Friday, January 30, 2009

YOU DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO

About a year before I got my job on Animaniacs I was dead broke. I remember my wife and I searching through our couch to find loose change so we could buy an 'Oh Boy" pizza. For those of you who have never had an 'Oh Boy' pizza, just know that they came frozen in packages of 2. They cost 2 dollars. It wasn't so much a pizza. It was a pizza product.

I was performing with the ACME Comedy group at the time. I was buying costumes and wigs and props and charging it to the credit card. One day my wife pointed out that we had no money to pay for all these things. I had to get some income. Quick.

A few of us at ACME were in the same boat. Although some situations were more dire than others. Mine was dire. Deeply dire. Depressingly dire.

I read in an acting magazine that a company was hiring performers for children's parties. How bad could that be? I was already performing at ACME twice a week. I can do that. Of course I can do that. I think I can do that.

Auditions for the job were the next day. I talked it up to other members of the ACME troupe. We should all go. It'll be fun. Nobody took the bait. Nobody but Adam Carolla. Frankly, I don't think he actually took the bait, I think he just went to see how stupid this was going to be and perhaps to give me moral support.

Luckily for Adam, the audition went beyond stupid towards the sublime. About 20 of us role-played, pranced around stupidly and learned how to make balloon animals. Halfway through, Adam and I started laughing. The sort of laugh you laugh in church. The laugh that won't stop. Finally, he gave up and stood in the back of the room. Adam was out. 

I, however, needed the gig. I was in.

The company had all sorts of costumes of different characters that they provided for specific parties. However, because of copyright issues, the characters couldn't be called something like "Winnie The Pooh", but had to be called, "Chubby Honey Bear." The "Ninja Turtles" couldn't be called that and were instead called, "Karate Kicking Turtle People" or something like that.

The "Ninja Turtles" were really big at the time and that's what I got stuck with the most. 

The day before my very first party, I went and got my costume from the company. I took it home and tried it on. It was basically a body tight with a fake, styrofoam shell. Then, I put the head on. The head. Oooooh. That head. 

It smelled worse in there than I can possibly describe. Actually, I could describe it, but you'd be sick. There was no way I was going to wear that head. I bought some Woolite, filled up the tub and soaked the head.

The next morning I got up and took the head out of the tub. I tried to dry it. Unfortunately, the head was never meant to be washed and was now more like a green, spongy, blob that sagged all over. It looked like one of the Turtles had been a victim of a massive shotgun wound to the temple. AND, it still smelled.

The party that day was in a very bad part of Los Angeles. BAD. I got there early and parked my car a block away. I had a half hour to kill so I just waited in the car...in costume. I didn't put on the head. I didn't want to be in that disgusting, squishy head longer than I had to. 

As I waited in the car, another car pulled up behind me. Two tough looking guys were in the front seat. They stared at me. I started getting nervous. Great. I'm gonna be shot in a turtle costume. How humiliating. 

Finally they got out of the car and walked to my car. Great. Perfect. I'm dead! I'm a dead turtle! One of the guys came up to my window. He tapped on the glass. Great. Perfect. Dead, dead, turtle.

He flashed his badge. He was an undercover cop and he wanted to know why I was just sitting in my car. I said I was waiting to do a children's party down the street. I picked up the head on the seat next to me.

He looked at me. Then at his partner. He looked at the head. Then he said, "I'm sorry." The "I'm sorry" wasn't a sorry about disturbing me. It was an "I'm sorry" you're so broke that you've dressed up like a turtle. The "I'm sorry" was an I'm sorry you're about to get the sh#@ beat out of you by young boys who are going to be VERY disappointed by your cruddy costume.  

And he was right. As soon as I walked through the door the boys could see by my cruddy costume that I wasn't real. They spent the next hour tormenting the homeless man in the stupid turtle suit. 

I spent the next five months driving from one side of LA to the other doing parties. I was mostly turtles. Sometimes I was Pooh. (I passed out as Pooh in the hot LA Summer.) I was Peter Pan once. That was horrible. 

The last party I ever did was in a park. I was Batman. Halfway through the party I saw a man standing next to a tree. He was laughing. He started waving, "Hi, Batman! Hi!!! Good party Batman!" 

It was Adam Carolla. He was beckoning me back to join the real world, regain my dignity and forever leave the land of childrens' parties behind. And, their smelly heads.

13 comments:

  1. While I never had the pleasure of purchasing Oh Boy pizza, I have scraped for the Totinos pizzas which are 10 for $10 on most occasions. In fact, I still do that. This whole DVD business makes me urpy.

    In other news speaking of the DVD business:

    http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Freakazoid-Season-2/11226

    :)

    -Troy

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  2. I'll bet you were still a better Batman than George Clooney.

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  3. What made you recall that today I wonder?

    You ever watch "Married With Children"? [Sure ya have.] There was an episode where the kids were hungry but they were, of course, horribly poor and devoid of food. They were fighting over what they called, "Toaster Leavenz", little scraps of God know's what at the bottom of the toaster.
    When I was a kid, there were many times when I was living off the equivalent of "toaster leavenz" You have my pitty. And being homeless isn't so bad when people don't mind you sleeping in their floor. [Also speaking from personal experience.]

    I'm sorry you had to dress up for kids parites. I bet you would have been more popular if you were allowed to show up as yourself and help out the parents, and just sort of hang out with the kids. Less violence that way.

    [Troy, I think I linked that to his last journal already. :x]

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  4. I'm 25 now...but I'm still scarred from this experience during my eighth birthday:

    The party was at my mother's house in Los Angeles. The Ninja Turtle Guy (he was wearing the tights and puffy green head -- it was NOT really Donatello) fell over an end table and let out this piercing cry the thought of which still sends shivers up my spine. He had cracked his knee on the slump stone along the base of the fireplace and he was howling in pain, holding his knee and rocking back and forth like a polar bear at the zoo. Unable to get a clear look at his wound -- which was bleeding all over my mom's new carpet -- he pulled off his head to inspect his knee more closely. That's when my friends and I saw that "Donatello" was some blonde pasty guy who apparently couldn't take a fairly standard blow to the knee. My best pal Ricky Resinetti grabbed the guy's fake Ninja Turtle head and put it on and started running around and wouldn't give me a turn wearing it. The Ninja Turtle guy started yelling at us, and some of the kids started crying. Eventually I had a total meltdown. I flipped out, cried, screamed, pushed my untouched birthday cake off the table to the floor where it smashed into gooey pieces. I was sent to my room for the night. The party was cancelled on the spot and my birthday was not celebrated again for years, and then, only as an occasion to drink heavily.

    So that was you, huh?

    We got some issues to discuss.

    Duane Brockman
    Chino, CA

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  5. Takineko,
    No idea why that all popped into my head this morning. Gotta go with the flow, I guess...

    However, since posting, I've remembered one more. It didn't happen to me, though.

    After a few months they hired a new guy. His first party was at a park. He went up to the family, did his hour's wroth of "fun" then gave the dad the bill. Turns out, he was at the wrong park, and the that was the wrong family. They had just assumed he was some nut who came and did parties for people at the park.

    Least it wasn't me...

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  6. Duane,

    I promise that wasn't me. Even though I'm (was) a blonde pasty guy, I WOULD NEVER TAKE MY HEAD off in front of the kids...even if suffering a major pulmonary embolism. I'm a professional.

    I was kicked in the groin, passed out, stomped, whacked and pummeled. Through it all I always kept my head. (On).

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  7. Awww man, I bet he learned his lesson. x.x
    Of course the real lesson is actually, JUST DON'T DO THAT JOB. EVER.

    Maybe you should have gone to the parties as Manny the Uncanny..

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  8. Speaking of which, when are you going to upload new episodes ;) [Nice segway huh?]

    I just remembered, I have that same effect on children without the costumes. They tend to want to be around me so much that they all want to be picked up at once, or they feel a powerful urge to beat me with any object they can get ahold of.

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  9. Troy,

    Compared to Oh Boy Pizzas, Totinos are gourmet.

    Paul

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  10. Rob,

    I wasn't better than George Clooney, but the costume wasn't bad. No nipples.

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  11. If you say you didn't take your head off, okay. But somewhere there's a guy in turtle tights running around without a head, because Ricky Resinetti never gave it up. Last time I saw Ricky, he was wearing that head while he ran along the resevoir at Balboa Park. That was last Wednesday.

    Duane

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  12. I am reminded of a certain fiction based off of a certain TV show that a certain blogger was involved in. It contains several chapters wherein the intrepid hero dons a ridiculous goose suit (and later magicians outfit) in order to earn enough money to keep his brother and sister fed. I recall thinking to myself "Surely things couldnt be THAT bad. But apparently they are. You have my deepest sympathies. Glad things have much improved for you since.

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