Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pinch Me Hard

Pinch me.
Pinch me hard.

I want to know this is real but it feels like a fabulous dream.

After my plane was delayed at the San Francisco airport, (A Ron-delay?) sitting on the tarmac for two and a half hours while the captain occasionally gave us status reports:

“A fifteen cent bolt was replaced with the wrong one back at the hanger so we’re looking for the right one. We checked the red tray in the parts box but the paperwork didn’t match up so we went back to the hanger and we’re checking the parts locker over near the vending machine we have. There’s an outside chance we’ll find it in the gray cabinet at the bottom drawer- We’ll keep you posted.”

That is a direct quote.

Presumably they give you all this detail to put your mind at ease.
Dear American Airlines,
It doesn’t work.

“This is your captain speaking again. We’ve sent someone over to the supply room on the south side of the runway and we’re in contact with him via walkie-talkie. His name is Carl and he’s wearing a red baseball cap because it is a bit nippy out there-“

Will you shut up?!

So we finally get under way but it’s too late for me to make my connection at Ohare so I spend the night in Chicago and fly out to Montreal the next day.

Luckily getting my work permit goes off without a hitch and my luggage is waiting for me at the airport. Benoit, the fedora clad driver from Cirque du Soleil takes me to headquarters and it begins.

Apparently when you join a company like this they like to know what they’re getting.

In the past 2 days I’ve had a physical examination, a baseline brain test- (so if I have a concussion on the job they can give it to me again to see if I’ve got a hitch in my mental git-along) and I’ve had my full head cast. Through this all my heart is racing. Is this really happening? Somebody pinch me! Please!

Head in clouds, heart in throat.

I’ve had a shoe fitting. They are completely custom.

Can you say butter?

Then I have a make up test with designer Florence Cornet. We're going with a kind of Don Quixote look which I love:

Okay, maybe a little more Don Knotts than Don Quixote but you get the idea.

A wig fitting.

Can you say Plastic Man?

And a full head cast. Quite shocking to see yourself in such detail.

Two Rons don't make a right.

Finally I am introduced to my personal clown coach Roch. Great guy. He was an actor, became an acrobat and is now a clown. (I guess I’m skipping the acrobat stage.) Now he teaches clowning to “at risk” kids around Canada for Cirque. And me. Am I “at risk” too?

So they put Roch and I in a room with a bunch of props and we start hammering out the funny.
At last my training begins.
But come to think of it, I’ve been training for this all my life.
Maybe it started 40 something years ago when I stood at the end of a diving board somewhere in the San Fernando Valley and begged my dad to “Shoot me! Shoot me!” and fell into the water with legs and arms akimbo. When I got to the surface they were laughing. Hmmm.

(In those days I didn't dream of being a clown or even an actor when I grew up. I wanted to be a stunt man like my dad’s friend Hal Needham who created Stunts Unlimited.)

I heard an interview with Leonard Cohen shortly before leaving San Francisco. He quoted a Zen saying that may be apropos: "Leap and the net will appear."

Now here I am diving into another pool entirely, body akimbo, head in the clouds, heart in my throat, but instead of yelling “Shoot me! Shoot me!” I’m saying:

“Pinch me.”

“Pinch me hard.”


Anonymous said...

That sounds amazing; Clowning is so much fun and I hope to see you during your run!

Thom McFadden said...

The Woodland Hills are alive with buzzing about your upcoming shows and when we will see You. No, I am sorry there buzzing about your black and blue marks from your Pinching.You are a Star enjoy the role.