowing them to engage more intimately with the performers, doing their thing virtually “touching distance” in front of them.

The stage show we took the family to see (our squad, with sons-in-laws, now expanded to six adults) was called Humor Abuse, a one-man show featuring the son of Larry Pisoni – the co-originator of The Pickle Family Circus and its Premier Clown – the son’s name being Lorenzo Pisoni. 

Through narrative and demonstration, Lorenzo tells the story of growing up “a Pickle”, debuting at the age of two (performing during intermissions), joining the troupe as a contracted participant when he was six.  When his Dad left the show, though only eleven, Lorenzo began performing Larry’s trademark routines.  By age twelve, he was inventing original ones of his own.

The show is extremely entertaining, but in keeping with its title, Humor Abuse, it includes excruciating anecdotes concerning Lorenzo being’s drilled mercilessly to perfect his performance, in an act that included many endangering sequences (like falling down the stairs carrying luggage.) 

Preparation for an “entrance” would inevitably find little Lorenzo locked inside a trunk, frequently wearing a “gorilla suit” (often in the sweltering summer) in the company of helium balloons always threatening to burst, plus, on numerous occasions, a “dummy duplicate” of himself. 

We are also told about a pre-teen Lorenzo traveling alone on the road, eating his meals by himself, separated from his family for months, their only source of contact the pre-stamped and addressed envelopes in which Lorenzo was instructed to send letters while he was away. 

At one point, responding to the mounting accumulation of traumatizing horrors, I turned to my psychologist wife and inquired,

“Is this, like, a cry for help?”

Despite his many youthful ordeals, which he has obviously survived, what we witnessed that day was an impeccably executed event, the story moving and fascinating, the injected comedy bits, jaw-dropping and hilarious. 

In the finale, Lorenzo reprised Larry’s most identifiable moments – trudging (humorously) onstage with the trunk on his back – paying tribute to his father with “The Runaway Balloon.”

Our family had not sat together.  It was the two of us separate, and the other four on the opposite side of the arena.  When we reassembled in the lobby, there was  unanimous enthusiasm for the performance we had just seen. 

Then, before we moved on, Rachel drew to our attention that Anna was crying.  I looked up to see my thirty-year old daughter bawling her eyes out, oblivious to the presence of exiting theatergoers.

Seeing Anna so distraught, I rushed over and threw my arms around her.  Only before I did so, another thing happened first.

I found myself crying as hard as Anna was.

It was both startling and embarrassing.

What had incited this spontaneous duo-deluge?

“I remembered, Dad”, Anna explained between sobs.

“Me too”, I replied.

We clung to each other tightly.

A Dad and his daughter.

Blubbering in the lobby.
This marks my 1500th post.  As Jackie Mason used to say, "I'd like to wish myself the best of luck."  And I'd like to thank whoever's out there for dropping by.  I sincerely give you the best I've got.  I can only hope to gosh that it shows.

Thanks again for your comments and support.  Next stop: 2000.


Canda said...

Your best is far ahead of most everyone else.

Stephanie @ Athlete at Heart said...

That is a beautiful story. I am only one person but I've been reading your blog for 4 years and I love it:)

Frank said...

Can't wait to wish you a happy two grand Earl!