Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pickin & Grinnin’ Part 2

Blogger's Note: Sorry it's taken me so long to publish "part 2" of the story about my day in Nashville on February 13. The part half of the story may not be exciting to most of you but I really enjoyed the show and meeting one of my ventriloquist "heroes" did me a world of good. Hope you enjoy this post. 

Still amazed by the fact that I had just gotten to meet and have my picture taken with Mike Wolf from American Pickers I headed toward the downtown area so I could shoot across town to my next destination. I was going to Zanies comedy club to see ventriloquist Taylor Mason.

I first saw Taylor at Zanies in July 2008. That was a year before my weight loss surgery. Here's the picture I had taken with him. And in case you ask...yes, that really is me.

Me and Taylor Mason @ Zanies
Thursday July 17, 2008
The reason I decided to go to see him again was because I wanted the chance to talk with him after the show. At the time I was about ¾ of the way through reading his book, “The Complete Idiots Guide to Ventriloquism.”  It’s an excellent book for those who want to learn about being a “vent” from the ground up.

There’s a solid education on learning to perform, where to get stage time, and how to live, thrive, and survive in show business as a ventriloquist. I want to tell him in person that I was really enjoying his book and appreciated all the joke writing tips.

The other reason I wanted to go is that I needed a booster shot of enthusiasm to get my ventriloquist career moving again. I decided seeing one of my favorite vents working in front of a live audience would do the trick. .  

Because Zanies is usually closed on Monday nights (this was a special engagement in the club’s “clean comedy” series) the room wasn’t very crowded so I got to sit at a small table near the back of the room by myself. I had a good view of not only the stage but of the entire audience as well.

The opening act was a comedian named Paula Aldrich. I’ve seen him before but only on one of my comedy DVDs.

He’s a very funny and talented performer who writes and sings comedy songs. What makes his act so good is that he’s an excellent guitar player.

He told us that he just recently moved from Los Angeles to Tennessee. He sang a song about the people he’s met since he’s been here.

His last song was probably his best. It featured impressions of various musical artists singing their unique version of “Kumbya”.

Up next up was Taylor Mason. His act was basically the same as the last time I saw him. The first thing he did was get the audience involved. He encouraged us respond to a musical cue he played on his keyboard by yelling out “Here we go!”

He talked with family sitting on the right side of the stage that was from Houston, Texas. He did some jokes about them. He then talked with a woman sitting right down in front. She said she was a nurse. Taylor used that as for several punch lines throughout the show.

After about 10 or 15 minutes he brought out his puppets. His first was Paco his pig. He also brought out another pig (I forget the character’s name) that I had never seen before.

He did some jokes with them. This included getting the nurse to pull on Paco’s legs. That’s something Paula got to do the last time we saw Taylor at Zanies.

He used 3 other puppets in the act: Romeo, Juliet, and Sumo, a big Japanese wrestler puppet.
The finale of his act was bringing several audience members up on stage to work his puppets while he did their voices. This has been a part of his act for so long he’s really good at improvising.

To end the show Taylor brought Paul Aldrich back on stage and the two of them had a really cool “jam session”.

After the show I waited a few minutes to talk to Taylor. I talk with him about his book and mentioned the joke writing skills it taught. He told me he paid particular attention to that part of the book. Finally I got my picture taken with him once again.

Taylor & Me
Almost 4 Years Later
As I walked toward the exit to leave I saw Paul Aldrich standing near the door talking to people as they left. I talked to him telling him I liked the song he sang using the music from the classical piece “Dance Of The Hours”. That’s the same music Alan Sherman used for his song “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.”

He laughed and pointed out the fact that the song is “a parody of a parody based on a piece of classical music.”

I signed up for his email mailing list. I told him that I thought in one particular part of his act I saw the influences of Jerry Lewis and Steve Martin in his act. As a matter of fact he looks a bit like Steve Martin.

After talking with Paul for a few minutes I left the club. My time in Nashville was over. About 9:15 I accelerated onto the northbound lanes of I-65 and headed for home.

For the second time in a little more than 2 weeks I had gotten to see and talk with someone who has been an influence to me in my ventriloquist career.

In the darkness of the highway thinking about the coincidence of meeting Mike Wolfe at the Antique Archeology store earlier that day was still a bit hard to believe. But a scrolling review of the pictures on my camera provided the evidence that it was a reality.

I have been to Nashville countless times and dramatic life changing things have happened to me there.  But I must admit my day in “Music City USA” on Monday February 13, 2012 will always rank as one of the best. 

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