Any actor will tell you.
It’s a cardinal rule.
It’s right up there with “Know your lines” and “Don’t bump into the furniture.”
I think it’s even before “Make sure your zippers up.”
Jimmy Stewart famously added “Wear your own shoes and speak the truth."
But all actors agree one of the most fundamental rules is “Always check your props.”
I guess I was distracted.
In Kooza I use what looks like a big T-bone steak as a slapstick to keep the other two clowns in check. In the early “Clown Magic” sequence the steak is put into service to slap not only my madcap sidekicks but also is given to a Volunteer/Victim from the audience to hit me myself.
The slaps are accompanied by a fantastic sound effect that sounds like a punch from one of those early kung fu movies. Our bandleader Seth Stachowski and his near clairvoyant timing ensures each hit is supported with a resounding “Krunck!”
But if you forget the steak…
I imagine the look on my face as I reached into my “Butt Pouch” for the steak and found nothing could only be described as “Blanched.”
Talk about Pointe Fixe!
With no steak I went with what was handy: My Hand.
(It was doing nothing there on the end of my arm so I figured why not?)
This worked well enough- and Seth was right on it as usual but then it came time to hand the weapon- which was supposed to be a steak but was now my hand- to the Victim.
Houston, we have a problem.
Normally I hand the steak to the Victim and say “My turn!” and she slaps me with it. Too far in now to abort, I placed her hand around my wrist and hit myself in the face!
Have you heard the sound of 2600 people cocking their heads in confusion?
Apparently word of my gaff spread through the big top like a wildfire on speed. By the time I made it backstage I had already heard:
“Don’t worry, Ronnie. It’s a rare mis- steak!”
“Where’s the beef?”
“We’re just ribbing you!”
While waiting behind a curtain before my next entrance a technician emerged out of the darkness and asked “Are you a vegetarian?”
At lunch between shows (They were of course serving steak) Riccardo, one of the culinary geniuses who prepare our meals came over to ask if I needed any more helpings, giggling his way back to the kitchen.
Forgetting to check my props is far from a common thing with me. I must have been just too distracted by all that is going on back here behind the Bataclan. At least that’s the excuse I’m using.
Always check your props.